NEW YORK (MainStreet) — There's a lot of pressure associated with Valentine's Day, and most people respond by shelling out cash. According to the National Retail Federation, men spend about twice as much as women do, to the tune of $175 on predictable gifts like candy, flowers and jewelry.

For those who want to make Valentine's Day truly special, it helps to think outside of the box. We've got ideas to inspire you this year, and perhaps even save you a few dollars as well.

Learn something new

Research has shown that learning new things together is a great way for couples to increase satisfaction in their relationship. So for Valentine's Day, plan an activity that is new to both of you, like an improv class or a wine-pairing lesson. Even if you decide never to do it again, the act of learning something new is likely to bring you closer together than another year of flowers and candy.

Get your adrenaline pumping

Adrenaline plays a big role in the beginning of a relationship, and as times goes by, it's important to get your adrenaline pumping once again. Instead of doing something quiet and romantic for Valentine's Day, why not visit a rock-climbing gym or try an aerial yoga class? Even watching a scary movie together can produce enough adrenaline to make you feel more connected.

Make a game of it

The word "competition" comes from a Latin word that means to come together. Depending on your relationship dynamics, competing against each other might be a fun way to spend Valentine's Day, or you might be better off working as a team and competing against other couples. Your local bar is a good place to find activities, like participating in trivia nights or playing pool or darts. Or host your own game night, and play something fun, like Twister, Pictionary or Apples to Apples.

Skip the card

Valentine's Day Cards are usually pretty cheesy, but that doesn't stop us from spending 1.5 billion dollars on them each year. Rather than waste time sifting through a bunch of pink greeting cards, buy some nice stationary and write a thoughtful letter to your loved one instead. Consider listing some of the reasons you love them, or reminiscing about past experiences. Putting in the effort to write down your feelings will mean far more than a $5 card.

--Written by Lauren Lyons Cole for MainStreet