How to Make Valentine’s Day Special on a Budget

valentinesdayLove with diamonds and a five star meal is neither a necessity nor necessarily a meaningful expression of love for Valentine’s Day. Having the means to pay for expensive gifts and experiences does not relieve the giver from expressing love personally, nor does it relieve the recipient from returning such love personally.

If you’re worried that your funds can’t stretch far enough to give your beloved a Valentine’s Day to remember, realize that the best experience on Valentine’s Day is having your partner come away from it with the absolute knowledge that they’re loved, cared about, and wanted. Save your money and still have a great Valentine’s Day.

1. Avoid equating love with consumption. It’s easy to get bogged down in the buying frenzy surrounding Valentine’s Day, as retailers vie to rake in some decent profits from romance-inspired lovers. Love isn’t about what you give in goods though; it’s about what you give by way of time, attention, and acknowledgment of the other person. And none of those can be purchased. Once you view Valentine’s Day from the perspective of it being about acknowledging and celebrating your love by spending time together, it’s easier to realize that a budget Valentine is still a perfect date opportunity.

2. Minimize rather than do without. One of the tricks to saving money on Valentine’s Day is to still indulge in some of the traditional Valentine’s accessories but to reduce them. For example, instead giving her a dozen red roses, give her one, held in your teeth, and accompanied by your best impression of a Spanish dancer. Or, give him a special brand of chocolate bar instead of a whole box of expensive chocolates. In this way, you can still participate in the essence of Valentine’s Day but spend very little.

3. Make your own. A homemade card is always more meaningful than a purchased one. It says not only what you write in it but also “I took the time to make this because I care enough about you to give that time.” As far as mementos go, it’s likely the card will be kept for many years to come! Other things can be made too, for gifts. Draw on your own skills when making gifts; for example, if you’re a keen gardener, give something from the garden; if you’re a keen cook, make something delectable; if you’re a keen outdoor enthusiast, give a fully guided nature walk or a lesson in your favorite sport.

4. Think of something you can do for your love. An excellent way to show your love can be through making love coupons or vouchers. These can contain promises that range from the mundane to the downright sexy, all depending on your willingness to do things for your love. Make a large heart from construction paper; attach as many coupons as you’re willing to give. Some examples include:

5. Exchange cheesy but sweet gifts that remind you of one another, for whatever reason. You can either initiate this yourself, or suggest it as a Valentine’s tradition for the two of you. The item should be very affordable, and recall some experience that the two of you have had together. Make a nice card that explains the gift but don’t be too cheesy in what you write. For example:

6. Give time. Giving time is the ultimate romantic gesture. It will mean a great deal if you’re usually stretched for time and you choose to give up the whole day to spend with your beloved, doing things together that have nothing to do with work, raising a family, paying bills, etc. Banish the mundane and just allow the day to be about the two of you together. As part of this, be thoroughly attentive, listen, and take the chance to share dreams and hopes for the future, including renewing dreams that might have been taken for granted over time. If you can, find babysitters for the kids so that you’re truly alone. If not, let the kids know that this is a day for “mom and dad” and get them helping in making it special.

    • This voucher is good for one week of dish washing by me, no questions asked.
    • This voucher is good for guaranteeing one season of your favorite TV show to be shared with me. And a promise that there will be no channel surfing during said show.
    • This voucher is good for one loving foot massage. To be redeemed any time.
    • This voucher is good for one massage in a bubble bath. Any time of day or night.
    • This voucher is good for a long snog in front of a movie of your choice.
    • This voucher is good for the night of your wildest dreams. To be redeemed when you’re in the mood.
    • A cheap plastic snow globe with two hearts inside. Write that it reminds you of the night when she fell in the snow, and that when you came to pick her up, you couldn’t help noticing how adorable she looked surrounded by snow.
    • A plastic surfboard key ring. Write that it reminds you of the month the two of you spent surfing in Bali and how it was there that you realized you wanted to surf the rest of your life with him.
    • A brooch featuring a computer and mouse. Write that it is a reminder of how the two of you met online and how you’ll never forget the beauty of her first smile by video chat.

7. Create a special evening at home together. Make a meal in which you go to extra trouble. It doesn’t have to be expensive food; just spend time making it more complicated and interesting than the usual daily meals. Look online for recipe ideas to help you turn ordinary ingredients into something fabulous. If you’re going to watch a special DVD together, be sure to make some tasty popcorn to share.

8. Stargaze. Put on warm clothes and step out to check out the night sky. If you have to travel, add picnic rugs, a thermos of warm drink, some snack bars, and a full tank of fuel. Find somewhere on the city outskirts where the sky is clear. Take along a star chart and look for stars that you know. Choose a star just for the two of you and make a promise to look for it every Valentine’s Day.

    • Spell “I love you” on the plate using food! Use your beloved’s favorite food if you can.
    • Make a love heart pizza.
    • Playing board games is another entertaining option for passing the evening in fun rivalry. Or, set up a video or online game that the two of you can get deeply involved in, provided both of you really enjoy such games.

9. Be spontaneous. Do the unexpected and thrill your beloved. Secretly learn a few dance moves and surprise her by taking out to dance. Memorize his favorite poem and recite it after dinner, then present him with a rose you’ve grown yourself. Make it appear as if the two of you are set to have a movie night in, then suddenly gasp: “Oh my! We mustn’t miss ……” And drag her out the door to see the sun set, watch a movie, listen to a visiting band, or whatever else you think is most appropriate.

10.  Take a walk down memory lane together. Take your beloved to somewhere they told you was special to them as a child. Spend time walking around it and asking questions about their feelings. Explain that it might not be the same as when your beloved was young but that now your beloved has two memories of the special place – one without you and one with you. Be sure to take a photo of the two of you there! Another way of remembering the past is to dig out old photos and go through them together. Look at photos from both your childhood times and your times together. It’s great to have an excuse to enjoy all those photos that get stowed away and forgotten about!

11. Say “I love you”. It doesn’t cost anything but it says and means a great deal. Don’t be shy; say it a lot during the day. Tell your love how you really feel. He or she will appreciate your honesty and it will mean more than any gift could.

Other Tips:

  • Don’t do nothing!…even if she says “you don’t need to do anything.”
  • Whatever you do, put all of you into it. It always shows.
  • Ask someone to help you make your idea better, by going over it with you or helping out in making it come true.
  • If you’re not positive it’s going to be a hit, scrap the idea. Nothing worse than a guess on the day of love.