Ask the Readers: How Do You Celebrate Valentine's Day Frugally?

By Ashley Jacobs on 4 February 2014 (Updated 11 February 2014) 70 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Mary, Diana, and Gina for winning this week's contest!

Valentine's Day is almost here! It's another one of those highly commercialized holidays, but there's no rule saying you have to break the bank to partake in this day for love.

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day frugally? Do you stick with tradition — flowers, chocolate, dinner by moonlight — or do you plan something outside the heart-shaped box? How do you express your love to the people you care about?

Tell us how you celebrate Valentine's Day frugally and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, February 10th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after February 10th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
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Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Danielle E

We wait until the day after to celebrate. Gifts are less expensive and restaurants aren't booked. Sometimes we just skip going out altogether and spend the day at home doing activities together.

Guest's picture
Mary Happymommy

My kids make homemade cards for Daddy which are treasured more than store-bought cards.

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Allison

What my boyfriend and I are doing are not getting each other gifts, but instead just cooking a nice meal together at his apartment and watching a movie. Very romantic!

Guest's picture
Guest

My Sweetie and I "pretend shop".....first we go to the card store and spend time picking out the perfect card for each other...we then go online and choose the perfect jewelry -often diamonds then we plan the perfect getaway vacation by checking travel sites. We have allot of fun and we do all this without spending a dime- since it's the thought that counts! We both feel totally loved!

Guest's picture
Guest

I like to show my love all year long so it's no pressure to impress my wife on Feb 14th. Other than that we like a simple dinner at a restaurant that's not expensive and a movie night.

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Liz

We usually make cards and exchange them. Then we make a nice dinner together and enjoy the evening at home. We like to have a monthly or bi-monthly dinner date out together, but make sure it's never on Valentine's Day, as we don't want to pay double for a crowded restaurant! We acknowledge the day, but also believe a solid relationship is about being caring every day, not just one day of the year.

Guest's picture
Ashley

Candlelit home-cooked dinner (can save at the least $15 per person if going to a somewhat nice restaurant).
Crafted cards (can save at least $5-6 dollars per person assuming one has paper and pens.)
Bouquet picked from garden (saves at least $6)
Hand-made coupons for small gestures, like back/neck rub or breakfast in bed service.

Guest's picture
lostAnnfound

We do not buy cards for each other because it's just something that ends up getting thrown away anyway! We may make a special meal together and watch a movie at home. We make sure to spend some time with each other.

Guest's picture
ij

By taking the time to appreciate each other. It's good for the soul and it don't cost a thing.

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KF

I'm lucky because my girlfriend hates valentine's day. Just a normal day for us! We do save money on romantic dates by cooking for each other.

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Gina

Cook a romantic meal at home. It's cheaper than going out.

Guest's picture
Monica

We try to keep it simple, we usually do a small gift and have dinner together at home.

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Betty

We celebrate at home. We'll do some sort of special dinner, with a later dessert. Gifts are usually something small- this year I made husband and daughter coffee mugs painted with sharpies then baked. Got the mugs at the Dollar Store.:)

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Erin

I celebrate V-day frugally by not celebrating at all! My husband and I don't do anything special, although we do hang out (because we do that every day!).

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Elena

We make handmade gifts for Valentine's Day

Guest's picture
monique

I prefer to make things as gifts and avoid those things or restaurants that are overpriced due to demand on Valentine's Day

Guest's picture
Diane

We usually go out for a special lunch together~ cheaper than going out for dinner, and much less crowded. Then we spend the evening at home together. My sweetie does buy me flowers, but get them at a local store, rather than shipped from a florist~ just as beautiful, but much more reasonable!

Guest's picture
Anu

Scrapbooking. By Valentine's Day, I make sure I've updated our "adventure book" for the last year, so we can take a romantic walk down memory lane.

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Jennifer

My boyfriend and I watch Moulin Rouge!, our favorite love story, at home. We usually skip the big gifts and either make dinner together, or go dutch for a evening out on a night that is not Valentine's day.

Guest's picture
rt

take a snowy walk in the woods and talk about how nice it will be when green things start to grow again in the spring.

Guest's picture
Karen L

We use coupons even when dining out on V-day. There is no shame in saving money no matter what the occasion.

Guest's picture
alona

Hubby and I do not exchange gifts. In the past years we, along with our close friends, have attended a dinner/dance organized by local organization. The cost is usually around $50-60/couple. There is a different theme each year. It's a very fun filled evening for a reasonable cost. This year, our church is having a dinner/dance, and it's only $20/per couple or $15/person :)

Guest's picture
Sweta

Order takeout and watch Season 2 of House of Cards on Netflix.

