Dinner at the city’s finest restaurant, a diamond pendant, a box of top-shelf chocolates. As romantic as they may be, many traditional Valentine’s Day tropes carry a hefty price tag. Just as money can’t buy happiness, there’s nothing attractive about going broke. But, even if you don’t have enough expendable income to dote your darling in luxury this February, there are plenty of sweet ways to show your affection without breaking the bank.
One of the most inexpensive ways to spend an intimate evening with your significant other is to prepare them a meal at home. You can either get in the kitchen together, or work solo to craft something you know they’ll love—it doesn’t have to be fancy. If you’re not very creative culinarily, there are plenty of recipes and step-by-step tutorials online for easy recipes like homemade pasta or pizza. Bonus points if you make the pizza heart-shaped.
Gift a Spa Day
Spending a day at the spa is a great way to rejuvenate. You can either gift your sweetie an individual spa day or go as a couple. To save some cash, opt for a smaller, local establishment. There are usually some great deals on Groupon if you’re open to trying somewhere new. For even more savings, turn your home into a spa. Again, thanks to modern technology, there are a plethora of DIY videos and tutorials online to help you out if esthetics isn’t your wheelhouse.
Karaoke is appropriate for just about any occasion. Depending on your style and that of your SO, you can even invite friends for a double-date or couples night out and make a night of it. If you or one of your friends has a home karaoke machine, you can host a party at home for the small price of a few bottles of wine or liquor (less if you ask guests to bring their own beverages). If you choose to go out, lessen the expense by pre-gaming with a glass or two of champagne before hitching a ride with a designated driver or ride service.
Write a Love Letter
Aside from being generally overpriced, Valentine’s Day cards are often cheesy or unoriginal. Take a note from famed romantics like Lord Byron, Shakespeare, and Virginia Woolf and craft an old-fashioned love letter. You don’t have to be a master of the pen to make this work. All it takes is some sincerity and, if possible, some decent parchment in case they want to save it as a keepsake. Write about how you two met, your first date, your journey so far, and your future together. If you’re feeling especially creative, you can even craft a poem or song.
Do Something Good
True love and lasting relationships require a balance of give and take. What better way to get in the spirit of giving than by donating some time as to helping others? Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, senior center, or elementary school classroom for the day. You can help spread some love, while also getting in some nice bonding time with your sweetheart.
It’s usually best to forego gifts in general if you’re looking to spend a budget-friendly Valentine’s Day. But there are some creative options that cost little, but mean a lot. One such gift is a compilation of memories. Gather some photos and memorabilia representative of your time together and put them in a photo frame or decorative box, kind of like a time capsule of love. You can add things like a matchbook from your first-date restaurant, a photo from each year of your relationship, a trinket gathered from a favorite vacation, and so on.
Despite whatever the slew of Valentine’s Day ads from jewelry stores and fine dining establishments may try to tell you, this holiday is what’s in your heart, not what’s in your wallet. Whether you’re spending a night in on the couch or out on the town, if you do it with love, you’re doing it right.