Spend Less This Valentine’s Day (And Win an iPod Touch!)

By Linsey Knerl on 29 January 2009 852 comments

***Congratulations to Emerson (Comment #360)... You have won the iPod Touch.  We have contacted you by email, and you will have 48 hours to claim your prize, or another winner will be drawn. ****


I’ll admit that I’m not as crazy for V-Day as I once was.  The romance is still there, but my husband and I quit getting extravagant with our gifts once more of our money started going toward diapers.  Still, it’s the little things that can touch your heart, so why not start small with a personalized gift that won’t break the bank?  Here are our favorite tips: 

Last Minute Valentine Cakes on the Fly– Myscha makes bakin’ up some love seem simple.  Maybe because it really is! 

Couplehood:  Avoiding the Valentine’s Clichés – Some might call Andrea cynical.  We call her amazing.  Read up on how to avoid being put into some kind of predictable “love box,” and gain some frugal inspiration at the same time. 

Valentine Ideas for the Single Crowd – I know.  Not everyone is “lucky in love.”  But some would consider themselves pretty darn lucky to be single.  (This one’s for you.) 

Flower Power: A Guide to Frugal Valentine’s Flowers – Roses are a racket, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo the flowers.  This guide can save your marriage (and at least $50.) 

Cheap and Romantic Ideas for Valentine’s Day – Perfect for any day of the year, these are just plain sweet (and many are free!) 

There’s no excuse to avoiding a great gift, just because you’re a little strapped this holiday.  If in doubt, a modern version of the mix-tape is always a great idea.  To help you out, we’ve teamed up with Walmart and Nestle to give one of you lucky readers an 8GB iPod Touch – perfect for uploading your favorite tunes from Walmart.com (or any of the top love songs picked by the 11Moms.)  We’ll even throw in a gift card for your first 10 songs!

To be eligible to win, comment on this post with your favorite frugal V-Day tip.  You have until February 10th to enter.  (Winner will be announced on February 14th!)  U.S. and Canada only.  Must be 18 or older to enter.

Wise Bread will not sell or use your email address for any purpose other than to contact the winner. 

And don’t forget to check out all the cool gift ideas, tips, and promotions at http://www.walmart.com/sweetideas.  They include a cool “Blow a Kiss” phone app, special eValentines, and a totally affordable holiday gift guide.  Can you feel the love?

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Guest's picture

Instead of some big expensive dinner out, I cook up some goodies, and we have a picnic in the living room.

Guest's picture

It's simple, but I always make my husband's favorite dessert, chocolate pudding, from scratch. I do add some chocolate chips for an extra touch. We take the dessert over to the couch to eat and just enjoy each others company.

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susan varney

don't play the horses

Guest's picture

Hubby and I had a tragic loss in our family about 11 years ago just before Valentines, so now, what we do, is buy a bag or two of chocolate hearts and go downtown and give them out to whomever looks like they need a little bit of our chocolate love.

It costs just a few dollars and really it makes us feel wonderful! (and I hope whomever we give them too feel wonderful also)


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Kelly Ann T.

I have some friends over and we play dominos. I make homemade chili, cookies, and little pizzas. I also get a child's package of valentines with treats and I give them out to all my co-workers. They get a real kick out of it.

Guest's picture

I'll bake a pink cake with pink frosting and sprinkles instead of buying all kinds of chocolate.

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Erin Walsh

Stay at home, cook a wonderful dinner together, clean up together and rent or buy his and her favorite movies. Sit on the couch watching them together without any complaining, fidgeting or eyerolling, preferably saving the most romantic one for last. And spend the night in each others arms, treating each other as if your partner was the only other person in the universe who matters to you.

If you can carry this over into the next day, you're guaranteed to have Valentines day everyday.

Guest's picture

To make valentines day special, my husband and I each toss a little something extra in the grocery cart. For instance, I wouldn't normally buy the Starbucks coffee, but for Valentines we treat ourselves. We might pick up a dvd movie we've been wanting to see, and upgrade our Ale to a premium micro brew.

