Undoubtedly, the only thing worse than having a “cheap date” is being called one. But in the current economic atmosphere when one should be more concerned with prudence in spending habits, a frugal date, in my mind, is something to be lauded rather than repudiated.
After all, dating is all about finding the person you will share your life and finances with till something beginning with the letter “d” do you part. So this year, and perhaps for a few to come, remember this and cut yourself and/or your significant other a little slack and remember that there are more important things in life than extravagant dinners and presents.
Here we will offer some Valentine’s Day Gift and Date ideas that won’t cost a fortune and hopefully make this Valentine’s Day special and fun. I’ve divided this post into several sections with subsections such as “Gifts under $10,” etc. within each section.
Table of Contents
Click to go to each section, click your browser “back” button to return here.
- Valentine’s Day Budgeting Suggestions
- Date Ideas
- Romantic Foods and Treats
- Gift Ideas
- Gift + Date Ideas
- Valentine’s Date Movies
The artwork contained in this post is by Madoline and more can be seen and purchased on a variety of products from our CafePress store.
Valentine’s Day Budgeting Suggestions
Before we begin, a few suggestions on the finances of Valentine’s Day.
- Discuss a gift budget beforehand whether or not you are married or share finances.
- Set a spending range that is comfortable for both parties and stick to it. (If one person gives an expensive gift but the other a more economical one, awkwardness may ensue.)
- Consider combining your individual budgets if they are low. This way you might be able to afford something pricier that you can both enjoy.
- Consider a “useful” gift. Something more practical rather than romantic that can make your life together more pleasant (long term benefits vs. short term).
- Consider making both your gifts by hand and from scratch.
- Discuss your date budget and activities that you will both enjoy without spending too much.
It may seem unromantic to talk about the date or gift ahead of time, but lack of communication in financial matters (i.e. spending) is one of the main causes for marital strife, so it might be better for your relationship in the long run if you share in such decisions.
- Let her sleep in. Make the kids breakfast and keep them occupied with cartoons or other activities.
- Breakfast in bed. As this year Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday.
- Help out around the house or yard. Is there something she’s been asking you to do for a while?
- Take the kids out for the morning or afternoon to give her some quiet time to relax and get ready for your date in the evening.
- Let him watch football (or whatever sport is on in February). Bring him popcorn, chips, beer or whatever he likes. If you need to speak to him (even about the game), wait until commercial break.
- Go with him to do his favorite sport or activity. Is there something he often asks you to do with him that you always say “no” to? Go with him, let him show off for you and compliment him on his prowess.
for Each Other
- Ask a friend or relative to take the kids for the day and just relax and enjoy each other’s company at home.
- A massage. Lower back for someone who does a lot of physical work (e.g. housework), neck and shoulders if he/she works at a desk or computer.
- Tour of your romantic spots. Plan a route including some or all of the local places where significant points of your relationship took place. Pack a picnic to enjoy at one of your spots. Suggestions of places: where you met, where you had your first date, where you first kissed, where you proposed/were proposed to, your first home together, etc.
- Assemble a scrap book of your relationship. This can be an annual activity done on each Valentine’s Day chronicling your life together in the past year. Save and assemble memorable items such as: pictures; notes you’ve written each other; ticket stubs from movies, shows and sporting events you attended together; receipts from romantic dates; and if married or planning marriage: engagement announcement, bridal shower invitation, wedding invitation, baby showers, etc.
- Read a favorite childhood book together. Find a book that you both loved as kids, check it out from the library or buy it used and take turns reading it aloud.
- Plan your future. This might be a dreaded subject for the commitment-phobic, but if this is a serious and committed relationship, Valentine’s Day is a good time to plan your future life together. Take a scenic tour of neighborhoods and homes that you want to live in, think about the kind of home you want to own (if you don’t own one already) and start thinking about how you are gong to get there.
- Do anything together. Paint a room in the house, work in the garden, play games, watch a movie, or just anything you both enjoy.
Romantic Foods and Treats
- Pink and red food such as pink butter, cheese, milk, cereal, cake, salad dressing, pudding, rice, sauces. Naturally red and pink foods are beets, cranberry/mayo, frosting, jello, strawberries, jam, and various ice cream.
- Heart-shaped food and treats. With heart-shaped cookie cutters and bakeware, you can make heart-shaped cookies, brownies, cakes, sandwiches, fruit, eggs, toast, pasta (lasagne) or whatever your heart desires.To make heart shaped eggs or pancakes:
- Grease the inside of a metal cookie cutter
- place on oiled heated pan
- Firmly hold down while pouring a layer of egg or batter inside of cookie cutter (careful not to burn your hands)
- Lift cutter when shape is firm and flip pancake/eggs
- Give a heart shaped chocolate cake instead of a box of candies. Cake mix can be had for $1 or less on sale. Write your message in frosting on top and save the expense of a card.
