Cheap and Romantic Ideas for Valentine's Day (And Any Other Day of the Year)

by Xin Lu on 11 February 2008 14 comments
Photo: To Love

I have always loathed Valentine's day because everywhere I went I would see gaudy pink and red balloons and roses and men who are literally suckered into buying the useless things out of "tradition". I also had a pretty darn cheap ex-boyfriend , and I rarely received a Valentine's gesture from him. I think once he did buy me a day old strawberry shortcake that was half off at the Safeway bakery. Anyway,today I shall list some ideas for Valentine's that aren't gaudy or expensive. This is for the frugal and practical guys and gals out there who want to express love anytime without participating in a commercialized fluff of a "holiday".

1. Write a love letter or poem
- It costs practically nothing to put your feelings on paper. It may not be easy to write down emotions, but practice makes perfect. You do not have to be a great writer to just recount a great date you have had with your lover and describe how happy he or she makes you. As long as you put some effort into crafting a message that expresses your adoration for your mate, whatever you do will be appreciated. My husband once wrote a whole journal about himself and what led to our relationship and gave it to my birthday. I thought that was a really romantic gift.

2. Take a walk or hike together - Once my husband and I walked for a few hours on the beach and collected seaglass, and we turned it into a bit of a competition to see who found the biggest piece. When you walk together you see the world differently than from your TV or your car and I think it is romantic because walking makes the world and your lover seem more real and tangible.

3. Cook a favorite meal at home - Instead of going to an expensive restaurant, it is fun to dress up a favorite meal cooked at home. You can light candles on the dinner table, dim the lights, and put on some mood music. It is also possible to duplicate expensive meals at home at wholesale costs if you are adept at cooking.

4. Creatively use free flower petals - Usually florists throw away the outside petals of flowers to make the flowers they sell look perfect. Each day if you just go by a florist they will probably have a lot of free flower petals for people to take. You can take these petals and do many things with them. For example, you can decorate the dinner table, bed, or float the petals in a bath.

5. Surprise your significant other at times you usually do not see him or her - If you work in different places then it would be fun to have a surprise lunch date set up for your mate. Of course, do not do this if your partner does not like to be bothered at work or if they are embarassed by you.

6. Take photographs together and of each other
- After being together for a bit you may find that you do not actually have that many photographs of each other. It is fun to just set aside a time to pick up the camera and take pictures of each other. You can also go to a photobooth and take pictures together. Photographs are always good reminders of the good times you have had.

7. Do something that your partner likes to do but you do not necessarily appreciate - No matter how compatible a couple is, two people will have different interests. For example, if he loves fishing and you do not, maybe you can accompany him on a fishing trip. If she loves poetry readings and you do not, maybe you can read her some poems. Doing something you normally would not do for the sake of your mate can be very romantic.

8. Shower or bath together - Cleaning each other in the tub or in a shower is great fun because you can touch each other everywhere. It could also conserve water. If one person rinses while the other lathers then it is possible to use the same amount of water one person usually uses to clean two people!

I am sure there are many other ways of being romantic and frugal at the same time. The key is to know your partner and his or her preferences. For example, my husband knows that I think bouquets of roses are stupid because they die after three days so he no longer buys them, but he knows I love food so he always cooks to cheer me up. As long as you make an effort to make your mate feel loved, you can be romantic without becoming a spendy Valentine's Day cliche .

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Myscha Theriault's picture

We've done numbers 3 and 8, but I really like the photo idea. We really do have fewer photos together than I would like. Thanks for the ideas list.

Guest's picture
Guest

From the way outta left field department:

Re: Number 5. Don't surprise your partner if they would be embarrassed by you? Doesn't this beg the question of why would you be going to all the lengths of planning an awesome Valentine's day if you're with a person who would be embarrassed by your presence in public?

Guest's picture
Guest

I know! That's HILARIOUS. Seriously, don't call me. I'll call you.

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Barbara

The #5 bit about the other person being embarrassed made me laugh, only because I know that's not how you meant it. I dated a guy once who hated it when I showed up to his work because his co-workers would tease him about it for the rest of the day.

I like the idea of just going for a walk. My guy and I do that on a regular basis, and since it's pretty cold here at the moment, we usually come back in, make some hot cider or something similar and cuddle up on the couch under a blanket to warm back up. It's incredibly relaxing to hang out that way.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

Yeah.. I didn't mean embarrassed in a bad way, but some people are just naturally more shy and don't like it when coworkers have a chance to tease them.  I had a coworker who was like that and he wouldn't even bring his wife to company parties even though she is a gorgeous woman.  He is sort of embarrassed in the way that he doesn't want people to comment on his wife and their relationship.

Guest's picture

From experience, showering with a friend is only fun if both bathers are relatively similar in height. As a short woman with a tall husband, all I get out of the deal is a face full of water. Any ideas for how to make this activity fun for the short person? (My husband loves co-showering, but he's not the one nearly drowning each time we do it.) :-)

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Guest

The taller person can block the water for the shorter one with their body, or adjust the height of the water spray when you're using it.

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Guest

The taller person can block the water for the shorter one with their body, or adjust the height of the water spray when you're using it.

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Guest

Hey Beth, my wife is shorter then me. What we did was purchased a new shower head. One that had two shower heads that worked at the same time. That way you can hold one in you hand and one can stay stationary. You can also shut one off so you have full control as to where the water shoot... which can be kind of fun too... hope that helps

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Guest

Try a bath if not big enough rent a hotel room with a large tub for a day and just spa together, it really takes you away from everyday life and is not that expensive.

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Guest

Nice list, it's not the basic, unoriginal stuff. New and fresh ideas, good job!

Although the previous responses are true; these gifts are not a one size fits all.

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Pete

Thanks for the tips, i included a link in my post valentine's roundup!

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Patty

If you want to give your sweetheart something special without spending a lot of money, bake him something special and spectacular, depending on his taste. A batch of chocolate-dipped hazelnut biscotti is easy to make, a little gourmet, and will make him think of you every morning as he dips it in his coffee. :)

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Guest

YIKES! Be careful of #4!! Unless they're organic flowers, those petals are covered in STRONG pesticides. Definitely not something I'd like to be soaking in. Especially after that hot bath water has opened up your pores. A rash or severe skin irritation is not romantic at all.