When you’re in a relationship, we do our best to keep our partners happy. But, you don’t need to shower your significant other with diamonds or fancy meals. Sometimes, all it takes is a handwritten note, multiple proposals, or being there when they have a bad day.
#1 Whole New Day
Today my girlfriend brought our dog in the car to pick me up from work. She knew I was having a long and busy day. It was free and I’ll never forget it. It probably seems simple, obvious and an easy thing to do, but it surprised me in the best way. Turned my whole day around!
#2 The Little Things
This is something I enjoy doing. When your girlfriend or partner goes into the shower, sneak into the bathroom and steal her towel. Then, toss it in the dryer for a few minutes and wait for her to get out and wrap it around herself. You get bonus points if you scare the bejesus out of her. It’s the little things.
#3 Extra Coffee
My husband leaves for work earlier than I do. He usually heads to work while I'm out walking the dog. I have come home to a cup of coffee waiting for me every work day for the last five years. This simple gesture doesn't cost him a single thing. All it “costs” is the few extra seconds to pour out another cup.
#4 Hey, That’s Limited Edition
I made a big deal about handwashing a limited edition Jack Daniel's bee glass so it wouldn’t get damaged in the dishwasher. It would also lessen the chance of it breaking. I washed it one day and left it on the drying rack, and I accidentally knocked it to the floor. My husband laughed so hard at me but I had two new glasses the next week.
#5 Comically Bad
My partner and I share a similar sense of humor, but out of the two of us, I’m the only one who can actually draw well. Despite this, he decided to poorly draw me a comic book of bad puns for our first anniversary. It’s been five years since he gave it to me and it still makes me laugh when I look through it.
#6 20 Years Strong
Generally, I make coffee for both of us every day. I bring it to her and we spend about an hour waking up in bed and talking to each other about the news, the kids and grandkids, and what our day is going to be like. Most nights she'll sit between my legs on the floor as I sit on the couch behind her and I'll brush her hair for about 10-15 minutes as we watch TV. We're coming up on 20 years together and 18 married. I really couldn't be happier. I love doing little things for her.
#7 Car Service
If you live together, do a chore that they normally handle. If you're gunning for, "Wow!" do all of the chores that day. Pay attention to small things that they want or might need. As an example, I haven't been driving for weeks because I injured my foot. The day before my planned first day driving again, my spouse filled my car with gas and wiped down the windows because it had been sitting gathering dust.
#8 House of Cards
One thing I do for my SO is buy random greeting cards that look cool and I’ll just write a sweet note in it for her. Sometimes it’s a birthday card when it isn’t her birthday, or an anniversary card on Halloween, or a happy Hanukkah card even though we aren’t Jewish. But, it always makes her laugh at whatever random card I picked and smile at what I wrote in it.
#9 Blowin’ Up Her Phone
I told my boyfriend how much I loved whenever I got a text from him in the middle of the day for seemingly no reason. I guess that falls under "words of affirmation," but I really appreciate those messages. To me, it's a little reminder that he's thinking of me. We were talking and he said he enjoyed doing it. I told him, "You could blow up my phone and I would not stop you. I love it." I didn't expect him to actually do it because I thought that was asking for too much and we’re both busy adults.
The next day, he "blew up my phone" with memes and pictures of what he was doing at work. He also sent flirty messages and it was the best. Obviously, I don't expect that all the time. But, what made me smile was the fact that he not only listened to me, but also that he remembered and did it because he knew it would bring me joy. Like, the man asked what I liked, I communicated that to him, and he listened.
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#10 Journal For Your Thoughts
Buy a nice journal (maybe $60 if you really splurge) and every day or so, doodle something funny that you guys experienced together. Or, write down a little something that they did you really appreciated, etc. Even just saving snippets of stuff from dates is nice! I did this for a long-distance relationship and mailed it over to him around his birthday. It wasn't too time-consuming as I didn't do it every day, but he was really excited about it. He said he loved the entries in particular where I wrote about something that reminded me of him just going about my day.
#11 While You Were Out
I keep later hours at work than my partner does. So, sometimes I'll just clean the whole place while she's asleep. It’s a nice thing for her to wake up to. I also installed one of those toilet hoses while she was at work once. She's from India and was always complaining about toilet paper. That was a big win.
#12 Highlight of the Day
Every morning before my dad goes to work, my mom brews him fresh coffee and writes little love notes on his disposable coffee cups. After years of her doing this, he collected all of his favorites, savoured them and cut them out of the cups. He then turned them into a collage and returned them to her as an anniversary gift. He still claims after many years that her notes are often the highlights of his days.
