1. Reference the good times. The inside jokes, pet names, and that totally annoying but also endearing thing your lady or gentleman does. Adding something personal to a card is an immediate and easy upgrade over just signing your name with an arrow pointing at whatever's printed inside.
2. Look to your significant other's favorite music. Two options here. 1. Digital mixtape: songs they love, songs you think they'd love, or songs that express how you feel. 2. Song lyrics that can be incorporated into your valentine. Any of these options demonstrates that you've been paying attention and are willing to put in a little work to make something special. (Also, movies. A little Disney or Harry Potter gif collection never hurt anyone.)
3. Use quotes from novels, poetry, and correspondence. Skip Shakespeare and the Romantic poets. (Unless that's what you're into.) I love Shakespeare and the Romantics, but there's so much more--countless authors and poets who have put their love into near perfect, weep-worthy words. All you have to do is seek them out. The Poetry Foundation has a page that sorts poems by occasions, seasons, and subjects. Guess what? They have 123 poems on love. Even if you don't find anything, you'll still have read some inspiring poetry and should be primed to write your own. Done and done! For author and book quotes, try Goodreads--A.A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh) is a great place to start.
4. Find inspiration in antique or vintage valentines. People used to talk real fancy and they declared their love in ornate and beautiful ways. Study those ways and then steal their technique. Last year, Design* Sponge featured a lovely collection from the New York Public Library. And don't worry if your lady or gentleman friend isn't into the intricacies of Victorian courtship, there are lots of less formal decades to choose from. Maybe your significant other or BFF has a particular love for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or She-Ra: Princess of Power. One word: ebay.
5. DIY yourself a cute punny card. If you're on Pinterest, you probably know the sort of thing I'm talking about: the card with a book of matches attached to the front where the caption reads: "We're a perfect match." Cute, right? And easy too. Real Simple put together a collection of just such handmade valentines, including the matchbook card.
6. Let clever people do the work for you. Just print and cut, email, text, or post on Facebook. Last year, Jennifer Lewis made some amazing illustrated Wes Anderson and Arrested Development valentines for Flavorwire. Beth Evans made her own Parks and Recreation and Breaking Bad valentines. But she didn't stop there; her tumblr has pages of sweet and silly pop culture valentines. And Marisa Seguin created these cute Arrested Development valentines. For 2014, Adam Ellis of Buzzfeed has crafted some literary valentines. Any hip lady or gentleman would thrilled to receive these little gems.