Right, let me set the scene for you... It's November and the chilly weather has set in. Summer is but a distant memory and you've got a hot chocolate resting on your lap. Somewhere in the flat, Gilmore Girls is playing in the background, and frankly, life is good.
But lo! It's your significant other sashaying through the door just in time for the Carole King intro to sound with the marshmallows gently disintegrating in the mug. Life just got better.
Okay, so now I've got everyone wishing for both a lover and a mug of steaming hot chocolate. It's time for me to commence my list of the many ways in which you can express your affection for one another and truly make your favourite person melt. In a romantic way, not like a snowman way.
Anyhow, here's 25 surefire ways to wrap them around your sticky, chocolatey fingers...
The most material of all the love languages. This doesn't need to break the bank either. The real beauty of those of us who really get a kick out of giving gifts to our nearest and dearest is that we get to demonstrate just how well we know you! It's often the small gifts that are more treasured anyway; a nice bracelet is always a good idea. However, it's the embroidered notebook or limited edition signed book that gets used and loved. Even a special porridge pot can be thoughtful but also something that they will use every day and think of you when they use it. Well, providing that they like porridge, I guess.
2. Outdoor cinema trips
I'm talking 50s aesthetic 'sitting in the back of a pickup truck with a picnic' here. Something like Grease or The Sound of Music ought to be playing.
3. Surprise them
Give them a sausage roll from Greggs when you know they forgot their lunch at home. It goes a long way and will have them smiling all through the day until they can see you again.
4. Take a trip
Take them on a trip to their hometown in the middle of nowhere and accidentally forget your phone charger so that it's just you, them, and Netflix in the house they grew up in. You can't imagine how nice it is to be home for winter, and you'll guarantee yourself points with the parents for making an effort to include them in their children's lives.
5. Leave secret notes for them hidden around the house
This can either be a few post-it notes on their lunchbox or on the door reminding them that you love them and to take the bins out, or something more complex. Equally, you can write funny poems, leave them your favourite quotes, or draw them a stick figure and a heart. It doesn't have to be Shakespeare (in fact, probably better if not, to be honest) but if you play your cards right, it'll be something so meaningful to them that they'll want it tattooed on their chest. I'm being dramatic, but I'm also not.
6. Light them a fire
And have dinner ready for when they get home and have the door open so they don't have to fumble for their keys. It's the little things.
7. Pick them up from the airport, the train station etc
Generally, be there on hand to assist public transport in case it's feeling capricious and want to make your S/O's life more difficult than it needs to be.
8. Go fruit picking!
This one is more for the summer season, but it's a cute activity that can prompt some more unique activities - pie baking, jam making, or simply just seeing how many free samples you can snag before the owner realises. Busted!
9. Take them camping!
Even, and especially, if they haven't been camping before. You don't need to hike up the Alps. You can just sit outside in the garden with a tent and music playing while you eat s'mores and ice cream. Whatever works. But there's something about the smell of grass and the feeling of snuggling up together in blankets that really screams romance to me.
10. Try new recipes together!
Bake, the smell of vanilla essence will make all the hormones skewed, and your special bonding time can evolve into other types of special bonding time. Whatever you make doesn't even need to taste good. You'll put on some classic Taylor Swift bops in the background and feel appropriately like the montage scene of a romcom and that really is good for the heart. Unlike whatever baked good you've just made.
11. Paintball or foam party
Maybe this is a group exercise too, but you can either play it so that you're on the same team and protect each other, OR you can risk it all and resort back to being twelve year olds and play against each other. Let the competitive spirits rise, run about for a bit, and then slide tackle the person you love most to ensure that you win!
12. Make them hot chocolate with a hint of ginger with marshmallows and cream on top
I know I mentioned this briefly before but it was too essential to not repeat and make sure my message gets through. Marshmallows!!!
13. Read them poems aloud or read silently together on the same beanbag
Intimate, intellectual - need I say more?
14. Wear their clothes to bed or in the morning
We love a baggy jumper moment, and there's something instinctually great about your best person wearing your shirt to bed like a dress. It means that you fit in their world, and they yours. What a time.
15. Buy them the vinyl edition of their favourite album
Note, this probably works best when one of you has access to a record player, but that's neither here nor there. Nothing should get in the way of musical aesthetics.
16. Tuck them in when they fall asleep somewhere that isn't the bed
Put socks on them too if it's cold. We're not risking hypothermia on my watch
17. Sing to them
Or serenade them with an instrument that you play on a bleak midwinter day - it's romantic as heck and will have them absolutely at your mercy
18. Gently nudge a strand of hair out of their eyes
And try not to get too lost in their freckles
19. Compliment them on unexpected things
Their socks, their nails or talents - let them know that you notice and love them
20. Hug them
21. Tickle their feet
Don't ask me for this one, it just always made me feel cheeky and, weirdly, comfortable
22. Give foot-rubs or back-rubs
It's the best feeling in the world, plus they'll likely reciprocate the gesture
Go to dance classes on the sly and surprise them with whatever suits you when it's Christmas day or their birthday and you want to sweep them off their feet.
24. Tell them you love them
Mean it, too.
And finally, the most important way that you can love your partner in all the best ways:
25. Ask them what they want and how they like to be treated
What makes them feel special! You may feel like all the point of romance is the surprise, but that's not the case. Romance is intimacy and connectedness, where both parties feel heard, seen, and respected - that's what allows us to relax and be loved.
I truly hope that we can all rack up as many options on this list as possible. Don't mind me. I'm just forwarding this list to a certain individual...