In this age of fleeting swipe-right relationships, consider yourself lucky if you've got someone to call your own this Valentine's Day. To show him or her how much you care, ditch the big production and get back to basics with these ideas to help you express your affection without a whole lot of expense.
Make a surprise visit to the office for an impromptu lunch date
Dinner reservations at a decent restaurant are hard to come by on Feb. 14, but lunch is usually wide open. Skip the lines tonight and move your romantic meal up a few hours by surprising your partner at his or her workplace with an invitation to join you at a special spot in town. Worried that the time constraint will force you to rush? Slow it down and abandon the dine-in option altogether by bringing a picnic (or something that you grabbed on your way) that you can share in a quiet cove nearby.
Participate in a couple's activity that facilitates closeness
Daily-deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial are excellent resources for finding inexpensive activities that you and your significant other can do together. Options will vary by area, but even with minimal research you should be able to come up with a great activity to create a new memory – like naked yoga or a fencing class, for instance.
Take the day off and head out for an adventure
Feeling less than connected lately? Make an effort to reignite that fire by taking the day off work so you two can concentrate on the relationship. Sleep in, have breakfast together, and then head out for a local adventure with the goal of being attentive and affectionate to one another for the duration of the day.
Set up a cozy candle-lit screening of your favorite films at home
Just like every restaurant in town, movie theaters also will be mobbed on Valentine's Day – which gives you the perfect excuse to plan a private film screening at home. Instead of ordering a new release on-demand and cuddling up on the couch like you usually do, pull out all the stops by turning the night into a lovefest. Build a comfortable "screening nest" that consists of piles of pillows and blankets, provide your partner's favorite snacks and drinks, and pick up a few movies from a bargain bin or a neighborhood rental kiosk that you'll both enjoy.
Get in the kitchen and cook dinner as a couple
Cupid never intended for one half of the couple to do all the prep work on Valentine's Day just so the other can reap the benefits. Rather, this celebration is about making each other feel loved and appreciated, and that's only accomplished if you're each contributing equally. One delicious way you two can spend quality time together while getting your hands dirty and enjoying the fruits of said labor is to cook a romantic meal side by side. The one with the most kitchen talent can still take the lead, so long as it's a combined effort all the way to the finish. There's no law against cooking in the buff either – just so you know.
Invite excitement to the bedroom by making an intimate video
Two consenting adults can do whatever they'd like in the comfort of their own home, and sometimes that includes a camera. If you're feeling especially randy (and body confident; what's the point of making a sex tape if you won't want to watch it afterward?), set the mood and get psyched for a night of naughty lovemaking a la Chi Chi LaRue.
Browse an antique shop together to find a thoughtful gift separately
Valentine's Day should never be about material possessions, but there's a way to make buying your sweetie something tangible much more memorable. Instead of ordering an arbitrary item online or stopping by the florist on the drive home, schedule an outing to a local antique shop. Once there, establish a reasonable budget (say, $20 each) and go your separate ways to find a thoughtful, personalized trinket for the other that you'll both cherish forever.
Rent a cheap motel room and enjoy a tantalizing little tryst
Sex can get stale in the same environment over and over – and Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity to spice things up. This year, go low – rent, that is – by booking a less-than-luxurious motel room to set up a seedy-yet-steamy encounter with your S.O. In anticipation of the evening's events, sext your partner throughout the day to help elevate their arousal level so they're rarin' to go as soon as they step through the door.
Set up a relaxing and romantic at-home spa experience
Cutting costs doesn't mean you're cutting quality so long as you're committed to being creative. You can save several hundred dollars on professional spa treatments by eliminating the middleman and getting down to business one on one. Give each other a body trim, soak in a hot tub, swap massages, and let the rest of night fulfill itself.
Recreate your very first date
There's a reason why you two fell in love – even if it's sometimes hard to remember it. Take a trip down memory lane this Valentine's Day by retracing your first date from start to finish – whatever that may entail. The feelings from that initial encounter will come flooding back like they never left, and you'll be reminded of the myriad reasons that you work so hard to keep this one-of-a-kind coupling intact.