My daughter asked me how El Carino and I typically spend Valentine’s Day. As one who is not particularly romantic, it’s somewhat ironic that I’m writing about this topic. Yet, in spite of my underdeveloped sense of romanticism, we usually celebrate by going out to dinner and exchanging gifts, such as candy or a small memento; earrings or costume jewelry for me and sports memorabilia for El Carino.

As an expert on the cheap way to do just about everything, I do have some wonderful ideas for making this holiday really special while not catering to the pressure of excessive consumerism. After all, do you want Hallmark to tell you how to spend your money?

Know Your Partner

Think long and hard about what makes your honey happy? Create a celebration tailored just for them.

Is she/he the type who loves to stay in and cuddle? Order a gourmet meal in, rent a favorite movie, buy them their favorite indulgence, and trade massages. Tie in a traditional gift. They are popular for a reason; perfume, candy, flowers, jewelry, additions to a collection or hobby. Put in the time and thought and create a special memory.

Are you an adventurous couple? Plan an evening excursion. If you live in a cold climate, bundle up and go for a special walk. Live in the south or west? Visit a nature area for a romantic walk in a local park. Bring a picnic dinner and a bottle of wine.

Laser tag or video games your guilty pleasure? How about a valentine’s day session?

If your partner swoons for jewelry, flowers, and candy; get the best for less. Take a beautiful glass dish from the dollar store and fill it with an assortment of bagged candy from the supermarket; elegant and cheap. You don’t have to spring for roses, buy a more affordable variety of flower and put in a vase you already own. Personally, I love costume jewelry. Shower your honey with a new watch, necklace, or bracelet. Check out Kohl’s, Target, Macy’s, and JC Penney’s, you’re certain to snare a bargain.

Get Creative

Smart Marriages lists 50 Valentine’s Day Ideas for Less. Some of these clever ideas are adapted from the PDF.

Burn a CD with romantic love songs.

Make a quick movie “card” espousing your love. I think I’ll try this one and email it to El Carino at work! Update; just made one with “10 Ten Things I Love About You”.  Don’t worry about making it perfect, the more personal, the better.

Have kids? Bake valentines cookies together then send the kids to watch a movie while mom and dad have some couples’ time.

Don’t want to spring for an expensive restaurant meal? Go to a cozy spot after dinner for a special valentines day dessert.

If one spouse normally cooks, let the non-chef surprise their partner with a special meal.

Mighty Bargain Hunter eschews the traditional Valentine’s Day gifts with surprise gifts throughout the year. Why not celebrate Valentines Day this year on Saturday, February 18, when related gifts are 50% off or more?

For more ideas, stop by Invest it Wisely and read this super romantic article about 3 Frugal Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day.

What are your cheap valentine’s day ideas?

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  1. John | Married (with Debt)
    February 10, 2012 | 9:39 am

    Does doing nothing count? :)

    Thankfully my wife doesn’t expect much of anything, but I’ll do something nice (and free).

  2. Invest It Wisely
    February 10, 2012 | 10:19 am

    Thanks for including my article, Barb! :) Hope you have a great Valentine’s this year.

  3. krantcents
    February 10, 2012 | 11:08 am

    My wife and I like to spend the evening together away from the maddening crowds so I bring dinner in. I also get a relatively inexpensive bouquet of fresh flowers. We have a candlelight dinner with the fireplace going (depending on the weather). We exchange token gifts.

  4. 101 Centavos
    February 11, 2012 | 7:45 am

    This year is going to be a pricey one, with dinner planned at a very expensive restaurant. Still, even for special occasions, it’s infrequent that we do this. Last time we were there was 5 years ago. Other years we’ve opted for exchanging time vouchers, or a picnic. It all balances out.

  5. Matt
    February 11, 2012 | 9:17 am

    “Think long and hard about what makes your honey happy!?” I just couldn’t resist as to how that relates to my recent Valentine’s post. Sorry, my mind doesn’t venture far from the gutter at times.

  6. Melissa@PersonalFinanceJourney
    February 11, 2012 | 10:04 am

    I prefer to spend time at home on Valentine’s Day. My husband and I went out to eat one time on Valentine’s Day, and due to the three hour wait, we decided to never do it again. :) Thanks for some good tips.

  7. Barb
    February 11, 2012 | 5:50 pm

    @John, Sounds like you have a great wife!
    @Krantc-How romantic.
    @101 Centavos-There is nothing wrong with a splurge! Isn’t that what we work for?
    @ Matt-The gutter is a good place to go on Valentine’s day.
    @MElissa-There’s something to be said for being a home body :)

  8. Janna
    February 12, 2012 | 10:53 pm

    Thank you very much for the tips! I am sure this can help…Happy Valentine’s Day!

  9. Jai Catalano
    February 13, 2012 | 12:44 pm

    My wife and I have decided once we throw the kids in their beds and tape the door shut, crying or not, we are having a nice romantic living room picnic Jenny Craig dinner for 2 with a nice bottle of sparkling water with a sprits of lemon. :)

  10. Barb
    February 13, 2012 | 3:08 pm

    Jai, Sounds like a great plan!!! Enjoy!

  11. Khaleef @ KNS Financial
    February 13, 2012 | 9:41 pm

    I love the creative ideas…especially since I’m not creative at all.

    Last year I bought my wife a guitar, but had someone else play it. Then when she began to admire it and ask questions, he said, “it’s yours, your husband got it for you”. She began to cry…I don’t know how I can top that one.

  12. Andi @ MealPlanRescue
    February 13, 2012 | 11:41 pm

    We don’t do anything for Valentine’s day, but our anniversary is in a couple weeks. I got my husband a handmade wallet that I knew he really liked, and he got me a locally crafted hibiscus syrup that I adore. I spent under $10, him a bit more, but the gift we gave each other was an acknowledgement that we listen to each other, even hearing the small things that some may think go by the wayside.

  13. Lindset
    February 14, 2012 | 4:20 am

    Thanks for sharing all the tips in here..Love it a lot of people will like this..

  14. Shaun @ Money Cactus
    February 14, 2012 | 8:12 am

    I’m not a huge fan of Valentines Day personally, but I still like to let my wife know I love her, I got her some of her favourite chocolates, might do flowers at some other random time so it is a bit more personal / thoughtful ;)

  15. Mark D. Cook
    February 14, 2012 | 10:37 am

    Thanks for the post! I’ve been scrambling lately for a thoughtful V-Day idea.

  16. Kevon Cooper
    February 14, 2012 | 12:58 pm

    I had a great Valentine’s Day. Thanks to your post. This was such a helpful post. How did your Valentine’s Day go?

    Thanks for sharing.


  17. Barb
    February 14, 2012 | 3:06 pm

    @ Khaleef- That one is really hard to beat!! I guess you knew she wanted one.
    @Andi-Perfect. It’s so nice to get something you really want.
    @Shaun-The commercialism gets me. Why should Hallmark tell us what to do?
    @Mark & Kevin-Glad you got some good ideas! Mine has been great!

  18. Guia
    February 17, 2012 | 4:02 pm

    My valentine’s Day celebration with my family is great! We go out for the dinner and watch movie.. Happy hearts day everyone!

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