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7 Cheap Strategies for Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Use these tips to express your love without emptying your wallet.

Some creative thought is much more important than a big price tag.

Many of us feel that Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday. This might fill your husband’s heart with trepidation, not merely for the cost of an impressive gift, but rather the imaginative wow factor of planning a scenario to suit female idealized expectation.

A man does not want this type of reaction from his wife, "This last minute cheap box of chocolates?—is this what he thinks of me?" "No rose petals on the bed?" And women often buy their man a gift to which he might reply, "Oh, you shouldn’t have," and he means it, literally! Take heart because thanks to the recession frugal is the new sexy!

This year V-Day falls on Monday, which is great because if you are busy working, you can celebrate it on the weekend. Valentine’s Day is not the most romantic day of the year; it’s just a reminder that in spite of your separate, busy routines, you love one other and need to schedule couple time. Fun and humor facilitate romance. Keep in mind that including a bit of novelty creates anticipation, which releases feel-good chemistry in your body.

Here are seven simple heartfelt strategies to set the mood with your honey. Consider doing these love tasks together or dividing them up based on your skill-set—marriage is a team effort. And if you have children, ship them off, if possible. At least lock your bedroom door and turn off the phone to avoid interruptions.

1. Skip the cards written by the corporate card pushers. Write a love note to one other. The original Valentine’s were handwritten love notes. Here are some tips for writing a love letter and creating an intimate bond:

? First, come from the heart and be sincere. You can start with a template from a famous quote like, "How do I love thee/let me count the ways?" Now, all you have to do is list the different ways. Use your imagination and sense of humor.

? Or, look at a beautiful scene from nature like the ocean, a garden or a sunrise. Use that as a point of comparison to your love and write how your love resembles this wondrous scene from nature. Another option is to write a few words about when you first met. Just recall the details of when, where, how and why (you already know who) and your spouse will be flattered.

2. Cook a meal together—there is no room for a sous chef. Work together on an equal playing field.

3. Change the light bulb in your bedroom lamp: red is bold and sexy; blue is fairytale and magical. You will create a dramatic effect and see one other in a different light.

4. Set up a tray (the way they do in hotels) with finger foods like grapes, berries and don’t forget the dark chocolate! Include some red wine or hot chocolate, depending on your style, and you will be heart smart—no need to load up on cholesterol, which is the enemy of good sex.

5. Fill a vase or even a bud vase with a fresh flower or two (you don’t need a dozen expensive roses, as you can purchase a single exotic flower from a local florist or get more bang for your buck with a beautiful, inexpensive arrangement at your local supermarket or Costco; augment the visual effect with a light spritz of aromatherapy like lavender, citrus or jasmine around the bedroom. Note: if you opt for the single flower, let your beloved know how this flower symbolizes your relationship. Think fresh as a daisy or sunshine of my life like a sunflower.

6. Play your favorite song(s) as a couple or create an interesting mix, such as Bruno Mars and Barry White—music is a great persuader.

7. Dress for success and aim for the surprise element. There’s nothing better than a good surprise that will keep your spouse guessing and building anticipation for the main event. To up the ante, drop hints leading up to Valentine's.

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of "Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life," "Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout" and "Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul," a stress-reduction specialist, a radio show host and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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