If cracking the code on your girlfriend’s Valentine’s Day wish list makes you feel like a damn criminal mastermind, that’s because you are. But this heist is far less complicated and expensive than you think. Rather than spend half your month’s salary on a stuffy five-course dinner with 45 other couples in a trendy but too-small restaurant, the answer is simple: Pour your heart out, Shakespeare.

A written love letter is what 55% of Americans said would make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, according to online dating site EliteSingles.

Yes, seriously: America’s most-wanted present will cost you anywhere from $.50 to $6—and probably let you score far more than a box of drugstore chocolates ever would.

Of the 1,650 Americans surveyed, only 26% preferred eating at a nice restaurant and 12% wished for flowers and chocolates. 
The gesture is intimate, personal, and has long-lasting meaning; that’s why 88% of Americans think exchanging letters is an important part of a healthy relationship.

Have absolutely no idea how to go about writing a love letter? Don’t be self-conscious—75% of respondents said that writing honestly and being heartfelt was best, as was vulnerability. Read our step-by-step guide on how to write a love letter in the 21st century for advice on getting over your nerves, speaking from the heart, and ignoring the clichés.

Of course, you could run to Hallmark and pick out a card with fancy calligraphy (no glitter), then write your masterpiece. Alternatively, you can entirely customize a card straight from your iPhone or iPad using the app Felt. You can choose a photo of you and your lady, or one of the myriad designs. They’ve got everything major holidays and events, like bachelor parties, to current trending topics, like Stranger Things-themed templates), handwrite your message (using your finger or a stylus), then have the card mailed to her address (even the envelope can be personalized with your handwriting). One square card, plus the envelope, stamp, and shipping costs just $3.


Not only does this eradicate your trip to the store, it un-dramatically ups your status as a really good freakin’ boyfriend. Plus, you can keep the love notes (and, good times) rolling with this super-simple, thoughtful app far after the cheap teddy bears and tie-dye roses disappear from every street corner. Consider Valentine’s Day hacked.