Money Saving 301
November 30, 2023

8 Ideas to Celebrate Valentine's Day on a Budget

Love is grand, but it shouldn't cost you a grand (or anywhere near it) to show someone you love them.

Although it’s easy to get carried away with romantic gestures like flower deliveries, fancy meals, and jewelry on Valentine’s Day, those expenses don't often fit anywhere in a typical monthly budget.

So how can you show someone you care without breaking the bank? Easy! With a little creativity and planning, enjoying this day with your significant other can be cost-effective and even free. After all, love shouldn't cost a thing!

Homemade Valentine’s Gifts

Remember when the biggest thing you did on Valentine's Day was to make a Valentine out of construction paper, glue, and markers? Show someone you love them with a homemade card. It may sound cheesy, but who wouldn't love to be transported back to simpler times with a handmade note straight from the heart?

You can take it one step further with a homemade gift.  Check out these ideas for inspiration:

  • Give candy with cute tags like “You’re my joy” with an Almond Joy, or “We go together like peanut butter and chocolate” with Reese Cups.
  • Write a poem.  Seriously, it’s worked for generations!
  • Write or sing a song that’s special to your sweetheart.
  • Create a picture frame collage of pics of the two of you.  Most of us have way more photos on our phones than we realize.  You can use Google Photos or sites like Walgreens to print photos directly from your phone.  Free Prints allows you lots of photo prints for free, and enlargements at a reasonable charge.
  • Make I.O.U cards for special gifts and services, like a foot rub, making dinner, or cleaning out the garage.  Aim for things your loved one especially likes or appreciates.
  • Make your sweetheart their favorite cookies or baked goods, especially from a childhood- or family-favorite recipe.  You’ll definitely earn some “brownie points.”
  • Use your unique talents to make something.  If you love painting, paint something.  If you’re a builder, make something they’ve been wanting, from a sewing table to a bookshelf to a garden box.  If you’re a photographer, take a great photo of the two of you.  Use your creativity to think about what your significant other (S.O.) might appreciate.

Make a Romantic Dinner at Home

A romantic dinner at home is always a well-received gesture.  Not sure what to make?  Many food bloggers now promote Valentine's Day menu ideas. You don't have to be too fancy or spend gobs of money on groceries. There are many low-key and budget-friendly recipes for a special day.

Try to create an experience, not just a meal.  Set the table nicely.  Consider some flowers and a few candles, if you like.  If your honey is coming straight from work, you could have soft PJs and slippers ready.  Or you can both dress up (or down) at home for a private dinner and dancing. 

Even if you’re not a cook, you can give it your best!  Bake a favorite frozen pizza or put a Stouffer’s lasagna and garlic bread in the oven.  Whatever you make, your significant other will LOVE a night off from cooking – without the restaurant wait.

Open a bottle of wine or make a mocktail and give it your best shot. Don’t stress - if your meal doesn't go as planned, it'll make for a good story!

Save Money on Flowers

There's no need to pay exorbitant prices for flower delivery when inexpensive fresh flowers are available in so many grocery stores. Many chains even have a florist working who can guide you to the best flower fit for your S.O.

If you still love the idea of a fresh flower delivery, take the bouquet to their house, drop it at their work, or have a friend or family member deliver it as a surprise.  Your person could get an extra gift – you as the delivery person!

Better yet, give a gift that can bloom more than once.  Potted orchids, African violets, or jasmine are great, low-maintenance options.  If flowers aren’t your thing, you can always put a red bow around an inexpensive indoor potted plant.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Nature

Even if it's cold where you live, the parks are still free – and fun! When was the last time you bundled up and hit the park like a kid?  Find some shelter, build a fire if it’s safe to, pack a picnic lunch, go for a hike – it's all free, and oh-so-romantic.  You could even go at night and see the stars.

There are plenty of cheap things to do outdoors.

Show You Care this Valentine’s Day

If your Valentine hates mowing the lawn, doing laundry, grocery shopping, or any other chore, consider doing it for them as an act of service. Most people would love a day to relax and unwind.  When their most dreaded daily tasks are taken care of by someone else, they can do that in peace, and that’s worth a LOT. Doing chores or running errands makes a great Valentine's gift!

Valentine’s Scavenger Hunt

Create a scavenger hunt leading your Valentine to a romantic dinner, flowers, or another treat.  You can make it simple or elaborate. 

Search online for Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt ideas if you’re not sure where to start. You could include everything from your city’s landmarks, the library, a park, or favorite shops and familiar small businesses near you.

The possibilities are endless.  For example, if you have a little to spend, you could include a stop at the local ice cream shop for a cone together and the next clue.  You can also make it a totally free adventure and stop at the library for a favorite book with the clue hidden inside.  You can get creative with the clues, using different memories from your relationship, basing clues on the letters of your sweetie’s name, or retracing the steps of a special day you had together.

A scavenger hunt does require some preparation and thinking, but it creates a great experience and a fabulous memory with no required expense.

Half the fun is creating the hunt, and the other half is watching your partner try to figure it out. Bonus points if your clues rhyme.

Date Night Can Be Dance Night

Find a deal online for a local dance studio and wow your date with your willingness to participate. You can even learn to dance and practice at home by watching YouTube videos.

If you don’t need lessons and just want to have fun, create your own dance party at home.  Clear a floor if you need to.  Make a playlist of your sweetie’s favorite music and songs you both love.  Add some fun lighting with a disco ball or candles, and dance together like nobody’s watching!

An added plus?  Dancing at home makes for an easy segue to dessert or other plans.

Workout Date Night

Do you and your date like working out?  Lots of couples are doing this now, and it can be a great way to connect.  Mix it up and try a class together or just enjoy your usual workout together. 

If you don’t already work out together, it’s ok.  You don't have to train for a half marathon!  Simply walking and talking together is a great way to connect and get those endorphins flowing. Depending on the weather, you could even ride your bikes to a new part of town for coffee or ice cream, walk dogs together at the SPCA, or find another way to get moving.

No matter what you decide to do, with a little forethought and love you can create a great Valentine’s Day on a budget.  If you’re looking for more ways to save money, our Finance Academy has you covered with articles about money and other financial topics.  It’s a great resource for Valentine’s Day or any day of the year.

Budget Valentine's Day FAQs

How to make Valentine's Day special on a budget?  Check out the above article for plenty of ideas, from cooking a romantic dinner at home to creating a handmade gift.

How much is reasonable to spend on Valentine's Day?  Only you can decide what’s reasonable to spend at Valentine’s Day, because each person’s financial situation is unique.  Consider what you have available in your budget for entertainment or eating out and go from there.

How can I make my Valentine Day special?  There are tons of ways, but it usually comes down to how to make your Valentine feel special.  Handmade gifts, gift cards for the chores, a special dinner at home – think about what your valentine likes and go from there.  Check out the above article for more information and ideas.

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