Guest's picture
Sable

We hit up the stores the day after Valentine's Day for candy & chocolate that's usually at least 50% off! Then we come home and pig out and watch reruns of one of our favorite shows or rent a movie from Redbox. If we want to do dinner, we will make a date of it by shopping for ingredients and cooking together.

Guest's picture
Lisa

Hugs, kisses, and smiles are free!

Guest's picture
Diana

My hubby and I celebrate but not on the 14th. Later in the month when we have a coupon (most are not valid on the 14th). We generally like cards and try to find them at the dollar store. My hubby has kept every card I've given to him!

Guest's picture
MELISSA HANSSON

I've come up with a plan to do something sweet for my husband every day of February. I bought him a few small gifts, but mostly I'm planning treats from what I already have. I've printed little notes to hang around the house, cards to include in his work bag, I'm going to make some of his very favorite foods, and I've got a few craft projects to try out for him.

Guest's picture
Mel

We just cook a special meal at home.

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Jennifer

We always have a "fancy" dinner at home. My husband makes lobster fried rice which for the two of us only requires one lobster tail and a few other ingredients we always have on hand. Then we buy an inexpensive bottle of wine but break out our toasting flutes from our wedding and use those and our china to eat. We save some serious cash and have a better meal than we would get as most places.

Guest's picture
DeeDee

I'll cook a yummy meal and bake something special too.

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Rebecca B. A. R.

My husband and I usually only exchange cards and candy for Valentine's Day.

Guest's picture

I cut out paper hearts and put something I love about my husband on each one. Then I hide them all over the house. Some of them are so well hidden that it takes him months to find them (like the one I put in his bathing suit).

It gives him months of happiness, unlike the chocolates he wolfs down in 30 seconds.

Guest's picture
Tabathia B

We usually eat at home, check out a budget matinee on the weekend and purchase half price chocolate and stuffed animals for the kids after the 14th

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Kim D

Agree with Danielle E - we have a nice dinner at home for Valentine's day proper but go out somewhere nice during the week of. Instead of gifts for each other, we put money towards something we are saving for (this year, it's new couches!).

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Jennifer Marie

We celebrate at home and have dinner and movie with the family.

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Liisa

We aren't tied to the day at all, so we either spend free quality time together or do nothing on the 14th, but go out to eat or something a week before or after. Once or twice he has surprised me with roses, but this year I asked him to hold off since they are so expensive and instead take me to Whole Foods a week or two later to let me pick out a fun spring bouquet. Win, win on my end! :)

Guest's picture
Emily

Making dinner at home, watching a movie and going to bed early. Sounds divine and romantic.

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Ernest S.

We are celebrating at home ... then taking a trip the next weekend (to avoid all the overpriced hotels).

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Bethany

We go to Costco and get scallops. Not the cheapest meal, but way cheaper than out on 2/14.

Guest's picture
red

My wife and I plan to have lunch in SF, and just walk on the beach with our 2 month old. It's not how much, it's who you have and that's more than enough for my wife and I.

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Liz

For our first newlywed Valentine we will be cooking a special dinner together, putting on a Pandora station, lighting candles, and enjoying a romantic evening at home.

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Robert connor

Will make a nice dinner at home with kids at baby sitter and visit somehwere nice outdoors weather permiting!

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Christina

We are making dinner at home, I am making the meal, he is in charge of dessert, and we are staying in watching a movie together.

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rmyers

I make my kid's valentine's for school, but I noticed there are tons of free valentine printables available on the web. They are really cute and there are many differents kinds, all for free!

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Danielle

Homemade valentines - my fave!

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Sean

Groupon is the way to go! Got a custom made coupon book, with our pictures in it for $5!

Coupons for Dates, massages, etc.

Guest's picture
Connie

We generally have a really good steak dinner by candlelight (if the kids are gone)--inexpensive and delicious!

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florida mom

When going out to dinner, we book in advance for a place that we've bought a Resturent.com certificate from. It's always been honored (check the details of your certificate) My favorite was a candlelight dinner on a blanket watching the waves at the beach! When the kids came, we have a "red" day. We wear something red and eat "red" foods. I go all out with the red table cloth (red bed sheet from a yard sale cheap) red glasses (bought for a song at a thrift store) When the kids were small, i'd have an Italian dinner, complete with strawberries ( $1 from dollar tree) on top of homemade pudding, then watch lady & the tramp.. AWWWW the memories!

