“I love you.” Those three little words mean so much, and yet somehow fall short of expressing how you truly feel.
But actions speak louder than words, and Valentine’s Day is really about saying “I love you” in more meaningful ways. True Romeos use the occasion to be creative and find thoughtful, original expressions of love.
To help you be a romantic hero this Valentine’s Day, we’ve put together 25 creative ways to say “I love you” without necessarily saying anything at all. Choose your favorites, or use the ideas as jumping-off points to create your own personalized romantic gesture.
1. Leave hide-and-seek love letters.
Write little love notes to your mate and leave them in unexpected places where they will eventually be found, such as in a sock drawer, a packed lunch or even in the freezer. That way, they will regularly be surprised by your thoughtfulness.
2. Unleash your inner DJ.
Creating a romantic “mix tape” of meaningful love songs used to be a popular romantic gesture. Nowadays, you can do the same by creating iTunes or Spotify playlists to express your love through music.
3. Create a “52 Things I Love About You” booklet.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways… If you can come up with at least 52 reasons, and one deck of standard playing cards, you can create a “52 Things I Love About You” booklet. Just write (or paste) a different reason you love your significant other on each card, and then use a hole punch and binder rings to turn the card deck into a booklet. Since there are also 52 weeks in a year, it can serve as an ongoing reminder of the reasons you fell in love.
4. Say it in different languages.
Saying “I love you” is perhaps a little bit too easy. Being able to say it in French (Je t’aime), Finnish (Minä rakastan sinua) or Farsi (Duset daram) shows that you are a real romantic. If you’re not sure about pronunciation, you can always write it out and fill your Valentine’s Day card with declarations of love from around the world. Language site Omniglot has “I love you” spelled out in over 200 languages, from Afrikaans to Zulu. And if every spoken language on earth is not enough to proclaim your love, Geekosystem has it in Klingon, Na’vi and even binary code.
5. Valentine’s fortune cookies.
You can create some real magic this Valentine’s Day by putting a personalized message of love inside a closed and sealed fortune cookie—without breaking the cookie or the seal. How, Houdini? By using a little steam to open the cookie and a little ironing to re-seal the plastic packaging. Laura at Make Life Lovely describes the process; if you don’t have the necessary vegetable steamer, Rena at The Cheese Thief explains how the same thing can be accomplished with a damp paper towel and microwave. Of course, if you prefer, you could just make your own Valentine’s Day fortune cookies from scratch.
6. A message in a bottle.
“Before I met you, I was lost and alone, drifting aimlessly through life…” If you want to show how grateful you are for finally finding your one and only, write down your thoughts in a love note and deliver it as a classic message in a bottle. Check your local craft store for an appropriate cork-stopped bottle. Make sure the opening is wide enough for the message to slip through, and tie the scroll with ribbon or string to prevent it from unrolling inside the bottle. You can decorate the bottle, as in the example at A Pumpkin & A Princess, or go for a vintage shipwrecked look.
7. Say it with a Kiss.
Hershey’s Kisses have been a candy staple since 1907 (although the name wasn’t trademarked until 2001). Though sweet in their own right, you can turn the chocolate candies into little love notes by customizing the paper ribbons that extend from the top of the foil wrappers. Simply print your own messages onto small strips of paper and use them to replace the “Kisses®” tags. Or, if you have difficulty unwrapping and re-wrapping the thin aluminum foil, you can just glue your message onto the existing tag.
8. Say it in a steamy way.
If your bathroom mirror becomes fogged up when you take a shower, write “I love you” or some other personal message on the mirror with your finger. The message will be invisible once the steam has cleared, but will magically reappear when your partner takes a shower.
9. Write it in the stars.
Another way to hide a magical message in plain sight is to write it on the bedroom ceiling using glow-in-the-dark stickers. Such stickers often come in the shape of stars, which you can arrange as a love-ly constellation. However, you can also buy blank sheets of sticker paper and cut them into whatever shapes or letters you want. White stickers on the ceiling are unlikely to be noticed during daylight hours, but will be immediately visible once you are in bed and the lights go out.
10. Give them a “heart attack.”
That is, attack them with paper hearts. Brittany Watson Jepsen of The House That Lars Built shows a few different ways to give someone a “heart attack,” including covering their door with paper hearts or sending a box full of them. The more over-the-top you make it, the more they will know they are loved.
