Valentine's Day is a competition, not a holiday. Forget the cynical approach of thinking it's just another day created by greeting card companies to sell more cards. Men, you need to accept February 14 as the day when you outplay, out-give and out-charm every other man. The attitude of most men on Valentine's Day is to do just enough to stay out of the doghouse. Why should you just do the bare minimum? Instead, follow these few simple rules on Valentine's Day to show your significant other the love that our greeting cards tell each other we feel.
It's not just the scout motto; it should be your life's motto when you tackle any gift-giving holiday. The fourteenth of February happens every year, so there is no excuse for forgetting. Schedule an alarm on your phone's calendar app to go off on February first. That gives you two solid weeks to prepare. Pay attention to any cues your sweetheart gives you about wanting specific jewelry or saying that she could really use a vacation. Chances are she will subtly let you know what she wants, which will make things simple when you shop for the best Valentine's gifts.
During the week preceding Valentine's Day, you can bring chivalry back from the dead by treating her like gold. Don't be your typical slacker self in the days leading up to Valentine's and then try to make up for it with one breakfast in bed. Make it a Valentine's week. Do your best to let your better half relax. It can't hurt to do the dishes, take the kids (if applicable) for the day, send romantic (see also: cheesy) texts and offer to watch what she wants to see all week, even if it means watching romantic comedies all week. I know that last part will hurt the worst, but if you watch them without providing sarcastic commentary, it will pay off and you'll appear to be the great man she hopes to turn you into.
Don't Buy an Appliance
For the love of all that you consider holy, please don't buy an appliance as a Valentine's gift. Have you and your sweetie been discussing how you need to buy a vacuum? Well, don't put it on your Valentine's Day ideas list. Yes, appliances are often expensive. Just because you'll be spending money on Valentine's Day doesn't mean that the appliance you both need qualifies as one of your valentine gifts. This is not a two-birds-with-one-stone situation. You don't want to buy a new washer and dryer set and set yourself up for a breakup, which could happen to you if you're not careful.
Avoiding clichés is more challenging than you think. If you want to see one in action, go to any store on Valentine's Day and watch the men waiting in line to purchase their $40 long-stem roses and tacky heart-shaped boxes of acidic chocolates on their way home from work. Look to the first rule to avoid the previous situation: Be prepared. First, make sure your valentine likes flowers. If she does, go to a florist and pick out a creative bouquet filled with unique flowers that emote how you feel about her specifically. A red rose is not always the most romantic flower. The best gifts come from the heart. Knowing what she likes is far more important than following convention.
It's perfectly acceptable – and essentially a requirement – to get your better half a sweet card, but don't just sign your name beneath a generic message. Instead, dig down into whatever sentimentality remains inside you and write a love letter thanking her for being in your life. Enclose said letter with the card.
Don't go out to dinner on Valentine's Day. There's a reason you'll have a very long, unromantic wait at any restaurant you choose. It's that too many men don't use their natural creativity or give it that extra bit of effort to plan ahead or be spontaneous. Instead, you should make an evening of it. If you have kids, get a babysitter. Your woman will be very impressed, whatever the result, if you put forth the effort to make dinner at home for the two of you. If you can't cook, pick up a catered meal from a local deli or grocery store.
Women are complicated creatures. Men rarely know what they're thinking at any given time. One thing you should know is that they like to be appreciated and loved. Put forth some extra effort this Valentine's Day and she'll spread the word to her friends that you've put the other men in the neighborhood to shame. Not only that, but you'll earn brownie points that you may need by the next gift-giving holiday.