#13 52 Reasons
When I first started dating my wife, I decided to make a homemade gift for her. I got a deck of cards, hole-punched them, attached a bind, and wrote on each card. Every card had a different reason why I loved her. The whole project cost me no more than three dollars. To this day, it’s one of her favorite gifts.
#14 What They Want
Just listen to the little things they want! Have their favorite candy, drink, or whatever they love on hand. Replace anything you use from their house. Sneakily pay for things if they usually insist on it. Find a great shared experience (like a concert) and surprise them with tickets on a night you know they’re free.
#15 Selfie-brating Love
Check on Facebook in the events tab and take them somewhere. Most things are free, the local brewery was having a "Pet a Corgi" day, for instance. Print your selfies and make a small book, write down what you were doing during each selfie. Marathon the Marvel Universe, Harry Potter Universe, or Lord of the Rings Universe. (Or all 3, I won't judge.) You can get these for free at your library.
#16 You’re Home Now
I’ve never had the best home life and my boyfriend’s family welcomed me with open arms. Our first Christmas together, he and his family got me little things like a toothbrush, a shower scrubee, a really soft blanket, etc. Just little small things that told me that was my home now. There were a few things he got me two of because one was for my house and one was for his. It was one of the sweetest things anyone ever did for me.
#17 Treasure Chest
I bought a small, cheapish, wooden chest from Michaels and very carefully initialed my significant other’s initials onto the top. Then, I covered the whole thing with wood stain. It turned out quite beautiful, actually. I drew some cool drawings on the inside and filled it with small but meaningful gifts to him.
#18 Matching Pair
Last year for Christmas, my husband got us a subscription for matching underwear. We get a fresh pair every month. I normally get ready and leave for work well before him. So, it’s so fun to get ready for bed and realize we matched underwear all day! Plus, they’re adorable. Last month, we got pairs with sloths on them.
#19 Two Mugs
Last week, I dropped my coffee and broke my favorite mug. It was a Starbucks mug I got at a thrift store years ago, so I was kind of bummed that I probably couldn't get another one. My husband made fun of me for being upset about a mug. Then we laughed and went on with our lives. Two days later, I came home and opened the dishwasher. There was not one, but two of the exact same mug. My husband made fun of me, but then immediately found a set of two on eBay and got them. He's surprised me with way more expensive things, but these mugs made me much happier. It really is the little things.
#20 How to Send Flowers
Here’s a pro tip on how to send flowers. Do not order from an internet service. Use the internet to find a florist local to them. Phone them and talk to them, explain what they like and what you want. Spend as much as you can afford. I sent my ex flowers one time after she was in the hospital. I spent about a hundred dollars. Her family still talks about it to this day.
#21 Chinese Garden
One of the best presents my wife ever gave me was a membership to a Chinese Garden that was an easy walk from my office. It's in a part of town that she rarely visits, so it was something that was just for me to use on my lunch hour. I could visit at different times of the year, take pictures, and get away from my desk for a little while. It did wonders for my sanity.
#22 You Had a Bad Day
I remember one time when my fiancèe knew I was having a super bad day. I came home, ready for a night in, and saw an open cider and my video game with my most recent save paused. That way, I could jump right in. She gets home from work just before I do, so this little gesture of hers honestly meant so much to me.
#23 Road Trippin’
We go on adventures with one another. My advice? Pack lunch in the ice chest. Download some audiobooks from the library. Drive to a place that's several hours away and sounds interesting. Gas and snacks should come in well under $100. We both love traveling in the car, though, so it might not be for everyone.
#24 True Arianator
My long-distance girlfriend absolutely loves Ariana Grande. She had all this wishlist merchandise she wanted but couldn't afford. So, I’d just buy her a couple of bits or perfume and a shirt or two. It might not seem like a lot, but she’s been through a lot these past six months, so it’d just be an uplifting thing for her.
#25 Framed Cards
I drew my partner’s birthday cards for the past three years we’ve been dating. She loves them and shows everyone. She’s even gone ahead and framed them. It helps to be good at art, though, but the blank cards have about 20 cards in the pack. So, those three bucks or so I spent will stretch for another 17 years.
#26 Fantasy Room
Okay. Use the money to buy various blinking string lights for either one room in the house or outside, depending on her liking. I'm going with inside the home, but this is adaptable. If you’re using a room and can get her out of the house for the afternoon, cover the ceiling with these lights. Hook them all up to a power strip so all can be turned on by one switch. This switch would need to be mounted on the wall by the main light switch. It wouldn't cost too much, but it does take up a lot of time for set-up.
