For some folks, Valentine's Day is the holiday they love to hate. Not me. I heart any tradition that involves chocolate, sexy music and anonymous poetry.

Yes, like most holidays, Valentine's Day has its commercialized dark side. But there also are plenty of ways to acknowledge your long-time love, secret crush or single self without breaking the bank (since, let's face it, the banks seem pretty much broken already).

Along these lines, we asked several Santa Fe couples for advice on their favorite cheap dates and also assembled a Valentine's calendar with plenty of affordable options. This isn't to say you shouldn't go shopping if you're so inclined—we've got some choice tips to get you started.

Is a romantic dinner in your future? SFR food writer A Qasimi tackles the relationship between food, love and sex in epistolary fashion, while Rani Molla faces her flower fears and comes out smelling like a rose…or, possibly, an orchid.

Still tense over all this love stuff? Loosen up, preferably with a group of friends in a hot tub or perhaps with some trained love experts.

Or maybe you're like me and just ready to have some old-fashioned Valentine's fun—DJ Melanie Moore sure is. Get her take on love, music and getting sexy on the dance floor.

Speaking of sexy, we think this year's Love & Sex cover art brings that concept home, which makes sense, since artist David Gonzales is the creator of Homies and a New Mexico homeboy himself. We caught up with Gonzales for a pre-Valentine's interview.

Julia Goldberg

EXTRA: Please enjoy SFR's slideshow of cozy pre-Valentine's portraits from our 2009 party