In a world where the value of material things has begun to far outweigh that of sentiment for many, I couldn't help but be uncomfortable with his contention. But when I told the guys that they don't need to have a lot of money to be able to be "that man" for a woman, they didn't seem to buy my spiel. In fact, they guffawed at it. But speaking from experience, one of the most romantic gestures a man has ever made toward me came at the price of a card and a bucket of KFC. Now, I don't even eat KFC, but the romance was all in the delivery. He got creative.
It was February, almost Valentine's day. My honey-at-the-time was going to be working on the 14th, so he decided to surprise me with an early V-Day celebration. He asked me to come over that evening, and when I got there, he was rushing around frantically, trying to put the finishing touches on whatever he was up to. He asked me to wait downstairs while he rustled around in his room. After about 10 minutes, he came down and told me to close my eyes. He led me upstairs by the hand, opened the door to his bedroom, and told me to look. He had spread a blanket on the floor, lit candles around the room, and set up an indoor picnic. It was so adorably ridiculous, and his effort was so apparent, that I couldn't help but fall a little more in love in that exact moment. But it didn't end there. After our fake-nic, more rustling ensued. He shut himself in the bathroom and told me to hang on. After a few minutes he called me in, and waiting for me were more candles, soft music, and a hot bubble bath. He poured me a glass of wine...and we'll end the story there. But needless to say, while it may sound silly, the effort and intention of his gesture, and the clear communication of his appreciation for me, made it one of my favorite memories of ours. I would even rank it above the diamond bracelet he bought my for Christmas; because it's not about the money involved. It was creative and thoughtful, and that's what made it romantic.
With all this being said, I decided to compile a list of 10 creative and FREE romantic gestures you can use to woo your honey, and be "that kind of guy" without having "that kind of money." No more excuses fellas!
1. Give her flowers.
Now, I know right now you are saying to yourself "flowers aren't free!" But that's where you are wrong. Flowers don't cost money, florists do. Have you ever driven down I-95 in May and seen the FIELDS of wild flowers in the medians? Go pick some. They're free. "But it's October!" Then make some. YouTube a video on how to make paper flowers. Get some recycled newspaper and make her a bouquet. Not only are these free, but they don't die either.
2. Go on a picnic.
The simpler, the better. Make a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, just the way she likes. Everyone has a PB&J preference. Wrap them up, roll up a blanket, and find a cute spot in the park to picnic. If it's cold, do an indoor picnic. Lay a blanket down in the middle of the living room, and park it. You could even make it an indoor camping trip. Get funky with it! Make a fort, pitch a tent, whatever; and camp out together in the living room. Grab a couple flashlights, put the cell phones away, and talk all night.
3. Make a mix CD.
This is by far my favorite thing to do for my man. I am the QUEEN of the mix CD. I live my life in music, so every situation or relationship I am in has a soundtrack. Make the soundtrack of your relationship for your girl. Make a CD of songs that remind you of her or that are sentimental to your relationship. Then make a track list, giving the reason you picked each song. Trust me on this fellas, this is sure fire win.
4. Write her a poem or song.
You don't have to be a poet or a song writer for this. I mean, it doesn't hurt, but frankly, to have a guy step out of his comfort zone to do something creative for you makes it even more special. It doesn't even have to be good. Just the fact that you TRIED is what makes it romantic. If you're a funny guy, use your humor. Women love men who can make them laugh.
5. Read to her.
Find a quiet corner in a café, or even your home, and read your lady's favorite book to her. Or go to the bookstore and pick a book out and read together. Find a book of love poems and take turns reading them to each other. Pick your favorite and make it yours.
6. Take her for a walk in the park.
Parks are awesome. Especially if you can find one by a lake. For my Mercer County folks, Mercer County Park is the perfect place for this. There are walking trails, a beautiful lake, and SWINGS! Take a walk, sit together by the water, watch the kids play on the playground, push her on the swing. Do it all! For the athletic couple, go down to the basketball courts and shoot around together. Get a flirty game of one on one going.
7. Write her a love letter.
In a world of email, text messages, and tweets, the art of letter writing is all but lost. Handwritten notes and letters are an uncommon treasure. Write your thoughts and feelings for her in a letter, sign it, and mail it to her. Or drop it on her doorstep. Leave her sweet Post-it notes on the windshield of her car. The element of surprise and spontaneity makes it clear that you are thinking about her and have taken the time to let her know you care.
8. Make a photo album.
Collect your favorite pictures of you and her together, your favorite pictures of her, pictures of memories or places you've visited together. Cut them out and make a photo album or scrap book. Write notes in it, spruce it up with sketches, colored paper, decorations, whatever you can get a hold of. Dress up together in silly costumes and do your own photo booth shoot. Have fun!
9. Watch the sunset.
Find out what time the sun sets. Take a ride to the nearest beach or bridge or lake, and watch it together.
10. Go stargazing or cloud watching.
Once, a guy I was dating and I cloud watched through the sunroof of my car. It was cold, but it was beautiful clear day. So we turned on the heat, reclined the seats, opened the sunroof and watched the clouds. We tried to identify each one, and then we made stories about them. Go up to the top of a parking garage, or on your roof, and star gaze. Try to pick out constellations, the north star. Pick a star and make it yours, name it after her.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. The point is, don't let financial constraints define the kind of man you are, or can be, to your partner. Ladies, you can use these too! My charge to everyone is to take these and run with them. Elaborate on them, add more to the list. Don't be lazy! The essence of true romance lies in your effort, your ability and willingness to use your imagination and some creativity, to think outside the box. The value of a significant other is not measured by the depth of his pockets. Romance does not have a price tag.
In summary, as per the words of William Henry Channing:
"To live content with small means, to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich, to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages with open heart, to study hard, to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never, in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common-this is my symphony."