“Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze. ” – Elinor Glyn
Everyone’s form of romance is different, though much of the population in Western Culture can be woo’d by something on this list. Romance, for the most part, takes planning, really knowing the person you’re intending to woo, and an utter lack of shame. The guys and gals at the drugstore and localmart at 6pm on Valentine’s Day with bruised flowers and picked over cards? That’s not romance; that’s desperation and obligation. You can do better; you both deserve better. To inspire you, we’ve put together a list of 25 Rom-Com Worthy Grand Gestures To Make You Swoon On Valentine’s Day.
Disclaimer: ANY romantic gesture from someone who either doesn’t know you at all, or has in any way (even gently or politely) indicated a lack of interest is STRAIGHT UP CREEPY. Don’t be creepy (this is for boys and girls and people who are neither and both).
Give her a Library.
You know what movie I’m talking about. You probably don’t have an enchanted castle lying around, BUT you might have a spare bedroom you can remodel for your sexy bibliophile. New paint, a nice made to look rustic floor, throw rug, even go crazy and get a faux fireplace, a wall of bookshelves, and a some cozy seating. Don’t have money or a spare room? Arrange for a free afternoon (if you have kids) a clean house, and a gift of a small pile of new books.
Surround them with their favorite flowers.
Remember that moment in Big Fish when Sandy looked out her window and there was Ed, standing in a field of daffodils? It uh..got her attention. And think about the EFFORT that took! While it’s maybe not the best way to introduce yourself, it’s a swoon worthy moment sure to never be forgotten. Possibly more realistic option? Send a bouquet of his or her favorite flowers every day.
Demand they marry you before you're both hanged by Germans.
While you may not be Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn in The African Queen, if you know your days (or minutes) are numbered, spend the time you have left wed to the one you love. On a more serious note, a terminal illness hasn’t stopped many couples from tying the knot, and it shouldn’t. What more reason to squeeze as much happiness as possible out of your remaining days than to already know they’re numbered?
Convert to their religion.
Some people have religions they hold very dear and deeply, and they consider it a core facet of their personal identity, or it’s a vital part to their family and culture. If you aren’t one of these people (or hey, even if you are), and you’re in love with someone who is, consider joining their religion or joining their church. It’s a big way to show, “I’m in, for life. For this life with you, to raise our kids this way.” Before you scoff at the idea, keep in mind many people convert for love, so it’s not unheard of.
Stand outside his/her room with a boombox playing the magical, "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel (or substitute whatever your song is).
When it came time for John Cusack to hold up the boombox in the scene, he originally didn’t want to do it – it seemed to “kowtowing” and “too subservient a move.” Well, yeah kids, that’s kind of the point. Sometimes being romantic means being humbled by something that’s greater than you are, and being willing to be made a fool out of. All the greatest romantics and romantic gestures get this – it’s not about you; it’s about them. This is why guys traditionally get on one knee when they propose, too. It’s the classic, “I’m here, humbly and unashamedly asking, Will you have me?”
Put in the work and make the effort to become someone worthy of their respect and affection.
Not only is this good life advice because it helps you to be humble and makes you a better person, it totally worked for Phil in Groundhog Day.
Help them cross off things on their bucket list.
This is awesome because it can be a grand, “Go live in Paris for two months in the Spring” or “African Safari Photography Trip” kind of thing, or it can be simple, small things with a lot of thought and effort – like getting a tattoo, or being in two places at the same time. If they’ve always wanted to learn to do something like ride a horse or pottery, book them lessons or learn together.
Re-enact a scene from their favorite movie.
Not everyone has a romantic movie or book they’re really REALLY into, but a fair number of people do. If your Beloved is one of these such people, re enact one of their favorite scenes. Have them meet you at the top of the Empire State Building; sit on the dining room table with their pink birthday cake between you; get drunk on champagne; go swimming and ask them to put you in their pocket; write on poster boards all the reasons they’re amazing and go through them while Christmas carols play; walk them past Tiffany’s at ungodly hours of the morning with pastry; fill their mailbox with Tic-Tacs or kiss in the rain. If it’s their FAVORITE MOVIE, you’ll know. If their favorite movie is Jurassic Park, you’re going to have to get creative and maybe buy them some chickens.
Convey your feelings through song.
Either in front of the student body, or the entire collegiate a cappella competition, or on a plane with Billy Idol. If you’ve got the pipes and the moves, SING YOUR HEART OUT. Seriously though, if you can sing or play guitar, there’s a local coffee shop with an open mic night somewhere near you. Get up there and do your best version of “To Make You Feel My Love” and see where the night ends.
Build them a dollhouse, if they're into that kind of thing.
Maybe you’re stuck together living in a tiny, drab, depressing apartment, working and/or going to school all the time, dreaming of more than 700 square feet. A dollhouse can be not only a thoughtful and cool gift, but a reminder of what you’re working towards and a promise that you’ll get there eventually – together.
Plant them a garden like David did for Elizabeth in "Just Like Heaven." (...or if they love gardening, do the physical labor like clearing space and tilling soil, buy the plants and or seeds and let them go to town).
Don’t have room for a garden? There’s a bazillion different kits for indoor window box herbs and small flowers you can order or purchase. Start them and surprise your love with seedlings!
Let Them Go.
If you love someone, and you truly love them selflessly, and you want what is best for them regardless of yourself, sometimes you have to let them go. Not “let them go and they’ll come back,” not “Let them go – then facebook stalk them.” Just…let them go, and know that you gave them the ability to go be happy, no strings attached. If you truly love them, you’ll find some happiness in knowing they’re happy.
Note: If you don’t cry at this scene, there are only two options: You haven’t been paying attention and have no idea what’s going on, or you’re a robot.