Guest's picture

If you like to go out for Valentine's Day you can always go on a different day. It's easier to get a reservation and less crowded.

For a frugal valentine's day (and one that still lets you go out rather than celebrate at home) it might be fun to go to the planetarium - romantic and inexpensive.

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Rita M

In our early "not a penny to our names" days we would go to the nearest Hallmark store, each pick out the perfect Valentine card, exchange them, gently read them & return them to the rack. Probably not what Hallmark had in mind when they said "When you care to send the very best!", but it worked for us.

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Joanne Schultz

With restaurant prices soaring for the holiday, much less expensive to eat at home. Even buying filet mignon to cook on the grill, and making fresh asparagus and a home-made dessert wouldn't cost as much for a romantic dinner for two.

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Elaine R

Make your own Valentine cards at home-the sentiment is more heartfelt and bake and decorate either an angel food cake(with pink icing or make a large heart shaped chocolate chip cookie and decorate.

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Sheila H

I like the Take photographs together and of each other tip! very good idea!

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Susan T

Instead of an expensive meal out I cook my husbands favorite meal along with a heart shaped cake or cookie. I bought a heart shaped pan many years ago and use it every year..semtaylor(at)yahoo(dot)com

Guest's picture

make it a valentine's day of free services that you will do for each other. Hand make cute coupons and promise to do the jobs by a specific time/date. Get creative!

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Jennifer B.

We like to cook a wonderful special meal at home together and share a nice bottle of wine.

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Angie L

I just don't celebrate. Can't get much cheaper.

Guest's picture

Will make my DH a big heart shaped Chocolate Chip Cookie (fill a pizza pan sheet!!)....will pipe border around cookie and a heart-felt greeting

Guest's picture

When we got married, my husband and I started a two-person journal. First entry was our wedding vows and memories of the wedding. Instead of writing cards to each other for every holiday and birthday, we write a little note in the journal. A lot less clutter and really fun to keep a record of special thoughts. No special Valentine's celebration; we celebrate February 2 at a good (not expensive) restaurant, as it is the anniversary of our first date and much easier to get reservations.

Guest's picture

My parents always go to the nearest Hallmark store on Feb. 14th..
pick out a card... hand them to each other, read them then put them back. If that isn't frugal, i don't know what is !!

Guest's picture

We have six kids so Valentines has to be done on the inexpensive side. Every year my husband and I make "Coupon books" for our kids for Valentines. Each book is unique for the specific child. The oldest gets coupons for $5 gas in her car, Dad's help with an oil change, a use any day to skip school.

The younger kids get a free movie rental, an ice cream cone, help with their chores

We have even given coupon books to each other.

The kids look forward to their coupons, not only do they get some one on one time with one of us, but they get something fun.

Guest's picture

We have never spent a pile of money on Valentines. I would rather go out for a nice dinner on my birthday than share a special day with everyone else and fight the crowds just cause someone says it is the day to say "I love you". I like to get something small but special for each of my kids. Last year I baked and decorated a heart shaped cake and I plan on doing something like that again this year.

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Rhonda R.

Last year I gave my family and friends homemade fudge & heart shaped cookies along with valentines I made using a card making kit and photos printed from my computer. The valentines had a handwritten message telling each person why I loved them. All of this took more time than money.

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Angela S.

We usually have a nice quiet dinner at home. Sometimes I'll cook and sometimes we order out. My husband says it's up to me. We both don't like to go out because of the crowds.

Guest's picture

just a nice homemade meal with the faves ! no fancy dinners out !

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Cynthia McCoy

I always save money on V-day by making my girlfriend a present and cooking at home rather than eating out.

Guest's picture

My husband and I have been together for 8 years now and not once have we gone the traditional route which is just fine with me. I do not believe in spending all sorts of money on each other for one day out of the year because some one else thinks I should. We stay home and have a nice dinner which my husband cooks and we always make sure that we have some time alone with each other. My husband and I try to treat each day of our relationship like V day in that we tell each other that we love one another and try to never forget how lucky we are.

