Frugal Valentine's Day Tips
Valentine’s Day can be an expensive little holiday. Bear in mind that money worries can be a ruthless relationship killer, perhaps the worst Valentine’s Day gift you could give is anything that leaves you struggling with more debt and debt-related stress.
These tips can help you come up with an approach to this year’s celebration that is both meaningful and economical.
Dinner and More:
~Make an elegant homecooked meal instead of painting the town red. Put in the time and make a great meal at home. Put your good tablecloth and napkins, use some candles, and make it a romantic evening at home instead of fighting the Valentine’s Day crowds out.
~Look for free concerts. Many cities and communities have free Valentine’s Day concerts by city and municipal groups that don’t get widely publicized. Take a look at your community/city calendar and see what’s out there to do for free on that day.
~Save on Dinner, Splurge on Dessert - The average dinner for two runs between $85 - $250 on Valentine's Day. But you don't need to shatter your food budget in one night just to have a romantic restaurant experience. Rather than an expensive meal, try skipping straight to dessert. Not sure what to order? Chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac. If hot cocoa isn't on the menu tonight, try the hot chocolate fondue? For two, of course!
~Spa Night: What can be more romantic than a spa night shared by the two of you. Put on your favorite CD, light candles all around the room and give each other body massages with scented oils and lotions. Follow your massage with a relaxing bubble bath, and toast your lover with sparkling water or champagne served in fluted glasses.
~Take a Hike (& pack a picnic) - There's nothing like a little fresh air to get you feeling fresh & frisky. Check out your local trails or find one of America's 390-some national parks. The weather is not always suitable in February, but many states are already enjoying springtime breezes come mid February. Even if you have to bundle up for your hike, you will have plenty of fun warming yourselves by the fire (or in a blanket) when you return. If you want tomake it more romantic, pack a picnic basket (or a backpack, for you off-trail hikers) filled with all of your favorite romantic foods. Go simple with chocolate, strawberries and champagne.
~Champagne Brunch - If you feel as if you can't go to your favorite restaurant this year because it's simply too expensive, choose a less costly brunch instead. Brunch is a romantic alternative to a heavy dinner. Make a reservation at your favorite restaurant content in the knowledge that having brunch there won't break the bank. Be sure to toast with champagne!
~Romantic Movie Night: Spread out big blankets on your floor, pop some popcorn (one of my hubbys favs), light a fire (or put it on the computer screen-lol), and snuggle up together with a romantic movie on DVD. Here are some all time favorite romantic movies: A Walk in the Clouds, Message in a Bottle, Pretty Woman, The English Patient, Gone with the Wind, Somewhere in Time, The Lake House, and Dr. Zhivago.
~A really hot photo of yourself. Put it in a nice frame and pair it with the steamiest, sexiest letter you've ever written. Of course, if you want to go for something more conservative, present one he can put on his desk at work. Still include the letter, though.
~A sexy voice mail - Leave it in the morning when your bedroom voice is the strongest. Rock his socks off with some seriously sexy love talk. He'll hear it when he gets to work and be crazy all day with anticipation to get home to you.
~Special Time Box: Cover a shoebox with colorful wrapping paper, and fill it with memories from a special time the two of you shared. This could be your wedding, a memorable vacation, the birth of a child, or any other special time the two of you shared. Set the mood with soft background music and go through the box together, reliving the special times together once again.
~Create homemade cards and gifts for a truly frugal Valentines Day. These gifts will be more special and meaningful than running into a store and buying the first thing you see.
~Send Ecards for a frugal Valentines Day way of showing you are thinking of your friends and family without having to spend a dime. You can now find very nice e-cards, even one's that are animated and can be personalized.
~Say I Love You in a 365 Different Ways - Any day can -- and should -- be inspired by love and courtship. Help spread the magic around by making your Valentine a love jar. Fill it with 365 slips of paper that share another reason you love your partner. Or, if putting pen to paper is not your thing, count out 365 candy hearts or Hershey kisses -- one for each day that your sweetheart makes your life sweeter!
~Court the Element of Surprise - Instead of going with an overplayed -- and over-priced -- gift option, try to court the element of surprise. Sweet, heartfelt and frugal surprises. Like filling his/her office with red and white balloons (the kind you blow up and tie yourself -- not the helium-filled ones). Or packing a picnic lunch with all his favorite snack foods. Or scoring two tickets to that Indy rock concert he has been dying to see. If surprises aren't your strong point, try paying closer attention to the little things. Believe it or not, your sweetie drops lots of little clues all day long about how and when he or she would like to be surprised. In fact, picking up on those clues will probably be the biggest -- and sweetest -- surprise of all.
~The Famous Coupon Book: They are very easy to make, and your sweetie will really appreciate your thoughtfulness and creativity. Whether you are giving coupons for future back rubs, a romantic dinner, or breakfast in bed, your love is sure to appreciate this gift that keeps on giving.
~Express yourself with a Poem. If there is an Elizabeth Barrett Browning hiding inside you, write a love poem. A love poem is a lasting gift that will reveal your feelings in a beautiful verse.
