Special occasions like Valentine’s Day can be great opportunities to show the people we love how much we care about them. Spoiling your boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife with the perfect gift or night out can be fun and rewarding, but it can also be expensive. At the same time, spending a “special night out” ordering off the value menu at McDonald’s doesn’t exactly sound like most people’s idea of romance. If you’re willing to put in some creativity and effort, however, you can find the perfect middle ground between romantic and affordable. Here are 25 ways to show someone you love them without looking like a cheapskate.
Dine Out at Home
Even if you cook at home regularly, you can elevate a home-cooked meal to Valentine’s Day status by using special ingredients, making a special dish, or creating a special atmosphere.
Dine Out for Less
Pulling out a coupon on the first date isn’t exactly a romantic move, but once you’ve been together for a while, using coupons for dates can be more appropriate, especially if you’re using coupons for a restaurant that’s normally out of your price range.
“Pulling out a coupon on the first date isn’t exactly a romantic move, but once you’ve been together for a while, using coupons for dates can be more appropriate.”
Class Up Some Take-out
If you want to dine in but cooking isn’t your thing, look for a fancy pre-made meal you can take home with you. Find the best grocery store in town and buy the fanciest pre-made meal for two you can find. The food may be just as good as what you’ll find in a classy restaurant, and you’ll pay a whole lot less.
Save Money on Drinks
If you’re set on a romantic meal at a restaurant, save on the bill by skipping the wine and ordering a glass of water with lemon instead. You’d be surprised how much you can save on eating out just by avoiding alcohol.
Skip the Main Course
If you’d like to enjoy a nice drink on Valentine’s Day, save money by eating dinner at home and heading out to a fancy restaurant afterwards for drinks and dessert.
Go for Breakfast, Brunch or Lunch
You can also save on dining out by going out for breakfast, brunch, or lunch instead of going out for dinner.
Shop the Sales
Looking for the perfect gift? Your valentine doesn’t have to know where their gift came from. Just because you got it for 50% off, that doesn’t make it any less meaningful.
While there’s not much romance in buying someone a used gift, there’s plenty of romance to be found in antique shops. Antique jewelry can be much less expensive than new jewelry, and it can be more meaningful as well since antiques have a sense of history to them.
“You can make great homemade presents by turning memories into keepsakes.”
Give a Memory
You can make great homemade presents by turning memories into keepsakes. Frame a special photo or make a homemade memory box full of reminders of the good times you’ve had together.
Make a Date Idea Book
Instead of memories, you could also give the gift of inspiration. Write down a dozen creative date ideas on little cards or vouchers and give them to your loved one to use next time they want to spend some special time alone with you.
Go to a Local Theatre
Heading to a major movie theatre can be a big budget trip these days. So instead of paying $22 for popcorn and a small pop, look for showings at some of the smaller theatres in your neighbourhood. Edmonton theatres like the Princess and the Garneau offer lower admission prices than the big chain movie theatres, and provide a more interesting atmosphere as well.
Skip the Movie Rental
As most Netflix users know, a night of movie watching on Netflix can easily turn into a night of scrolling through suggested titles for an hour and then falling asleep while re-watching an old episode of your favourite TV show. Don’t exactly sound romantic, does it? Instead, why not browse the movie section at your local library? Many library branches will carry classic films like Casablanca or The Philadelphia Story. Doesn’t watching one of those movies sound more romantic than playing another round of the “what should we watch on Netflix” game?
Mail a Love Letter
How many times do you receive letters in the mail, let alone love letters? Just imagine the look of surprise on the face of your loved one as they open their mailbox and find a handwritten love letter addressed to them.
Pass a Note
Mail isn’t the only way to share a letter. Mix things up by slipping a love note into your wife / girlfriend’s purse or your husband / boyfriend’s wallet.
“Many dance companies offer free or discounted lessons for first-timers.”
Take a Dance Lesson
Many dance companies offer free or discounted lessons for first-timers, so if you’ve never taken a dance class before, you can save money and treat your loved one to an exciting new experience.
Give by Doing
Sometimes simple acts of kindness make the best gifts. Surprise your loved one by cleaning the house from top to bottom while they’re away, doing some of their most hated chores, or doing some of the household work they’ve been asking you to do for a long time.
Order Flowers Early
If you’re planning on buying flowers, you can save money by ordering an arrangement ahead of time, as many outlets mark up their bouquets during Valentine’s season.
Buy a Plant Instead of Flowers
Who says a potted plant can’t be romantic? Potted plants last longer than bouquets of cut flowers, and a flowering potted plant can serve as an annual reminder of your love and commitment.
Make an Edible Arrangement
Looking for a twist on the classic bouquet of red roses? Try your hand at making a bouquet of strawberry roses instead. Edible arrangements are becoming popular gifts instead of flowers, and you can save money (and impress your valentine) by making your own.
February is a great time for romantic winter activities. Skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or just going for a walk in the snow can serve as the perfect date for a cold, wintery afternoon.
Explore the Great Indoors
Prefer to stay indoors? Explore some local museums and galleries, or spend the afternoon lingering in your favourite coffee shop.
Read to Each Other
When was the last time someone read to you? Create a romantic experience by reading love poems to each other, reading passages from your favourite books, or simply reading fun stories to each other.
Write to Each Other
For bonus marks, how about reading something you wrote yourself? Even if you’re not the best wordsmith, writing a poem, song, or story can be a meaningful and memorable way to show your love.
“For some couples, the best gift you can give each other is the gift of time.”
Give the Gift of Time
For some couples, the best gift you can give each other is the gift of time. And since Valentine’s Day falls on Sunday this year, you could literally spend the whole day together.
Move the Date
This might be off the table for Valentine’s Day purists, but for couples who are less attached to the date of February 14th, you can save money on gifts and experiences simply by celebrating on a different date, since many restaurants and vendors mark up their prices around the 14th.
Doing Valentine’s Day on a budget doesn’t mean missing out on the best experiences. In fact, by keeping your budget in mind, you’ll be forced to explore more creative options for gifts and date ideas. Wouldn’t you rather have a unique and memorable experience rather than spending money on a predictable gift anyway?
Looking for more budgeting tips? We’ve got tips on everything from how to create a recession-proof budget, how to plan an affordable wedding, and how to find affordable music lessons. You can also speak with one of our Financial Planners for personalized advice on how to budget smart, invest wisely, and achieve the financial future you want.