Guest's picture

For our family celebration, we'll bake a Valentine cake...without having to purchase & use a heart shaped cake pan. I hate to spend $ on a special shaped pan...plus it takes up more space. I will mix up 1 cake mix (purchased on sale & with a coupon) and pour it into 2 basic cake pans: 1 square & 1 round cake pan. After they are done baking & have cooled a little...take them out of the pans to finish cooling. When cooled, cut the circle in 1/2...turn the square, so it looks like a diamond. Then place the 1/2 circle on the upper part of the diamond, with the straight side/cut side of the circle matching up on the diamond. Frost with frosting purchased on sale & with a coupon =) the children love the treat of eating by candlelight...so, we may eat our cake by candelight =)

Guest's picture

Do something the day before Valentine's day. That way, your partner will be very surprised. Gifts/plans that happen unexpectedly are always better than expected gifts/plans.

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Barbara McCrea

I definitely like the showering together idea, I usually give my hubby coupons for different things that he likes.
Great giveaway, Thanks for the chance!

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Ken Robinson

I will cook for her and let her dine with the chef. Please accept my entry. Thank you.

Guest's picture

a trip to bk and a box of chocolates

Guest's picture

When I was a kid, my mom made Valentine's Day very special for me by making me pink heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast, and she served them on red paper doilies. One year she made me a huge heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie (like the ones you can get at stores, but she made it all herself).

Of course, now that I'm older and live away from home that doesn't happen anymore, but I still remember it as a sweet part of my childhood.

Now, my boyfriend and I don't celebrate V-Day... our anniversary is a week later, which lets him cash in on the 75% off heart-shaped boxes of chocolates ;)

Guest's picture

My frugal V-day tip would be to go handmade! I'm all about Do It Yourself. You can have your kids make handmade valentines to give away in school. Use glue and construction paper markers and fun embellishments like glitter, lace, and ribbon. You can even attach a candy to each handmade card to "sweet" the deal.

If you're single, spend your V-day indoors. Make a quiet at home dinner, pop in a favorite DVD, take a hot bath and afterwards put on your favorite pajamas.

If you've got a sweetie, make eachother Valentines day cards. Using white posterboard, maybe include a cute poem inside and photos of you two together. Make dinner together, instead of going to a restaurant. Cooking together can be very romantic! Give eachother a massage, and after the kids go to sleep, have some grown up alone time.

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Rebecca Graham

I skip the Valentine's Day Cards and make home made candy for V-Day.

Guest's picture

1. Pull out the cookie cutters and make heart-shaped cookies.
2. Cut your lunch sandwiches into hearts.
3. Make heart-shaped cupcakes by placing a marble inside each muffin tin on the outside of the paper cupcake cup.
4. The gift certificate idea might be just the ticket for you if you’re short on cash but high on love this Valentine’s Day. You could offer to run errands for your loved one, make a nice dinner, clean the house, repair the car or give a massage.
5. How about a Love Scavenger Hunt? - Using a package of inexpensive Valentines from the drug store or grocery store — or, for that matter, any kind of paper — you could write out dozens of reasons why you love your mate. Leave the messages all over the house, in both noticeable and hidden-away places. This is a gift that could keep on giving for weeks or months to come.

**My favorite is the one you mentioned here, I used to love mixed tapes, I know they are called 'playlists' now, but they were just so awesome, especially when the person took the time to decorate the outside of the tape box and write down all the track titles and run times so you could 'skip' ahead! :-)

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Carolyn G

I make dinner in. I make a special meal that would cost twice or three times as much as it would in a restaurant. We also have a spending limit of $10 for a gift. You can get very cvreative with $10.

Guest's picture

if you plan ahead to schedule time and some babysitting hours if needed , you can turn valentines into a week to be looked forward to every year, you have romantic wink wink time everyday for a week ,you each write little request notes in advance and neither will know what day you will get what, too much pressure if you limit yourself to one night with proper planning there is no stress or not enough time, will be a week that keeps you smiling all year , and one you will look forward to next year

Guest's picture

One way to save is to make a nice "coupon book" with coupons for back rubs or doing the dishes, etc. and putting this in a card. We do this for each other as stocking stuffers sometimes - but for V-Day, we don't do much, if anything. Maybe just a small bar of chocolate. We're not so much into V-Day.

