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Make the Most of Valentine's Day or Any Day

15 unique, inexpensive ways to show your love

Does the thought of one more Valentine's Day gift of roses and chocolate feel fatally ho-hum? Is there another day that you want to make romantic and special? Then resist the roses-and-chocolate script and write another. Here are 15 novel suggestions, one of which will surely capture your imagination and your partner's heart.

See also: 11 classic songs to get you in the mood for love.

hands holding candle in heart-shaped candle holder

Photo by Amana Images/Getty Images

Show the one you love how much you care without spending a lot of money.

1. Dress up and pretend it's your first date. A little fantasy can go a long way. Look your best and have your partner pick you up and pretend to be meeting you for the first time. Give a corsage or a gift to impress a first date (something sweet but not overly expensive). Carry the theme on through dinner and, if you dare, keep in character when you go to bed — for the first time.

2. Go to a chocolate factory. A box of chocolates may be boring, but a whole factory can be luscious. There are many boutique chocolate companies; find one and learn about the best of the best. Buy a stash for each other and overindulge. Remember, phenalythamine, an ingredient in chocolate, is an aphrodisiac, but only if you eat a lot of it!

3. Throw a party for couples who have been married as long as you. Celebrate with your closest friends who have also been in a long-term relationship. Make it a potluck dinner with the proviso that everyone brings a romantic food. At the table, everyone should talk about their first impressions of their partner — and when they knew he or she was "the one." It should be a very sweet dinner party.

4. The couple that bakes together … Cooking together can be a very intimate, even sensual experience. Get a cookbook and make an outrageous dessert — or take a class and have someone guide your culinary masterpiece. Go out to dinner, but come home to celebrate afterward with your joint creation.

5. Have a Valentine's Day party for your grandchildren. Help your grandchildren make Valentine cards, play checkers with chocolate and red hearts or go on a hearts scavenger hunt. Older grandchildren? Take them out for a special dinner or make your own ice cream and finish it off with an array of fabulous toppings of their choosing. Over indulge yourself! Make sure you have some alone time afterward and toast each other with more-grown-up libations.

6. Spend a day at your city's "lesser" museums. Almost any city of some size has museums you never visited or heard of. If you are a visitor, see if the city has volunteer tour guides to help you locate these hidden gems. Exploring such places as the Scandinavian Museum, the Chinese history museum or Wooden Boat Museum, etc., might have some delightful surprises in store for you. Then pick one to give a donation to in your partner's name.

See also: Share your poetry.

7. Decorate your bedroom and make it a boudoir. A quick cure for sensual boredom. Paint a wall red, get silky sheets or put in a dimmer. Add some aromatherapy with an incense burner or room scents. Then settle in for the afternoon. Give each other a present of massage oil — and use it.

8. Go shopping at a sex store. Ask the sales clerk to explain the gadgets because the function of many pleasure items is not so obvious. Find one that you both would actually like to try. It could be as simple as a candle that melts down into massage oil or as strange as — well, it's up to you to discover.

9. Go to a poetry reading. You might not be able to create deathless prose for your partner — but perhaps you can listen to it together. Go to a play at your local Shakespeare company, find a neighborhood poetry slam (competitive poetry reading) or check out other literary events in your local newspaper. Buy your partner a collection of poetry from Edna St. Vincent Millay, W.H. Auden or e.e. cummings, or ask an online poetry group for a recommendation and check it out. Copy your favorite poem for your love and present it in a frame.

10. Have a picnic in your living room. Pretend you are in the great outdoors — but have familiar plumbing nearby. Create a picnic basket filled with finger foods and other goodies you don't have to get up and get from the kitchen. Put it all on a blanket and after you are done feasting, you can stay there and make love.

11. Do something thrilling. Watch a sci-fi or monster movie, and cuddle with your sweetheart during it and afterward. A few thrills increase your adrenaline, which ups other hormones as well. Pick a classic movie — forgo the ones with too much violence or gore — and hold each other tight. Then go upstairs and burn off that adrenaline.

See also: 7 ways to live in the moment.

12. Get a joint massage. It's very romantic to get a massage lying side by side by two massage therapists. Find a place, if you can, that has private or co-ed steam or sauna rooms to be in before or after. If that is out of your price range, see if the same treatment is available at a massage school in your area. Can't find a parallel massage experience? Then do individual ones at the same time and take a walk afterward, enjoying your blissful state together.

13. Go ballroom dancing. You might be surprised how romantic and fun it is to twirl around with your partner on a dance floor. Dancing together can be very seductive. Take a lesson and, if you enjoy it, keep the passion flowing with a whole series of lessons. If ballroom isn't your thing, try line dancing or the Texas Two-Step.

14. Rent a cabin in a small  town or swap your place for another. Getaway places in tourist destinations are expensive, but out of the way places without tourist facilities can be surprisingly cheap. Look for places on the Internet, and even consider a house swap so that you both can have a great place without any expense at all. Make sure you use an Internet site that does due diligence on the people who offer up their places — and do some investigation yourself. While there are always exceptions, a carefully researched swap or an off the grid cabin can make for a very romantic Valentine's Day indeed.

15. Get artistic. Just about every large city (and many small ones) has a store that offers you the chance to take a plain piece of pottery, paint it, fire it and admire it. Sure, it's usually kids there — but aren't we all kids at heart? Another way to express your love and inner artist is to try a free online expressive drawing class. Your work of art to each other may not land in the Louvre — but it will be a fun experience and a memorable gift.