The biggest budget item in February is undoubtedly Valentine’s Day. How much should you spend on a gift for your sweetheart? Do you need to spend more than $100 at dinner? Many of us tend to go overboard, causing financial stress on a day that is supposed to be whimsical and fun. But you don’t have to break your budget or your lover’s heart. Take your time, use your imagination and consider a gift that’s more personal than one straight from your wallet. Here are some suggestions for how to inexpensively celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Create Your Own Card
Cards are pretty expensive, especially on Valentine’s Day. It can also be difficult to find the perfect one. Don’t be afraid to make your own. One suggestion is to take the best photo of you and your significant other, and use it as the front of a black card. card. Inside, you can write about how much the moment captured in the photo means to you. Another idea is to cut out phrases or words from Valentine’s-inspired stories in magazines and attach them to a black card. Homemade cards like these are much more meaningful and personal than a store-bought card.
Make a Fancy Dinner
Instead of taking out your valentine for an expensive dinner, try making a meal from the heart. You’ll show more affection and it will cost a lot less. Make your sweetheart’s favorite foods (with dessert, of course) and serve by candlelight. Don’t forget the wine. You can pick up a bottle for $10 or less at grocery stores like Trader Joe’s. If you aren’t good at cooking, put together a platter of cheeses and charcuterie with bread, olive oil and fruit. Don’t underestimate the intimacy of your own home to inexpensively celebrate Valentine’s Day. A private meal with your loved one in a warm surrounding is a lot more romantic than dining out at a crowded restaurant.
Mark the Occasion Early
You don’t have to celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14. Why not mark the occasion a week early? If you’re thinking of getting flowers, they will be a lot cheaper earlier in the month and you’ll have a better selection to choose from. Celebrating early can also make for a great surprise. Your sweetheart won’t expect an early celebration.
Make Something by Hand
Making something for your love by hand is much more meaningful than a store-bought box of chocolates. And you don’t have to be the most creative person on earth to make your gift special. Print out photos and create a photo album, collage or scrapbook. You can go even fancier and make a memory box. Find a wooden box and put in items that remind you of experiences you’ve shared or remembrances of places you’ve visited together — a ticket stub from a concert you attended together, a menu from your favorite restaurant, etc.
Buy Estate Jewelry
Jewelry is one of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts. During the holiday many stores mark up their prices in anticipation of the increase in customer activity. But you don’t have to buy something at a fancy place in the mall. Estate jewelry, which is the industry’s term for used jewelry, can be found in antique stores. Much of what you’ll find is unique. Go for style over authentic gems when perusing secondhand shops.
Make a Custom Playlist
Burning a Valentine’s Day CD is a classic, heartfelt gift. Create an album of songs that make you think about your loved one, especially songs you love together. Go the extra mile and create a custom cover for it by finding a romantic image or creating one yourself from photos. You can go old school and actually burn a CD or create a digital playlist and artwork, and upload them to a flash drive to give as a gift. There are a variety of flash drives out there that feature cool patterns or fictional characters. Get one that your significant other will enjoy.
Enjoy Inexpensive Entertainment
You don’t have to go out to see a Broadway musical or a big concert and spend hundreds of dollars, not when there are so many fun spots to go that cost less or are free. Places like museums, art galleries, cultural centers, improv clubs, small theater companies and coffee houses are great options. You don’t even have to go out if you don’t want to. Save money by staying in and watching cheesy, romantic movies on Netflix.
Have you discussed finances with your significant other? Read “Easy Financial Tips for Couples” to learn how to start the conversation.