20 Free Ways to Show You Care


I would be lying if I said I didn’t like a shiny, expensive gift from my husband every now and then (because I do; I really, really do), but at the end of the day I can live without those things. There’s sentiment and good intention — and even love — behind the price tag of those gifts, but the gesture somehow doesn’t seem as genuine as when it comes straight from the heart and doesn’t cost a dime.

My husband and I exchange gifts around the holidays and on special occasions, but it’s the other days of the year that matter more — when we’re not obligated to head to the mall to show how much we love each other in the form of material possessions. Surprisingly, it’s more meaningful (and more fun) to concentrate on the everyday, even mundane small things that show how much we care for one another without reaching into our wallets. Here are a few of my favorites. (See also: 25 Ways to Say Thanks)

1. Cook a Favorite Meal

My husband isn’t fussy with his food, so it’s easy for me to whip up one of his favorite meals when I want to show him that he’s on my mind and that what he wants matters to me. Luckily, some of his fave dinners are some of mine too, so it’s never a bad compromise.

2. Run a Bath

After a long day of work, when you know your significant other could use a break, run a bath, fill it with bubbles, and invite your honey to soak his or her cares away.

3. Clean the House

If one of you takes on the brunt of the house-cleaning responsibilities, it’s a nice surprise for the other person to take initiative every now and then to let the primary cleaner know that his or her work is acknowledged and appreciated.

4. Wash the Car

Surprise your sweetie with a clean car the next time you want to show how much your care. Wash and wax the exterior and clean the interior for a full-blown vehicular makeover.

5. Give a Hug

My husband is big on hugs. Me, not so much. Because I’m not big on hugs, however, my husband knows that I’m in serious love mode when I reach out to squeeze him unexpectedly.

6. Make a Romantic Playlist

You can make a mix CD I suppose, but does anyone listen to those anymore? Whatever you use to create the mix, choose songs that your partner enjoys mixed in with a few romantic songs that you share.

7. Make a Card

I once made my mom a card for Mother’s Day, and it was probably the single-most cherished card she ever received from me. She still has it tucked away somewhere. It may not look at sleek as a Hallmark, but there’s something about a handmade card that embodies the genuine affection you have for its recipient.

8. Send a Sexy Text

It takes less than 10 seconds to send a text that says something sexy or sweet to let the person on the other end know that they’re on your mind.

9. Post a Sweet Nothing on Facebook

Let all your friends on Facebook know just how much you care about someone by posting a few nice words about that person. Make sure you tag that person in the post so you can be sure they see it.

10. Hold Their Hand

It can be a bit scary for my husband and I to hold hands in public — you never know what could happen — so when he grabs my hand while we’re out somewhere, there’s an immediate feeling of warmth that washes over me…despite what anyone else may think.

11. Plan a Date

Most dates aren’t cheap, but you can definitely plan a fun, free date if you employ a little creativity. One of my favorites when it’s warm out is to pack a picnic and head to a free outdoor movie screening nearby. When it’s cold out, grab the sleds and a thermos of hot chocolate on a snow day and spend an afternoon sliding, gliding, and laughing all the way.

12. Frame a Picture

No need to buy a new frame. Just remove an old photo from an existing frame and pop in a new one of you and the person for whom the framed photo is intended.

13. Ask About Their Day

This is one of the simplest ways to show you care, yet we often overlook it. Take a few minutes to show you care about someone by asking about their day and actually listening to what they have to say.

14. Dedicate a Song on the Radio

An oldie, but a goodie — call the radio station your honey listens to and dedicate a song to him or her. It’s always a cool, unexpected surprise when you hear your name on the radio.

15. Say "I Love You"

These three powerful words never go out of style. Say them to someone you care about today.

16. Give a Massage

I love a good massage, but they can be hard work, which is why I really appreciate it when my husband does this. It makes me feel like he really cares when he’s totally immersed in making me feel good.

17. Run an Errand

Give your partner a break by running an errand or two on their list so they can have more time to relax.

18. Prepare Lunch for Work

Pack a lunch for your partner for him or her to take to the office. Be sure to put in a quick love note for them to find later. Those are always good for a smile.

19. Make Love Coupons

You can make love coupons naughty or nice, but either way they let the recipient know that you care about making sure they feel appreciated. 

20. Give a Compliment

Giving a compliment hardly takes any time at all — so why do many of us fail to do this on a regular basis? Put an end to that today. Go home and give your sweetie a compliment on something (anything!), whether it’s the tasty dinner he or she prepared, a fresh haircut, new clothes, or a pat on the back for an accomplishment at work.

Have other ideas on free ways to show someone you care? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

These are all great ideas. My boyfriend recently ran me a bath and I loved it! I'm a bit of a freak when it comes to baths so there is more to it than just running it - he has to clean the tub first (even if it's mostly clean) and then run the bath and get towels ready etc. It's important to know your significant other's love language. That way, you can do for them what they most value.

Guest's picture

Great tips! I love your articles because I gain a great deal of practical knowledge from them. My wife loves massages and for the reasons you mentioned. It's work. I rarely feel like it. I've even paid for massages for her. But she says it means more to her if I give them. ; )

Mikey Rox's picture

Happy to hear you like my articles, Johnny. Thanks for letting me know that and brightening my day.

Guest's picture

I wonder how often people still give photos in a frame. I think I want to make it my trademark.I think I'm going to print this list and hand it to my kids.;0)

Mikey Rox's picture

What a nice compliment. Thanks, Karen!

Guest's picture

These are all really good ideas. I like the love letter. Even if you say it everyday to each other, there's something so special about taking the time to write down how you feel, and having the other person seeing those feelings in writing. There's nothing quite like seeing thoughtful and heart felt feelings in black and white.

Guest's picture

Really great ideas and so very easy to do! I especially like the handmade card. They become cherished items.

I once made an I Love You sign and posted it on the route my sweetie takes to work. He and several thousand other people saw it! It made his day!