Next, get a good fluffy blanket to drape over a cushioned chair. Then I would buy a very puffy pillow, the same deal as the blanket. Next, with some creative luck at Goodwill or such, find a good foot rest. It could be wooden or even an artsy piece. It really all depends on how much money you have left at this point. You also have the option to buy a small folding tray table.
Then, flip the switch and you’ll have this magical, almost fairy-tale room. It can be her reading room where she can sit in a comfy chair with soft pillows. It shows her that you gave some serious thought and care enough to put in the work to give her this room. This project is also less than one hundred dollars.
#27 Simple Gestures
My wife is a pretty simple person. She likes it when I come home and tell her we're going to go out to dinner. She also enjoys when I ask her out to a movie and then get ice cream or a banana Slurpee from 7-11. Outside of that, I send random text messages telling her I love her. I also send her flowers or chocolate-covered strawberries when I'm out on the road working and won’t be home for a few days. I also give her back massages every chance I get.
#28 More Than Gold
A scrapbook. Save little things like ticket stubs, receipts, takeout menus, stickers, photos, flyers, etc. Just keep a shoebox in your closet and put all that stuff in it. Once the box gets full, buy a scrapbook and some glue sticks and glue the items to the pages. Write little notes about the experience, like, “This was the day I remember thinking for the first time I wanted to marry you.” A thoughtful scrapbook is worth more than gold to a lot of women.
#29 Deep Clean
Pay for a cleaner to come and do a deep clean of the house. I'm talking about all the horrible stuff that builds up like under appliances, tops of doors and light fittings, the skirting boards, etc. All that stuff that doesn't usually get done during normal housework. Do it on a Friday so when she finishes work, she gets home and has no housework to do over the weekend. You'll reap the rewards, brother.
#30 Something Silly
For less than $100, my husband and I can go shoot pool for a few hours or go to an arcade and semi-ignore each other while playing pinball. You can also go bowling for less than $100. Presents are nice, but nothing’s really as fun as doing an activity together. You should aim to do something fun, something silly.
#31 Above the Bed
My guy was stressed out with his old job. So one day, when I had a weekday off, I went and bought his favourite snacks. I also grabbed a fresh pair of socks, his favourite body wash and some balloons. I cleaned up our bedroom, made the bed, and tied everything to the balloons so they were floating above the bed.
#32 Rainy Day Picnic
Make a living room picnic on a rainy day! Buy a cute picnic basket and fill it up with some nice snacks and drinks, put down a blanket on the living room floor and light some candles. Another present I love making is a personal photo album. Take some old and newer photos, take them to a place where you can print them as actual pictures, and decorate the album. Also, maybe something practical? Have they mentioned that they’d like to learn something new? You can get them something related to that.
#33 Private Viewing
One time my ex-girlfriend was pretty ill and it was her birthday. She didn't feel up for going out, so I grabbed some sheets and rearranged our living room. I made something that was like a kid’s den. It had the sofa on one side and the TV on the other. I ran to the shop and bought popcorn. We then watched her favourite film.
#34 Neat Conversation Piece
I found a really cool gift for my wife on Etsy. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s an online store for handmade crafts. I got her a wooden bracelet that had the latitude and longitude of the winery where we got married in brass. It's a pretty random and neat conversation piece. I think it cost maybe $45.00 with shipping.
#35 Victorian Tea Room
My boyfriend really loves getting dressed up, going out to eat and trying “fancy” food. So for our anniversary, I’m taking him to a Victorian-style tea room that we have in town. They serve you three courses and three pots of tea with a new theme each month. This month is Peter Pan and we both joke about not wanting to be adults. So, we’re going! I think it's about $84 for two people.
#36 Cat in the Hat
I highly recommend referencing an inside joke for a meaningful and inexpensive gift. In my case, I got artwork created referencing an inside joke of ours. My boyfriend had a childhood fear of The Cat in the Hat, which he still vehemently defends as logical. One day he said, “This is so bad I'd rather have tea with the Cat in the Hat." So, I got a flat vector illustration commissioned of him having a very, very uncomfortable tea with the Cat. I used Fiverr for the flat vector and it cost me $16. A frame cost $29, bringing the total to under $50 for the best gift I've ever given someone.
