You know what the greatest Valentine’s gift of all time is? A fully loaded, pearl-white Ferrari made of roses.

But giving the same gift two years in a row would just be tacky. So this year you’re turning back the clock and winning Valentine’s Day the old-fashioned way: by writing a thoughtful, heart-melting and perfectly legible love letter.

Herewith: the Kempt Guide to Writing a Goddamn Stupendous Love Letter.

Step One: Gather the Materials.

If you try to do this electronically, it’s not a love letter— it’s cybersex. (Even if you keep it PG-13 and email a Nicholas Sparks novel’s worth of metaphor—still just really sappy cybersex.) Use a pen and paper.

In terms of pens, it’s hard to go wrong with a Parker. They’ve been in the inking game since 1888. And as far as stationery goes, no one does it quite like the NYC stalwarts of old-world printing-pressing and witty bluntness at Terrapin Stationers. (Depending on the recipient, this card might say all you really need to say.)

Step Two: Gather Some Inspiration.

Since you’re not the poet-in-residence at a small liberal arts college, start by limbering up your romantic lexicon.

Flip through some Shakespeare, or Pablo Neruda. Lady Chatterley, if you’re feeling frisky. But remember: it’s for inspiration only. You’re going to skip any gratuitous Victorian English, comparisons to heavenly bodies or steamy carriage windows. Then, throw on a love song, sit down by the fire/space heater and let the poetry within your pen burst forth with the force of ten thousand Niles. (Sorry.)

Step Three: Write This Sucker.

Start: the object of your affection’s name. Not “Dear (what’s-her-name).” Not “To my sweet (whoever-she-is).” Just the name. Oh, and a comma.

Continue: specifics. Simple anecdotes will get you miles further than the most well-crafted sonnet about red, red roses. Stick to the basics: things she’s said, her lovable quirks and any body parts she isn’t self-conscious about. Bonus: remembering the site of your first date.

End: “Happy Valentine’s Day.” And err on the side of short and sweet.

Step Four: Stand and Deliver.

You’ve got two delivery options here: hand-delivery or postal. While the mail is a traditional resource for people who don’t live in the same city, everyone loves getting a letter—so consider mailing, even if you cohabitate. (Sending it to her workplace is the easy one, but be creative.)

Step Five: Reap the Benefits.

Proceed with Valentine’s Day as planned. You’ll know soon enough if it had the desired effect.

Oh, and don’t forget the flowers. It’s fucking Valentine’s Day.

—J.W.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Jason Wire