11/02/2013 13:21 | By Dr Pam Spurr, contributor, MSN Her

How to bring real romance back to Valentine's Day

MSN's relationship expert Dr Pam Spurr reveals you don't have to be a victim of commercialism


Valentines (© Nadya Lukic,Getty Images)

Stroll down any high street at this time and there's a depressing array of cheap greeting cards and cuddly toys for Valentine's Day. Want a neon-pink fluffy monkey with a sign around its neck saying "I'm bananas for you"? Or a faux satin, padded card that plays an unrecognisable version of the Dr. Zhivago tune when opened? You've got it!

Poor St. Valentine is surely turning in his grave. How could his moving, romantic gesture to his jailer’s blind daughter have led to this sort of commercialism?

But that's the tragic truth and Valentine’s Day is now a celebration of bad taste instead of symbolising the season of romance. It's enough to put off anyone from what should be a fun excuse to flirt with that special person.

Whether a long-term couple, or just getting to know that special person, don't let the tacky side of Valentine's stop you finding your inner-romantic.

Here are tips, tricks and techniques for some guaranteed romance

*Get mysterious

As Valentine’s falls on a Thursday - awkward for some working couples - agree to celebrate it at the weekend. Take control and plan a mystery journey like a romantic stroll in a local place of beauty. Wrap up warm, take a flask and yummy snacks and surprise them by leading them to place you've chosen.

*Venture You don't have to celebrate in a restaurant

Don't book a restaurant on Valentine’s night when prices are inflated and it’s full of couples feeling a bit awkward. Instead plan to do something they really enjoy. If they're sporty why not book ice-skating or go bowling. If they love films get tickets to one and don't let them know which film you're seeing. A little surprise goes a long way. Bring their favourite treats all wrapped up to share during the film.

Valentine's (© Lena Sergeeva,Getty Images)

*Beat the crowds

If your ‘Valentine’ loves going to restaurants then ask them to put the 13th or the 15th in their diary and book a table for that night. You miss the crush of couples on Valentine's itself and you can make it your own special night of romance. It adds a little sparkle to know you're doing things differently in your relationship.

*Re-create your first date

Couples who've been together a while can plan to re-create their first date. Go back to your old haunt, do whatever you did that first date and chat about how you felt when you first time clapped eyes on each other. Describe in detail what it was about their smile, twinkling eyes, or chat-up line that got you hooked. It's surprising how this technique renews that old feeling between you.

*Create the right atmosphere for romance

With the never-ending recession romantic restaurant dinners are a thing of the past especially with pricey Valentine offerings. Create a candlelit dinner-picnic on your sitting room floor. Make it cozy with blankets and cushions and have a tray of your fave finger foods to hand-feed each other. A snuggly picnic makes it easy to get rude-with-food leading nicely into foreplay.

*Book an adventure together for the future -  

Plan your evening around planning for the future - enjoy researching potential destinations to visit or days out to take. If on a budget it means you can plan to save for your romantic away-day. As above, do this over a candlelit dinner at home. It's always nice sharing that feeling you're looking forward to an adventure-for-2.

*Small but meaningful

You don't have to be a big spender to make them realise how much they mean to you. If you've been together a while buy them a CD of songs from the year you met. If it's a new relationship download for them the No. 1tune from the week you met. Or do this with DVDs - surprise them with a DVD of the first film you saw together. 

*Unexpected surprises -

The thought you put into a Valentine surprise is reflected in unexpected gifts. Why not name a star, plant a tree, or adopt an animal in their name. It may seem incurably romantic but that's what this time of year is about!

Or buy them surprise tickets to something they love doing like seeing their favourite band or going to the theatre. Receiving tickets tucked inside a Valentine card is a guaranteed success.

Valentine's (© peter zelei,Getty Images)

*Have a little flirty fun

Whether your sex life needs a boost or you're smack in the middle of the hot honeymoon phase - Valentine's gives you perfect excuse [mind you, not that you need 1] to flirt with a sexy phone call or message. Turn up the heat by teasing them about a sex trick/technique you'd like to do to them that evening.

How much detail you give depends on your relationship but Valentine's is a great excuse to push the boundaries. Put some sexy choices inside their Valentine card, e.g., they're allowed to choose one from the three or four red-hot choices you list.

Dr Pam’s on twitter @drpamspurr

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