It's an unfortunate fact that these days, too many guys haven't got a clue when it comes to romance, and have no idea what to do to sweep their girlfriend off her feet. Don't worry, that's completely normal. Many are aware that sentimentality isn't one of the emotions that men are typically in touch with.

This means that when an anniversary comes around, guys often panic when they have to find a present for their partner, and think they must fork out a fortune on an expensive gift just to prove their appreciation for their girlfriend.

What they really need to know is that true love doesn't cost a cent.

Romance isn't the same thing as spending an elaborate amount, and posting a stream of Facebook statuses about her. So in this article, you will read about some key anniversary gift ideas which are heartfelt, meaningful, and most of all, frugal, and are sure to bring your girlfriend all she could possibly ask for.

1. Create a personalized calendar with a unique touch

While not many people think of a personalized calendar as a perfect anniversary gift, it is actually a thoughtful and cute idea! There are lots of websites that allow you to add a personalized photo to match each month or season, and you can even add comments or pictures to the calendar about standard events such as her birthday, or even some more unique occasions that are meaningful just for the two of you (like the anniversary date of when you first moved in together; or the anniversary date of when you were introduced to her family). Believe it or not, adding details in to the calendar about events in your life that are unique to just the two of you speaks volumes of your affections for her. It might be hard for you to imagine, but commemorating an occasion that she assumes you have completely forgotten about (and perhaps which even she has probably forgotten about) signifies how deeply sentimental you are about the relationship, and could really blow her away! Of course, you don't need to stop at just a calendar! All personalized gifts are perfect, whether that be a blanket, quilt, pillow, mug or picture frame. Choosing a personalized gift with some loving words, a special message, or a photo of the two of you is very meaningful. And for a greater range of personalized ideas, you can read our section on handcrafted anniversary gift ideas here.

2. Surprise her with some spectacular color

All women love romantic surprises, but there is often no better way to surprise her than to fill a room with spectacular color. On your anniversary, scatter  deep red rose petals on her bed, but also include the petals of some other flowers that she particularly loves, or perhaps the petals of a flower that are unique to this particular anniversary occasion. For example, the 3rd anniversary is symbolized by a sunflower or fuschia. Alternatively, inflate a whole bunch of balloons in her favourite colors, or in the colr theme of your anniversary year. For example, the 2nd anniversary is signified by the color red. For more information on the symbols for each anniversary occasion, you read our section on anniversary gifts by year here. And keep adding to the occasion by attaching a meaningful photo to each balloon from every month or year you have spent together, or, add a personal note to each balloon commemorating a special event you may have attended together, or a line of poetry. For an extra bonus, why not present her with a personalized photograph album or scrapbook with the date and occasion inscripted on it (in fancy writing or stitching), so that she has a special place to treasure the photos and messages forever when the special day is over? Provide enough photos and notes for a nice selection of memories to reflect upon.  

3. Plan an adventure

Whether you take her for a date in the park, a hike on your favorite trail, or a trip to the beach, you should organize a picnic basket with a bottle of wine, some wine glasses and a plate of cheeses and other nibblies you love, and don't forget to take a blanket! Spending a wonderful day together, reminiscing about the time you have spent with each other while enjoying some delicious wine is sure to not just sweep your girlfriend off her feet, but will even make her fall passionately in love a second time. It costs hardly anything to take your girlfriend to a treasured place, splash out on a bottle of wine, and enjoy your beautiful memories. For a range of other anniversary activities, see this section on romantic and unique things to do.

4. Write a card or letter

Think Noah from “The Notebook”. Even if you aren't Shakespeare, when you write down your feelings through a short string of words, or even some single words on their own, you will express the depths of your sentimentality for your relationship together. Especially if you are the sort of guy who struggles to express himself, a gesture like this will truly touch her. Women know that it is the thought that counts, so the effort you have taken to write this note will mean even more, even if your writing is a mess and you're scared to death while she reads it. Her heart is sure to melt at the cuteness of it.

5. Buy a star for her

While this may seem like a stretch, think about it – what girlfriend wouldn't want to have a star named after her? Adopting a star doesn't cost a lot. Even better, why not give money to a charity on her behalf, or perhaps buy some tickets to a charity event that you can attend together.

In conclusion: What women really want

While many men suffer from confusion when they have to plan a romantic gesture, believing in spending a fortune isn’t always the best route way to her heart.

Love doesn't cost anything. It is certainly not about impressing your girlfriend by throwing money at her or buying her an expensive present such as a designer watch, purse or shoes. Any other person in her life can buy her something extravagant like this, like her sister or a parent. However, only someone intimately special to her can really give her anything that is listed in this article.   

A sentimental gift will endure for a lifetime, have no expiry date, and will never go out of fashion. For a greater range of other ideas, you can read my article here on celebrating a romantic occasion such as your anniversary.

So for all you men out there... who ever said that chivalry is dead? Take this useful advice and see your loved one’s face light up when she receives your romantic gesture.

For any other day of the year when you are pondering about how to most please the beloved lady in your life, don’t look into your wallet for the answer. Don’t ask her either, because there are actually many things she won’t tell you. So you can find out more here about what women really want.

I would love to hear your comments or answer any questions you might have about this post.

Yours sincerely,   

Dr. Carissa Coulston, Clinical Psychologist

BSc(Hons), MPsychol(Clinical), PhD, MAPS