Fact: Americans spent over 17 billion dollars on Valentine’s Day in 2014. That comes out to approximately $133 per person, just to show their love to someone who probably already knows they care about them. Also a fact: we could all use some cheap Valentines Day ideas to keep our wallets in control. Whether you consider the day to be silly, a waste of time, a made-up holiday designed to make single people feel crappy, or a day filled with love and joy, one thing is for sure, it’s a real money-maker for retailers everywhere.
The good news is that you won’t be the only one sucked into buying an over-priced bouquet of roses. The other good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot to say I love you. There are ways to show your affection that don’t require a penny, or maybe just a few as opposed to your entire weekly paycheck. The trick is to think outside the box (of chocolates), to get creative and to get personal. Cheap gifts don’t have to look, well…cheap.
First, let’s talk food. Sure, you could go to an expensive dinner (think white table clothes, jacket-and-tie attire, overpriced crab salad) but dining out on Valentine’s Day seems a bit impersonal and you’ll rack up a major tab at the end of the meal. Call us crazy, but we don’t like over-paying for a meal just because of the date we are dining out. Instead, think of your partner’s favorite foods and make a home-cooked meal that will make you both feel special and satisfied. It’s cheaper, it’s healthier and it can be fun if you pop open a bottle of something tasty while you work. Think of your favorite dishes or foods that remind you of a past vacation or special occasion and try to make your own version at home. You can even print out custom menus with the reason you picked each dish so your love has something to keep when you’re done devouring your meal.
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Another way to celebrate past memories with a modern twist is a video collage putting together all your favorite photos and video clips. It’s never been easier thanks to user-friendly apps like Vine and Stop Motion Studio and computer programs like iMovie. With a little bit of effort and time it’s incredibly simple and fun to make an impressive and sentimental home movie.
Staying with the photo/memory direction, you can also make a beautifully crafted photo book for your love, and are excellent as cheap Valentines Day ideas. Nothing says I love you (and I see a future with you) quite like celebrating your past and commemorating those moments in a leather-bound book. Seriously, it’s a big step in any relationship. Photo books are fun to make, fun to open and beautiful to save forever. And they don’t have to cost at on either. Great companies are making them easy and affordable, just be sure you budget enough time so you don’t get sucked into rush shipping fees.
If you and your other half are into fitness then there are tons of ways to show you care and to spend time together without spending big bucks. You can plan a fun hike and picnic together, or sign up for a fun fitness class like cycling, boot camp or even a dance class (just be sure it is something you will both like). Or if you want to take it to the next level, sign up for a future race like a 5K or even a half marathon if you’re looking for something more intense. Not only will the race day be an experience to remember, but you’ll also spend a lot of QT together while you train. Who said a Valentine’s Day celebration had to be a one-time deal…this is the gift of togetherness and health that keeps on giving.
Perhaps fitness isn’t your thing, but music is. If you and your man love live music then look into local concerts, open mic nights or music festivals that you can enjoy together. Or go old school and make your love a playlist of your (and their) favorite tunes. Yes, we’re aware it is not the 90s and people don’t use cassettes or make mix tapes anymore. But who says you can’t make a personalized playlist and sneak it onto his iPhone, or post it on Spotify and send it to him to listen to?
Lastly, if you’re the type who prefers to buy a thing (or your man is someone who likes to receive stuff) then there are options in the really cheap gifts category as well. Forget fancy clothes or gadgets—you can give anything from a great book to a magazine subscription to a set of colorful socks; to cozy PJs, a bottle of wine and beyond. Think about something that will make him smile, something you will enjoy watching him open and something that will show just how much you care. And don’t forget to say I love you and seal the deal with a hug and kiss.