Guest's picture
Happy Love

We buy strawberries at the grocery store and melt chocolate to pour over the strawberries.

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Susan D.

I avoid romantic entanglements like boils, which is a real time and money saver on Valentine's Day! :)

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Caroline

we are making food together at home and skipping the flowers. We will be watching a romantic movie and stay cozy at home especially with this snowy weather

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Laura Griffin

Dinner and movie night at home!

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Lynda

we don't really celebrate valentines day anymore after we got married ;)

Guest's picture
T Price

The best 5 step $10 Vday gift...

1. Burn a cd with some of you and your mates favorite pics and music....99c for a blank cd and another buck for a customizable printable cd cover. Customize with pics and a cute message.

2. While at the 99c store buy some of your mates favorite candies and a fancy jar to put them in. $2 worth of hersheys chocolate/caramel candies and a $2 jar can go a long way.Half way there.

3. Write a poem,make a card or write a letter to your sweetheart. Free 99.

4.Grab some candles to serve as double duty-a gift and an ambiance later.$7 bucks.

5.Grab some strawberries from your local grocer and melt the candy....instant chocolate covered strawberries for your sugarplum. Strawberries-$2.99.

Dont forget to play the cd while you feed your love.Enjoy.

Donna Freedman's picture

We aren't celebrating as such. Instead, we'll do what we always do: Have a home-cooked meal, listen to some music, read or play a game. And remain in love.

Guest's picture
Ashley P

My husband always gets me flowers that I can plant in our yard, instead of cut overpriced ones that die within the week. That way we can enjoy them throughout spring. Also, my favorite candy is mini Cadbury chocolate eggs...they get put on shelves immediately the day after Valentine's day. He jumps on those too ;)

Guest's picture
Guest

I stay in and cook a romantic meal. :)

Guest's picture
An

Cook your meal in and sit by the fire while eating

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Margaret Davis

My husband started a frugal, healthy and thoughtful Valentine's tradition when we first started dating. I am allergic to most flowering plants. So, our first Valentine's Day he wrote a short, heart felt letter to me and drew me a rose. Each year since then, we take some time to write a letter to the other person - he is more artistic so he has consistently drawn flowers, etc. for me. I'm the one who plans the groceries and keeps my eye open for deals so I will use earning from InBox dollars, MyPoints etc. or get a deal through Groupon, etc. to get a gift certificate for one of his favorite restaurants. Since he does the majority of the cooking - he can "redeem" that gift certificate any night he doesn't want to cook!

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KelR1

We don't go out for a big Valentine's dinner every year. Sometimes we do. Sometimes we go out to lunch that day instead when it's a little less busy and a little cheaper. Some years we just get a pizza and hang out at home. We don't exchange gifts, but we will treat ourselves to a small sweet treat like some chocolates or a slice of yummy cake. We prefer to not do gifts and save that money toward future experiences together like a vacation.

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Rea Liz

We usually just stay home and rent a movie and get take out!

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Alissa A

Gifts from the heart with financial limits!!

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Laura J

I always think of having a nice candle light meal at home...have the family watch the kids to save on having to pay the babysitter....and I love to make my own homemade valentines with little catch sayings! So fun!!!

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Jamie

We save one of our two restaurant meals for the month for Valentine's Day. That way it is already in the eating out budget. Plus we don't go to an extravagant restaurant, just a nicer one. I'm planning on spending about $35.

We also don't do gifts or flowers or chocolates. We give each other the gift of time.

Guest's picture
prathee chandar

Make homemade gifts and cook a nice meal at home for dinner. It's always a winner at our home.

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Abby

I make cards and gifts. Also, we make a nice dinner instead of going out to eat.

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J. Pario

We have nothing planned!

When you've both got busy lives, that actually is a treat!

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Amanda Sakovitz

I'm celebrating it frugally this year because I dont have anyone to buy for :)

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Marcie Lynn Florance

My husband and I usually do sweet things for one another throughout the year, and we try to "amp it up" just a bit on V. Day! Our anniversary is on the 12 of Feb., so we have a wonderful week. This year I ordered personalized M&Ms with our anniversary date and our little saying we use to call one another. Our children gave us a fifty dollar gift card for Christmas, and we saved it to use this V. Day!

Guest's picture
Thomas Murphy

We make a nice dinner at home instead of going out to dinner.