Confess your love/endless devotion/helplessness without them *in the rain*.
Rain makes everything insta-romantic. There are a few movies that illustrate this magic, Pride & Prejudiced to name just one. Just humbly say something like, “I feel like crap without you, life is sad when you’re not in it, and I desperately want you for the following reasons.” Don’t use those exact words. Google some poetry or memorize a hallmark card, grab a thesaurus, put forth effort.
Support what supports them.
Figure out their hobbies, their passions, and support it – build them an easel and buy them paints, build them a display case, show up to their concerts or recitals (with flowers and glowing praise), or buy them a journal. You don’t have to become a part of what they’re doing to take an *interest* in what they’re doing, and find a way to show your support for that. How is this romantic? It shows them that you *get* them, you see them, you support them, and you’re really proud of them.
Travel across the country - the state, the continent, the world, whatever separates you - to see their face.
There’s a reason Sleepless in Seattle is such a classic rom-com. Hopefully you and your significant other aren’t strangers, but maybe you’re in a long distance relationship (surprise them!) and you miss each other. Showing up with flowers and their favorite takeout is a pretty damn big romantic gesture. Being there waiting when they get out of finals with hot coffee and hugs is also a great idea.
Take them on a holiday.
Take them on a scooter ride through Rome. Get them an ice cream cone. Let them escape from their real life for a bit and feel like a princess escaping her real life for a little bit. It worked out pretty well for Gregory Peck. Rome. Scooter. Ice cream. (Realistically, a day trip to a local place you’ve never explored, with their work phone off or the kids at a babysitter’s provides the same idea. Tourists taking a day off. But still, y’know, ice cream).
Lasso the Moon.
Or, alternatively, buy that gorgeous old house that they love (nope, you don’t have to understand why they love it), fix it up and possibly raise a family with them in it.
Learn their native language and surprise them with it.
Heck, maybe even propose. If your Beloved’s mother tongue is not the same as yours, and you don’t know theirs, LEARN IT. And declare your undying love. (This is easily one of the best scenes in Love Actually.)
The general rule for romance is that it takes planning and thought, but sometimes – like when April & Andy drove to the Grand Canyon, or when Sam ran through the airport to tell Joanna goodbye – being spontaneous to show your love works out well. An impromptu road trip, a surprise dinner, weekend in Hawaii, a night in the Honeymoon Suite at the closest Four Seasons….Or just running wild with them when they have a random idea.
Move across the country or world to be with them and support their dreams.
Because you love them, and you know that living in a city you hate WITH them is better than living in a city you love WITHOUT them. So yeah, if the opportunity comes up, move to make their dreams come true like Jason Segel does in The Five Year Engagement & How I Met Your Mother.
Make a big deal out of their birthday, even if no one else does.
More specifically, do something to make sure they feel loved, remembered, and seen when everyone around them is going crazy, lost in their own dramas and life events. Even if that means sitting on the dining room table with a birthday cake, or doing something similarly sweet when it’s not their birthday.
Kiss them passionately (in public if this wouldn't embarrass them).
Google how to literally dip someone and kiss them, and do it. The person you love deserves to be kissed often, and by someone who knows what they’re doing, so make sure you’re doing that. Worried about your kissing technique? Practice. Netflix and Duh.
Make a fort with fake twinkly stars, lie in it together and talk about your dreams....and stuff.
Or make a pillow and blanket fort, pop some popcorn, figure out how to make s’mores inside, and have a movie night. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this. (While this wasn’t specifically done for Amanda Woods in “The Holiday,” Graham’s kids had a great fort that made for a very romantic scene.)
If your significant other doesn't like flowers, get them a bouquet of something they do enjoy - like "flours," Stranger Than Fiction style.
If they aren’t into baking, you could really do a bouquet of anything – chicken nuggets, or sharpies in weird colors or spools of fancy thread, or cookie cutters, or maps (if they’ve the wanderlust)…whatever their thing is. You can also hand make flowers out of pages of books or sheet music. Romance usually takes thought and planning and effort, and while maybe not costly, figuring out how to romantically present a bouquet of chicken nuggets takes some effort. Nothing says romance like finding creative ways to show them, “I see your weird, and I LIKE IT.”
Propose to them (again) and ask to renew your vows as in Everybody Loves Raymond.
It’s one thing to propose with optimistic young hope for the future and the unknown, but it’s a whole deeper thing when you’re saying, “We’ve been here, we’ve done this, we know this is hard, and I want to keep doing it with you because you’re that awesome.” Plus, if you want, you get to have a second big party and/or fancy clothing. Sometimes the wedding and the proposal aren’t that romantic. Sometimes you just go pick out a ring together without any big romantic surprise. Sometimes you get married at the courthouse or in your friend’s living room, or your plans just fell apart at the last minute. In this case, life will TOTALLY let you have a do-over.
Photos: 25. Jorge Royan via wikimedia commons, 24. crymsonflower.blogspot.com (fair use:movie still; illustrative purposes only), 21. youtube via mental floss (fair use: illustrative movie still), 20 indiewire.com (fair use: Illustrative movie still), 19. celebuzz.com (fair use: illustrative movie still), 17. blu-ray.com (fair use: illustrative purposes only), 16. fanpop.com (fair use: illustrative movie still), 15. hookedonhouses.net (fair use: illustrative movie still), 13. Alexander Mueller via flickr, 12. epicreads.com (fair use: illustrative movie still), 8. blu-ray.com (fair use: illustrative movie still), 7. webserieschannel.com (fair use: illustrative still), 6. Nicolas Huk via flickr, 5. alcheron.com (fair use: illustrative movie still), 3. Max Charping via flickr, 2. pattayah.blogspot.com (fair use: illustrative movie still), 1. Wesley Fryer via flickr