~A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: You do not need to hire a professional photographer to give a professional looking picture of yourself. Digital cameras take wonderful pictures, and many people own one. If you don’t own a digital camera, you probably know someone who does. Have a friend come over to your house to take candid shots of you. Have your best pictures printed at a discount store or pharmacy, and display the pictures in an inexpensive frame or scrapbook.
~Flowers are pricey via delivery companies. Many grocery stores, even discount ones such as Aldi, offer great bouquets and stock up before the big day. Call ahead to reserve a bouquet to be sure. Deliver them yourself. If you really want to wow the coworkers, arrive at your beloved's workplace in formalwear to drop off the posies.
~Burn a CD of "your" songs or buy the DVD of a much-loved movie you both shared (check eBay and Amazon online) and enjoy them together.
~If you aren't super creative with construction paper and glitter....Cards are much less expensive at dollar stores. Sometimes blank notes from any store are cheaper than ones with verses and they permit you to express yourself, too.
~Buy a couple of very special--but inexpensive--treats. (For instance, a local candy store in my town sells heavenly trurtle that are just exquisite. They're small, and they sell for 35 cents apiece!) Arrange them on an elegant plate, add one long-stemmed rose, and bringing it in as breakfast in bed.
~Make an “I Love You” video and post it on YouTube. It's easier than you think and you will score major points.
~Enhance by preserving the memories of love. Scan old pictures, letters and other memories into a computer. Then arrange them onto a CD. There are many software programs available to make a slide show, add music and even make a presentation.
~Lover's Scavenger Hunt - Make a game out of finding small and large gifts, Turn it into a scavenger hunt. They'll enjoy the hunt, but you'll also love the creaivity and the fun of it as well. Place about ten different items through out the house. Have one found gift be a clue for the next one. You can start off with a something simple, say a Hershey's Kiss with a note as to where the next gift will be. You can build up to something really grand or just be creative. Most folks find written clues the easiest, but there are alternatives. Take digital photos of the location, but don't make it obvious. Blur the picture, take form an odd angle. Part of the fun will be for them to figure out where to go to next. If you're feeling particularly adventurous and plan far enough in advance, place clues at locations outside the house - book stores, video stores, nurseries, where ever is a known location. . Of course, you'll need the cooperation of the merchant, but I don't think that is a real issue. Most folks are romantics at heart.
~~Some Scavenger Hunt Gift Ideas:
Indoor movie/date night
Bowling for lovers
Coupon for a back rub
Get Out of Jail card (a frugal Yankee fave!)
Snowshoeing adventure with a hot cocoa reward at the end.
Canoeing down the river (not to be done in winter)
Gift certificate to a favorite store.
A big wet one (kiss)
Challenge them to a 'tickle' fight
~This one requires some work, but your sweetie will love it. Go to a Chinese restaurant and buy about 15 fortune cookies (many grocery stores now carry them too). With a tweezers, remove the fortune and replace with your own. For example, "You Will Live Happily Ever After with (insert your name)." The reason for fifteen cookies, you’ll break some in the process.
~Mail a love letter to your hubby's work.
~Leave "Why I love you" messages all over the house. Buy a package of the cheap Valentines (dollar store). Write a message on each one and hide them all over the house for your sweetheart. They will get to enjoy the gift for months!
~Use lipstick to make hearts and love notes on the rear view mirror, car windows, bathroom mirror or other windows and mirrors of the house. Leave a kiss on his napkin for lunch or dinner.
For the Kids:
~Make a great, but inexpensive Valentine's Day treat for the kids. Take construction paper and cut a big heart out of it (about 8x10 inches). Then staple or glue the edges together and write your kids names and an I love you on the outside. Fill the heart with candy, purchased on clearance after Christmas. It is very inexpensive and tje kids will love it!
~Have a Valentine's treasure hunt. Leave little notes around with the last one leading back to the kitchen table with a heart full of candy. See above for ideas you can adapt for your kids too.
~Make heart shaped Valentine's cookies (the dollar store has yummy sugar cookie mix - just check the date), cut the kids (or hubby's) sandwiches with a heart shaped cookie cutter. Send alone some Valentine's chocolates and add a note in red with a big heart on their napkin.
~Serve anything red for the day. Serve red jello, red pudding, red lollipops, red apples, red grapes, cranberry juice or sauce, raspberries, toast with strawberry jelly, strawberry sauce, strawberry ice cream, bagels with red tomato sauce, tomato soup, stuffed red peppers for dinner (if your kids like veggies), pomegranate or red grape juice, red applesauce, red Kool-aid, strawberry milk, or red frosted cookies. Leave sticks of red gum in their Valentine's Day cards.
~Make red heart shaped cupcakes. Make cupcakes as you normally would but place a marble between the muffin tin and each cupcake cup. This will make a heart shaped cupcake.
The most important thing to remember, no matter what you decide to do, make it from the heart. Show the person in your life how much you care. It is never the size of the present, but how much love is behind it.
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