We’ve all been there: It’s almost Valentine’s Day you have no idea what to do for your sweetheart. Maybe you’ve been together for years and Valentine’s Day is simply no big deal anymore. Or you have a brand new special friend and you have no idea what he or she would like.

These days we like to pretend we’re impervious to silly holidays that make our lovers happy. Truth is, we all love to be pampered by the person we love. Most of us are simply afraid of overexpressing ourselves, or worried that we will be disappointed when the love of our life comes up short.

Lose the cynicism and start fresh this year. Follow these five simple steps to become the best Valentine anyone could ask for, this year and in the years to come:

1. Have no expectations.
Nothing ruins Valentine’s Day more than having big expectations: imagining your paramour will sweep you off your feet, feed you caviar, leave roses all over the bed… Then you’re thoroughly disappointed when the love of your life gives you a simple peck on the cheek. Don’t create expectations about what you want your lover to do. Instead, devote yourself to his or her happiness without expecting anything in return. This is the essence of love: It’s not about what you receive, it’s about how you give.

Hearts Blush Lingerie

Hearts: Photos by flickr members Maraie, Ian Ransley and Lara604

2. Make something.
Remember when you were a kid and everyone gave out paper Valentines in class? Half the kids gave out exactly the same store-bought valentine cards. And the other half made awesomely crooked hand-written cards with kooky pictures and glitter. The same goes for big person Valentine gifts. Sure, a dinner out is always delightful. But it’s the same experience that thousands of other couples are having at the same time: cookie-cutter Valentine’s Day. Be yourself and make something with your hands that your Valentine will keep and remember: a card, a meal, a sensual performance… with glitter, of course.

3. Surprise.
Love is all about surprise: discovering new things about yourself and your partner. Book some time for the two of you, but don’t tell your lover what’s going to happen. Do something that he or she would never expect. Instead of asking for your special friend to fulfill your fantasies, create surprise by fulfilling one of your couple fantasies. Maybe it’s dress-up, or going somewhere you’ve never been. We don’t know… because they’re your fantasies. You may find that you’ll surprise yourself as much as you thrill your lover.

4. Keep it simple.
A rookie Valentine will try to stage something grandiose and complex. You know: Create a thrill for all five senses at once: feed their lover oysters, tickle with feathers, play the sweetest music, and so on… In fact, the happiest times in a relationship are often the simplest ones. Take your special friend out for a walk to your favorite park and point out everything that is magical about it. Curl up and read aloud from a beloved novel. Or dim the lights and run a bath for your paramour. We’re surrounded by simple and delightful things to do. Choose just one and put your whole heart into it. Delight will follow.

5. Block off special time.
We’re all busy. And we’re all distracted by our devices. Whatever you plan for your Valentine, make a point of blocking out all other commitments and distractions. Turn off your phone. Clock out of work. Hire a babysitter. Tell family and friends that you’re simply not available. Buffer your time with your special friend so you have no commitments one hour before your date, and at least one hour after. This is magic time.

To sum up: It’s not about what you give, it’s about how you share. Choose one gift or event. Make it yourself. Keep it simple, and give to your lover with no expectation of receiving. You’ll soon realize that the best Valentine’s gift you could give yourself is a happy beloved.

Peaceful Hearts Doctor by Banksy

Banksy’s Peaceful Hearts Doctor by flickr member Eva Blue