10 Tips for a Budget-smart Valentine’s Day


valentines_1.jpgValentine’s Day as I am sure you remember is this coming this Sunday. There are plenty of traditional gifts you can find just about anywhere. Chocolates, flowers, a romantic dinner, perfume or wine can get pretty expensive, especially since most everyone buys the same things. The average person will spend $147 this year on gifts and a date. If you’re looking to keep to a budget, here are some alternative ideas that won’t break the bank.

1. Be Sentimental
In place of flowers and a card, which can push upwards of $90, make something sentimental that will last more than a few days. Photos, photo collages, memorable moments from the last year in a frame, handwritten or handmade notes, letters or scrapbook pages will at least elicit some good memories and allow you to say what you want rather than having a ready-made card greeting. If you have the time, upload your photos and get a little creative at Shutterfly, Artifact Uprising, Chatbooks or Smilebox. If you are in a time crunch and can’t spend the extra on shipping pull out the glue and scissors.

2. Eat In
In place of getting a hard-to-get reservation or waiting for a seat at a restaurant with everyone else, use that time before Valentine’s Day to find recipes that you can make and that special someone will enjoy. If you’re not the cooking type but your partner is, find the cookbook they’ve been eyeing, plus you get to enjoy the food over the next few months.

3. Dining Out
If the restaurant still sounds like the best idea, find another night that isn’t Valentine’s Day, so it’s less crowded and an easier and hopefully happier experience. OpenTable or other reservation services make finding that special spot at the right time simple and easy.

4. Bake At Home
In place of chocolates, home-baked goods wrapped and packaged personally can show how much you care. You don’t have to be a chocolatier to make something delicious that contains the right amount of chocolate. Check your favorite recipe resource or browse Pinterest until something makes you hungry. 

5. Share the Experience
In place of a bottle of wine, find tickets to a wine tasting event or a cocktail night in your area or explore what local wineries and breweries offer when it comes to tastings or food offerings. That way the two of you can enjoy your drink(s) of choice together with a little added ambiance.

Aside from the customary gifts, there are other options to think about:

6. Watch Netflix
If you don’t spend most nights on the couch together watching movies already, make it even more special by finding just the right movie. Project it on the wall or ceiling, make a childhood fort to watch it in. Pick a movie or binge a show. If you’re looking for help here are some romantic comedies, other romantic movies, good movies and tv shows streaming now. 

7. Ice Rink Escapade
Outdoors or in, admission and rentals keep things under $30 and hopefully it will be more hand holding and conversation than helping up and consolation. Substitute sledding or a snowball fight if the mood strikes you and the snow is available. Warm up with hot chocolate, coffee or any other ideas you might have.

8. Karaoke
What works better than singing love songs to each other? Doing so in front of plenty of other people and with a prompter. You might need something to lower the embarassment factor, but dinner and some drinks might be the only expense before the serenades begin. Get in some practice after taking your pick from the top 100 love songs of all time.

9. Fondue
Do the 1970s hold any nostalgia for you at all? Then find a fondue set and get some cheese or chocolate to melt and your dipping food of choice. Feeding each other might make things more romantic, just make sure the dipped food isn’t boiling lava hot when it makes it to their lips. Cheaper fondue sets start below $30 and finding a cheese or chocolate to use is easy. You can have a whole fondue meal from appetizer to dessert. You may want to look into comfy chairs or sitting on the floor, though. 

10. Recreating an Experience
Can’t make it to that tropical beach or camping spot then you can decorate to make it seem like you’re there. Star gaze from the couch, listen to waves lap up on the shore or birds chirping in the distance. Have a home spa night or indoor picnic. Follow along with a how-to video on Youtube instead of going to a class.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day and remember you can stick to your budget and have a memorable holiday. 


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