#37 For the Road
I still have a mixtape from a man I was madly in love with. He gave it to me in the ‘90s before I went on a road trip that kept us apart for almost a year. He took that paper insert inside the tape case and noted every moment we had together that corresponded to each song. He passed away young and I miss him very much to this day. But, that tape is with me forever, along with the songs on it and his words. To me, it’s everything. Give your time, your love and your effort… save the cash!
#38 Ahead of the Curve
My husband makes my lunch and my to-go coffee every morning before I go to work. I have to be at work two hours earlier than him and I’m always rushing around because I’m annoying and don’t manage my time. So, he knows that this is something that will take him less than 10 minutes and literally makes my morning every day.
#39 Thinking of You
For me, it's gestures that show my boyfriend was thinking of me. At one point before we started dating, I went straight from work to meet him for a concert. He'd picked up fast food so I could eat dinner during the drive. I thought it was the nicest and sweetest thing. A few months later, it came up in conversation and I told him how I thought about it all the time. It wasn't about him buying me dinner — just that he thought about me and picked up food, knowing that I'd be hungry and didn't have time to eat.
#40 A Little Help
A lesson on a skill or hobby they’re into. I love cooking and for my upcoming birthday, my boyfriend got me a gift certificate for a cooking lesson. I was floored that he got me something so meaningful that also helps me. Obviously, the cost will vary based on who’s teaching, what the hobby is, etc. But, it’s still a great gift.
#41 You’ve Got Mail
If you happen to travel a lot for work, send them postcards from all the different places you visit. Tell them you miss them or wish they were there or whatever other cutesy thing you can think of. You also don’t need to do this from abroad. This works even if you buy them from around town and send them locally!
#42 Paying Attention
One time, I was crying after having a really bad day. My friend bought me a Dr. Pepper and a pack of Swedish Fish. It made my day 200% better, not because of the actual items, but because I never even mentioned that that was my favorite feel-better snack. He just paid attention and noticed. I realized people really did pay attention to and care about me.
#43 Dinner is Served
As a former broke college student, a few years ago for Christmas, I bought my girlfriend at the time a dress at a consignment shop. I made her her favorite dinner that her mom always made growing up. I dressed up in my one black suit and we had a lovely dinner in for about $50 - $60. That cost included the dress and all.
#44 Carrying On the Tradition
My dad recently passed away. He was known for his cheesy card purchasing; his favourite pastime was picking cards for all of us every holiday. My husband has since started buying cheesy cards for my whole family, not just me. It’s probably the sweetest, kindest thing anyone has ever done for me. It costs him about eight dollars and 10 minutes’ time.
#45 More Enjoyable
Being there for them is probably the best thing you can do. So, if you know that your partner likes to do nature activities, come up with a plan to do something related to their interest. Think of it as a test to see how well you know your partner and what they’d enjoy. Remember, experiences are often more enjoyable than material items!
#46 Hershey Pies
My girlfriend likes those cheap Hershey pies from Burger King. I know this because I got her one on our first date. I randomly bought one the other day and hid it in my bag of BBQ chips. I waited until she talked about wanting a snack when we were watching a movie. I grabbed my chips and opened the bag towards her. She stuck her hand in and pulled out the Hershey pie. She started to cry. It was nice.
#47 I Love How You…
We bought a little notebook that we left on the kitchen counter about the size of a post-it note pad. The first page said, “I love how you...” and we took turns filling in each page. One day, I’d put something in, the next day she’d put something in. We did that until it was full. I still look at it a couple of years later and so does she.
#48 Discount Flowers
A while back, I was dating this girl who hated surprises, but I liked to get her stuff so I had to be secretive. One day, she slept over so I hadn't had a moment alone to step out. So, I told her, "I'm just going to get milk." I came home with a bouquet of discount flowers and a three-dollar vase… she cried. It's the small things that count, fellas.
#49 ‘50s Housewife
My significant other doesn't work because of medical reasons. She does keep the house clean, cook, and all that. Think of a ‘50s housewife. It works for us. Anyway, she wakes up about a half-hour before me for no other reason than to pack me lunch and fix my cup of coffee before I leave for work. She's awesome.
#50 Propose a Toast
Shortly after my fiance and I got engaged, we were at an arcade and I won a little plastic ring. I proposed back at him with it in the middle of the arcade. It spawned a tradition of proposing to each other with increasingly silly things — a container of Kirkland slim jims, a rock, the ring thingy off a milk jug, a single hot pocket, etc. It has yet to cost a thing, and it makes us both ridiculously happy. We take turns — it's his right now.