Guest's picture

We make our own homemade fondue for Valentine's Day dessert--we cut up strawberries, bananas, & marshmallows to dip in chocolate with a touch of grand marnier

Guest's picture

This is for you single guys, specifically if your girlfriend has a cat.

Maybe bring HER a single flower, and a card (your best judgment, up to you). But bring the CAT a small square of sod, with green grass growing a couple of inches tall. Start by finding some nice aluminum foil container, or better yet, a ceramic dish with some oriental bamboo texture or somesuch on the outside -- then snag a chunk of sod that fits.

I didn't have any "sneaky" plans when I started doing this for the cat belonging to my now-beloved-wife, it just seemed like a good idea -- but my wife still comments about how that one little touch made such an impression, made me stand out from the crowd.

Guest's picture

My husband's B-day is Feb 10 and with V-Day just 4 days later, I have had to be pretty clever about getting the most bang for my buck. I find the best way to do this is to make gifts. I have made him a scrapbook of all our v-Days and birthdays together and using Shutterfly to create gifts is always cheaper if you look for codes online.

Guest's picture

This year I am cooking dinner instead of going out. It will save a lot of money.

Guest's picture

36-condom variety pack at Amazon only $3.75

You'll be set for the next 36 Valentine's days.

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Marilyn Wons

I bake cut out Valentine's Day cookies for friends and family. It is fun and inexpensive!

Guest's picture

My hubby loves being frugal on VD day. He says VD came about because the card co0mpanies needed a holiday in Feb!!LOL We use the same red candles for dinner for the last 5 yrs, I light them, he says looks good now blow them out. We have recycled one card for 10 yrs. Each year we say I love you and put the current year on it.
This all doesn't bother me because he always gets me something nice for Christmas or my birthday.
Thanks for the giveaway.

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joe s

we will be enjoying each others company all day and more importantly all night.

Guest's picture

I will fix a nice dinner for my wife. Pasta, a little seafood, creme brulee for dessert. We have a fireplace. Her mother will take the kids for us. So we can spend the evening alone. Just us. Quiet. Holding hands.

Guest's picture

My wife and I will re-create our first VD. We exchanged a box of 25 cents messsage candies.

Guest's picture

We have a GC for a local restaurant. Xmas leftover.

Guest's picture

"Frugal" isn't a word I'd use in connection with Valentines Day... It isn't about saving money, because it isn't about "what" you can do for the person you love... It's about your willingness to do what you can, in whatever ways you can, to show the person you're with that you love them. :)

Great giveaway!

Guest's picture

I like to make a nice dinner at home and make my girlfriend a mix CD that goes with the evening. A body massage is also part of the deal.

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Linda Fish

We always eat at home and I make a Valentines theme dessert, we only exchange small gifts, like a chocolate heart.

Guest's picture

We have not made plans yet this year for Valentine's Day but we will probably eat out on that day at a less expensive restaurant.

Guest's picture

it's far cheaper to buy flowers than not....trust me on this!!!

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cynthia c

A nice candlelight dinner at home with a spectacular dessert.

Guest's picture

frugal?... let's think value... nothing will be more valuable than a personal connection with your v-day target. write/make/draw/perform somenthing that comes from the heart

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Tari L

I buy my candy for VD at the after Christmas sales. This year I got some great Choxie candy at Target for 75% off. Since it isn't in holiday wrapping, my kids will never know ;)

Guest's picture

Make a heart cake. Make one 8" square layer, and one round layer. Cut the round layer in half, and put the two semi-circles against two straight sides of the square. Voila! Frost it pink and there you go!

Guest's picture

Our family celebrates Valentine's Day with a family dinner (no TV, favorite meals, candles on the table) and home made cards with hand written poems. Kiddo's school had the students write poems to each other so we have continued the tradition at home. Hubby might stop at the store to get a bundle of flowers, but not roses, whatever is cheapest!

