The cynical among us may dismiss February 14 as just a “Hallmark holiday,” but it does give us an opportunity to proclaim undying love for a significant other, so we probably shouldn’t waste it. That doesn’t mean we have to follow the crowd. Flowers, a store-bought card, chocolate or jewelry (or both), and a dinner out on February 14 – which is a weeknight, by the way – can put a strain on the budget that leads to decidedly unromantic stress on the relationship.
So if you’re a non-conformist or if circumstances dictate frugality on even this special occasion, do Valentine’s Day on the cheap. Need some ideas? Here are a few. (If none of them fit exactly right, let them inspire you to think of your own thoughtful gestures.)
Pack some road-trip snacks, grab your camera, and drive to Grace Hill Winery for a free wine-tasting and tour with someone you love. While you’re there, you can pick up a bottle for anywhere from $12 to $24 to remember the occasion.
Sheri McGregor suggests 6 free ways to say ‘I love you’ on Valentine’s Day – including fogging up the car windows – over at Living on the Cheap.
If you have musical talent, serenade your belle or beau with a song written for the occasion. If you don’t, send a singing Valentine. The Emerald City Chorus will send a quartet to your home, place of employment, or even to a crowded restaurant to sing a beautiful four-part a cappella harmony. The cost of a singing Valentine is $40, and you can pay via PayPal.
Another, even more affordable way to share your sentiment in music hearkens back to high school: make a mix. You might be able to do it entirely with music you already own, but if not there’s always Amazon. Everything from Beyonce to Bing Crosby is available, and it’s all inexpensive. A search for love songs in the Amazon MP3 store brings up some great songs.
If you decide to give gifts, choose quality over quantity. A cellophaned, family-sized bag of chocolate from the grocery store isn’t going to feel as romantic as a small gift box of artisan chocolates from Cocoa Dolce ($12). But you might also score brownie points for your sense of humor. Get a gift-box of Bridge Mix from the Nifty Nut House ($12) and write “I’m nuts about you, Valentine” on the card.
Are you going to propose on Valentine’s Day? Consider a vintage ring, which will often give you higher quality and better workmanship at about 1/3 the cost of retail. Susan Caba offers some perspective and buying advice in the article Save money with a vintage diamond engagement ring.
Another way to affordably mark the occasion is to have lunch at a nice cafe instead dinner at a fancy restaurant. Or maybe find out where The Flying Stove or Cake Face food trucks will be parked and give one of them a try. (Cake Face, in particular, has some Valentine’s Day-themed treats you can order in advance.)
Do you have other suggestions for budget-friendly Valentine’s Day celebrations? I’m sure that if we put some thought and effort into it, we’ll come up with some great ideas.