11. Worship the ground they walk on.
Use sidewalk chalk to leave a message for your love outside the front door, or on any path you know they will be walking on at some point during the day. Perhaps “I love you so much that I worship the ground you walk on,” or draw a hopscotch court and list something you love about them in each square.
12. Write it on their ride.
Replace the sidewalk chalk with glass chalk, and you can leave a Valentine message on the windows of your sweetheart’s car. If you think you are too mature or have been together for too long for such a stunt, that’s exactly the point: it will show that you still feel the same way about them and are still excited about your love. For example, you could write that you are “Just married…for 10 years…and love you more each day!”
13. TP them.
To reach someone when they truly least expect it, write a love note on a roll of toilet paper. Unroll a few squares, write your message (very gently, using a felt-tip marker), and then roll it back up. Just make sure it’s a private bathroom, so that no one else will inadvertently get the wrong message.
14. “I love you because…” chalkboard.
For an ongoing opportunity to show your love, consider buying or making a small chalkboard with the words “I love you because…” written across the top. You can then fill in the blank with a reason why you do love the person, and change the message each day (or week, or however often you can come up with different reasons). If you don’t want to make a chalkboard yourself, you can always buy one online.
15. Conversation heart cheesecakes.
Most everyone is familiar with the small heart-shaped candies stamped with short phrases such as “Be Mine” or “Crazy 4U.” You can create your own messages, and have much more space on which to write them, by using cheesecakes instead of candies. Beth at Hungry Happenings has the recipe and directions for making your own colorful cheesecake hearts.
16. Love puzzles.
Looking for love? Try 17 across. With a free online puzzle maker, you can create a crossword or word search puzzle featuring things important to your relationship, such as the location of your first date or the name of your song. Some word puzzles include hidden or encrypted messages, which allows you to tell someone how you feel—as long as they can crack the code.
17. Tell the world on social media.
For a less subtle approach, consider making a public proclamation of your love on a social network. Posting on social media is essentially the modern version of shouting it from the mountaintops, and public affirmation carries a lot more weight than something said in private. And perhaps February 14 is the day you make it “Facebook official” and change your relationship status.
18. Blog about it.
If you like the idea of posting your love online, but have more to say than a tweet or status update allows, consider blogging about it. Post an online love letter, or write out a list of the things you appreciate about him or her. If you don’t have a blog, you can rather easily create one for free through a simple platform such as Blogger or Tumblr.
19. Say it with roses.
Red roses are the international symbol of love, so you can hardly go wrong giving roses for Valentine’s Day. However, you can also get creative with it by spelling out “I Love You” with rose petals, or arranging long-stemmed roses on the bed to form a giant heart. By presenting such a classic in a new way, you can make an even bigger impact.
20. Give an award.
If you think that your husband really is the best father in the world, or feel that you lucked out and married a true “trophy wife,” perhaps you should recognize them for it with an actual trophy. Courtney at Women Living Well did so with a trophy from a party supply store, while Danny Seo made the above trophy out of common household items and spray paint. If you want something more official-looking, most cities have awards shops that can engrave anything you want onto a real trophy, plaque or medal. You can also print out a custom award certificate for just the cost of paper and ink.
21. At the bottom of a cereal box.
Ever get one of those little prizes inside a box of cereal as a kid? You can re-create that surprise by placing a love note or a small gift, sealed in a plastic bag, inside an open box of your partner’s favorite cereal.
22. Coffee art.
You can also say “I love you” for your Valentine’s breakfast by fixing your sweetheart a cup of coffee—and writing “I love you” on the coffee itself. Jasmine at Merry Brides shows how you can easily make a coffee stencil and decorate your latte with cocoa powder or cinnamon.
23. In song.
If you have the talent, nothing is more romantic than writing and performing an original, personal love song. If you don’t have that kind of talent, you can still woo her with a karaoke version of a classic love song. If you completely lack any kind of musical talent and can’t even carry a tune in a bucket, perhaps you should stick to reciting poetry.
24. In a book.
Put together a “Book of Love” about your relationship. This is similar to a Baby Book, but instead of listing first words or first steps, it will describe important steps and landmarks in your relationship. Include details of how you first met, the date of your first kiss, and photos or keepsakes from memorable events in your love story. Showing that you remember such details and want to document and save them will prove that your love is the most important thing in your life.
25. Bacon hearts.
Because nothing says “love” like bacon. In the shape of a heart. What creative ways are you going to say “I love you” this Valentine’s Day?