Although Valentine’s Day has passed at the time of writing, it’s never too early to plan for it. After all, you want to be prepared. If you aren’t, you’ll be criticized for having no imagination and not caring about her feelings yet another year, and nobody but a masochist wants that.

Presents: Go against the grain

Sure, things like sweaters, earrings, even sexy lingerie will work, but they’re tired gift ideas. They’re simply better than buying nothing at all (and quite a bit better than the typical chocolates and wine, unless you get something really elite). Be creative and get something practical. Get something your partner really needs. Have no idea what? Ask! It should be something that can really be used, not relegated to the bottom of a drawer where it will gather dust, like most Valentine’s Day gifts are.

Choose an unusual destination

Alternatively, take your partner on holiday somewhere interesting. Interesting doesn’t always mean expensive. A quaint little village in your country or state could be a great idea if you live in a big city. It’ll be a nice reprieve and a low-cost option. And vice versa – if you live in a small and boring town, you could visit the capital city of your country. For example, in all European countries, the capital city is always the biggest and usually the most interesting city in the country. In the US, this isn’t the case (Albany, anyone)?

Still, take this tip with a grain of salt. Paris (France) may be a V-day classic, but hotels and restaurants will be at their most expensive this time of year. Why not try Paris in the US (whichever Paris is nearest you)? You’ll have a nice story to tell – at least.

If you can’t take paid leave around this time of year, you could go on a one-day trip somewhere in the area, especially if there are beautiful natural attractions around.

Avoid Restaurants

Restaurants are packed and sometimes prices are hiked up on V-day. An overwhelmed waiter might ruin your mood by spilling wine or a meal all over you. I think cooking at home together is a much better idea. Why not try making that exotic dish you’ve always wanted to try? Shop for the ingredients in advance and try it. If it doesn’t work, it’ll still make the day memorable, which is what you wanted in the first place.