A special date is looming, and you know your partner is going to be expecting something big from you. Whether you're in a new relationship and falling victim to the Valentine's Day peer pressure, or about to celebrate a birthday or anniversary with your loved one, you want to make the day really special.

You imagine sipping champagne in a hot air balloon, booking a surprise weekend in Rome, or picking out the newest wider-than-wide screen TV to snuggle up in front of. Then you check your bank balance and realise that it's not going to happen.

At this point you can either decide on a pint in the local and a pizza for two in front of a rented DVD, or consider that maybe it really is the thought that counts. To help you decide, here are a few simple ways to show that special someone that they're loved, without upsetting your bank balance.

A New Experience

It there something you've always wanted to try but never got around to? Perhaps you've both talked about running a marathon, skinny-dipping in a lake, sleeping under the stars or getting into the Guinness Book of Records. Do it. New experiences can be bonding and it could lead to a new shared interest.


This one is weather dependant, but you could take advantage of a clear night anytime in the run up to the big day. A little homework will go a long way: if you pick up a basic astronomy book and learn a few constellations in preparation, you can impress with your knowledge of the skies. Many of the constellations have links to mythological figures and stories, and you could even spot your star sign.

Write a Letter

With IM at work an iPhone to hand there are limitless ways to communicate with your loved one at any time of day or night and the idea of sending a letter instead of a text or video message might seem impossibly quaint and old fashioned. For that reason it could also be a very romantic gesture. It requires a bit of extra time and effort to prepare and will show your loved one you were thinking of them. Just remember to post it in plenty of time!

Pack up a Picnic

A surprise picnic can take many forms: a barbeque on a summer evening, a candlelight midnight feast, a dawn breakfast, or the more traditional cake and sandwiches. Location is everything; a quiet beach, woodland or a mountaintop are clearly preferable to a crowded family park. Use your imagination to make it quirky and personal.

Share a Hobby

Perhaps you have a penchant for extreme sports and spend weekends pursuing your hobbies with likeminded friends. You could take your loved one out at a beginner's level, and take it easy for a change. Or share a treasured childhood experience like building a tree house or a bonfire together. Whatever it is, make it just the two of you.


Read aloud to each other. Romantic poems, tingling horror stories, classic fairy tales, anything you both enjoy. Experiment with sound effects and character voices. Reading is so often a solitary pastime that sharing it can be a whole new kind of experience. Enjoy!