Guest's picture

On Valentine's Day, we go for a nice long walk on the beach by our home, come home to a candlelight dinner cooked by both of us, and sit by the fire watching a good movie.

Guest's picture

We do pink heart shaped pancakes for breakfast.

Make the lunch sandwiches shaped like a heart.

Make family favorites for dinner, eat by candlelight. Use butcher paper to cover the table and let the kid draw Valentines on it. Have a heart shaped cake.

The kids look forward to Valentines every year and have fun inviting other family members over for dinner.

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Erica C.

cook for each other and then spend the rest of day in bed!

Guest's picture

alway love the wife on Valentines day or not

Guest's picture

Celebreate the day before or after if you plan to eat out. If you don't like that idea- have a romatic dinner at home.

Guest's picture

We decide ahead of time on a menu for the event. We do the shopping together, the cooking together and then enjoy our meal together. We follow up with a games night for two like we did years ago while dating. Cribbage anyone?

Guest's picture

I always give my loved one a "paid bill" for the love of the relationship, money problems create the decline in a realationship. Being safe, secure, and sexy in our home is wonderful.

Guest's picture

After almost 20 years of marriage there is not a shred of romance left. That sure helps saving money when you can ignore the day altogether.

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Take a walk, get a drink or some dessert, and go home. Valentine should be more about spending time with our loved one than spending money.

Guest's picture

I make my own valentines day cake instead of buying a store bought one and its just as good!

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Heather S

Agree on the dinner together and then make it together. You can put on relaxing music, have some wine and enjoy each others company making the meal then have a relaxing dinner together. It helps you bond and saves money.

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Julia Magrath

Baking a heart-shaped cake has always worked with my family, and it's doing something for all of them in one shot.

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Steve Singer

I stay away from the traditional chocolates & flowers. Hand written cards and a homemade dinner has much more meaning.

Guest's picture

Making a nice dinner at home with a bottle of wine can be much more enjoyable then going out for an expensive dinner.

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John OBrien

We have beautiful lakes nearby (Ontario and some of the Finger Lakes) taking my wife to see free views.

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Marie Galbraith

Love yourself first and formost, don't sweat it if you don't have someone special to share the day with. Pamper youself with a long luxurious bath, pedicure and manicure and give yourself a facial- lounge all day and do all the things you like to spoil yourself.

Guest's picture

You can save a lot of money by doing things yourself. Make your own dinner (especially if you make it for your wife) and you can even make your own cards out of construction paper.

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Casey Miller

We used to go out for supper and a movie, but with a 2 year old we choose to stay in. My husband likes to cook supper and makes me a nice bath. Then we usually watch a dvd rental. Just as nice when you don't have a babysitter or the budget we once had :)

Guest's picture

We've always stayed in for V-Day. Watch a romantic and snuggle by the fireplace.

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Of all the celebrations of the year, This one touches my heart the most. Heart shaped sugar cookies, with the person's name inscribed. Kinda Big ones. And a personal message. It's traditional, yet fits the day.

Guest's picture

Shop the Christmas clearance aisle for boxes of chocolates that don't look too Christmasy and give them for Valentines day, there are some terrific deals.

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Jack Davis

Don't cook today, take her out for a romantic candlelight dinner!

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pamper her. clean the house, stay in, make her favorite dish, or something she's always wanted but just never does (test it first on friends)

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Tammy Grady

My favorite frugal V-Day tip is to spend a virtaul romantic outing playing World of Warcraft sitting side-by-side on our computers, munching on chocolats adn wine while we play.

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Susan F

I prepare an elegant meal at home, I decorate the table, light candles and put on romantic music.

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mike anderson

You gotta have chocolate on v day.

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Kayce C

I liked the Hit the Road for a Night on the Town idea.

Guest's picture

since i am a student, and single.. i am poor, and am not favorable to valentines day,

but to cheer myself up, my day will include acting like i am 12:

old style sleepover with movies, mac-and-cheese and coke floats!

classic, and uber-cheap!!!!! and everyone will be happY!