Interesting Fact: The Chinese customarily give gold jewelry as a sign of caring, because the recipient may sell it for money in times of need.
Some suggestions for frugal but nice gifts. If you are giving a small gift, check out Madoline’s Eggshell Gift Wrap post from December; this is a unique way to wrap a small gift (such as jewelry) in a way your recipient will never forget.
Price breakdown for specific product suggestions doesn’t include shipping as rates may vary and some items might be purchased locally.
Gifts Under $10
- The language of flowers. If you live in a area where wild flowers are available, pick your own bouquet of flowers for your date. Refer to the language of flowers for meanings for various kinds of flora, known as floriography.
- Plant a rosebush or her favorite flowers in the yard. Plant seeds or transplant a potted plant and mark the spot with a romantic sign.
- Hand-knitted or crocheted scarf, hat and/or mittens in his/her favorite color(s). Yarn in fairly inexpensive and the paper wrapped around the skeins often come with instructions for making something.
- A Digital Photo Keychain filled with pictures of the two of you that he/she can carry around and look at at any time.
- Print his/her favorite poem in the center of a sheet of paper. Frame and matting will make it an elegant art piece and a nice, thoughtful gesture.
- A paperback book with your greeting written inside the cover instead of spending money on greeting cards which might get thrown away.
- For a nature lover, assemble and paint a bird house in his/her favorite color(s) – Bird House Kit.
Gifts Under $20
- A 365 page-a-day calendar and write in personal notes on the anniversaries of all your special dates – date you met, first date, first kiss, when you started “going steady,” when you first said the “L” word, birthday and other holiday wishes, etc. And if you’re really good at this, one note a day for every day of the year.
- A customized mug with your valentine message or a photo of the two of you printed on it (and date and year if desired).
- A personalized chair or piece of furniture. Go to thrift stores in your area and look for nice pieces of wood furniture. A good solid wooden chair or other small piece of furniture such as a small shelf can often be found for $5 or $10. Sand off the finish and paint it in your significant other’s favorite color. Don’t be afraid to be creative and use colors out of the norm. You will need: a pack of sandpaper, a paintbrush and some enamel paint, or a can of spray paint. All can be found for reasonable prices at Walmart and sand paper and brushes can be found at some dollar stores.
Gifts Under $30
- A nice set of feather pillows so he/she thinks of you before falling asleep each night.
- A set of fluffy new towels.
- For her: pastel colored hand weights to help her meet her fitness goals.
Gift + Date Ideas
As Valentine’s Day this year is on a Saturday, you might be able to spend the day together instead of just the evening. Here are some suggestions for activities for your Valentine’s date are also gifts.
- Make heart-shaped chocolate candy together – Chocolate Heart Making Kit.
- Make aromatic candles that can provide ambiance for a romantic dinner and evening in – Candle Making Kit.
- Personalize His & Hers chairs together. (Date version of the personalized chair idea above.) Go to thrift stores together, pick out and paint chairs for each other.
- Make dinner together. Cook something neither of you have made before like an Indian curry or sushi – Sushi Kit with instructions.
Interesting Fact: The word “Gift” in German, means “poison.”
Valentine’s Date Movies
A Valentine’s date doesn’t have to mean an expensive night out. In fact, a quiet night in watching movies together on the couch has more appeal to me. Here are a few suggestions and favorites of mine.
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Audrey Hepburn)
- Notting Hill (Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts)
- You’ve Got Mail (Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks)
- Sleepless in Seattle (Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks)
- Sense & Sensibility (Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant)
- Pride & Prejudice (Keira Knightley, Matthew McFayden)
- Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Northem)
- Bridget Jones’s Diary (Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant)
- Lady and the Tramp (Disney)
- North & South (Richard Armitage, Daniela Denby-Ashe)
- Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart)
- My Fair Lady (Audrey Hepburn, Harry Stradling Sr.)
Well, this wraps up our Valentine’s Gift and Date Suggestions. I hope you found at least a few helpful ideas here that will save you money but not get you called a “cheap date.” Just remember the purpose of the holiday is to honor the one you love, not compete for who gives the priciest gift.
The best gift would be to be considerate of him/her, everyday and not just on Valentine’s Day. Be creative, and be yourself.
Also check out our Frugal but Thoughtful Mother’s Day Gift Suggestions for more gift ideas.