Guest's picture

My husband and I were trying to think of romantic (and frugal) ideas for our 10th anniversary dinner. Instead of going to a restaurant, my husband and I had a picnic dinner on our roof! We propped a ladder against the house, brought up a blanket, wine and some take out. It was wonderful and unforgettable. It is definitely not something we would do everyday... (it is helpful to have a flat roof and good weather!)

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Cook a nice, romantic meal at home instead of going out to eat.

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Lisa L.

Lisa L. is single & sad.

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Pamela W

I help my grandchildren make valentines for their parents. We also bake cookies to give as gifts. Cost effective and creative gift.

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Melanie Lee

My husband and I exchange home made cards. I also make a romantic dinner at home instead of going out. With the weather in my area, its much better to stay home. Its always cold and sometimes snowing!

Guest's picture

Gifts for your loved one should be heartfelt and noncommercial!

Being a student and having to pay for tuition, I'm always broke! So I've had to get creative when it comes to giving my boyfriend presents.

Last year what I did was this:

I spent a month writing & perfecting a heartfelt poem for him, (how much I loved him, the things I love about him, how much he meant the world to me, etc). It took me a month because I wanted it to be so special, personal and perfect (I started writing it in January).

Then I went to a discount store to find a nice glass picture frame. I also bought a Silver colored permanent marker.

I found a beautiful black and white photo of the two of us, put it into the frame, and very carefully, in calligraphy-like handwriting, used the permanent marker to write out the poem on the glass frame around where the photo would be displayed.

After the ink dried, I put the finished photo frame in a gift box with tissue wrap, and gave it to him. I think this gift was more valuable and memorable than anything I've ever bought for him - it took me a lot of time, thought, and effort but he loves it and and still has it on his nightstand 4 years later.

Guest's picture

Just thought of another romantic V-day thing I've done:

I bought 3 pieces of red poster board, and cut out a gazillion paper hearts from them. Then on each heart I wrote "I love ___"

e.g. "I love how you always make me laugh so hard"
"I love the way it tingles when you kiss me on the cheek"
"I love how you don't know how to dance, but you'll come to tango class just for me"
"I love the way you sing"
"I love how kind your are to others"

on and on. I think I had like about 400 little hearts in the end. It took me a lot of writing and thinking of him to fill out 400 hearts.

Then I snuck into his house and bedroom and filled the entire bedroom with my paper hearts (spaced out all over the floor, taped to the walls, all over the bed, desk, nightstand, etc) so that it was just red everywhere. Shut the door and snuck away. He was surprised!

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no plans

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Linda Chaput

Make Valentine's gifts,cards and decorations at home.Use crafts,discarted red paper and recycle boxes to make home decoration and cards.

Guest's picture

I always save on going out by making my husbands favorite "Heart shaped" meatloaf with a nice bottle of Merlot.

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Angela J

I bake him a heart shaped cake, and he buys me a bouquet of flowers, it's about as inexpensive as you can get.

Guest's picture

This year I am so excited about what I have planned. I'm giving my husband a memory:

My husbands b-day is the day before Valentine's Day... so I wanted to plan a fun/romantic evening on that Friday. I found out that there's a drive-in movie theater about 45 minutes from our house.

I plan to put some blankets in the trunk, pack up a mini birthday cake, some hot chocolate, and set the GPS to get us there. (He likes to drive.) I also am making a list of his all-time favorite songs to listen to on the way there and the way back... 1 1/2 hours of music just for him.

On the way, I plan to take his order for the food he wants (from the menu printed from the internet and hidden in my purse). While I go get it (when we arrive), I'll give him a letter full of love and memories that he can read while he listens to songs that he loves. (I am also asking his family to send him fun and happy memories in cards in manila envelopes addressed to me... because they live far away and can't be here to celebrate.)

And we'll arrive home after midnight, which will be Valentine's Day. I'll then give him a card telling him the reasons I love him, how thankful I am for him, how proud I am of who he is, how blessed I am to be his wife, and just how much I am looking forward to making many more memories together. Hopefully, it'll be a Birthday and Valentine's Day he'll never forget.