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

By Linsey Knerl on 29 January 2009 (Updated 18 September 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

My husband and I plan on just staying home and he will cook something wonderful. He will probably get me some assorted chocolates and will cuddle on the couch and watch tv.

Guest's picture
Colleen S

We splurge at the grocery store instead of going out. We get a nicer steak or good seafood and a nicer bottle of wine. We enjoy cooking together and find that the romance isnt so forced as it is waiting at an over booked crowded restruant which will cost 3 times as much in the long run.

Guest's picture
Cathie

Valentines is our biggest "homemade" holiday. As my granddaughter says "A homemade gift is best because someone really loves you a lot if they take all that time to make you something nice" (she's 7) But all our gifts and cards are all homemade. For us it gives us some special things to save in our memory books.......as each yr the cards are so individual of them and the age they were when they made them. My husband cooks us a "fancy" dinner now that my arthritis doesn't allow me to cook alone and I still make a special dessert for him

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Guest

That is soooooooo sweet Cathie.....

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sarah h

We make our own cards and use our own sentiments!

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Debbie W.

We just love a quiet time together. Setting up the coffee table as our dining room table, with lots of over sized pillows. I'll be ordering Chinese, and we will just enjoy a quiet evening with some rented movies. I always look forward to my traditional single red rose.
Simple things are the best and most memorable.

Guest's picture
Kate

I think a love letter is the best possible gift of all, it can be cherished forever. If you aren't great at expressing yourself through words than just google famous love letters and poems, print things that catch your fancy in different scripts (giving proper acknowledgment and credit to whomever said it) and put together a book of love sentiments you would like to express through the words of those who do it better.

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Ginny

Well vday to me is more what you make it. You can do handmade cards, eat a regular home cooked dinner, but use candles instead of lights (makes it even more frugal then reg. dinner & watch some favorite tv or movie that you already own :)

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Kim

My hubby grows beautiful flowers as a hobby and always presents me with a gorgeous bouquet on Valentine's morning. I make a special card for him with my heart-felt thoughts. We cook dinner together in the evening and snuggle on the couch in front of the fire, talking about our dreams. Thank you for the wonderful giveaway!

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Kathy W

I think a homemade romantic dinner and some cuddle time would work great for any woman. My husband always does this.

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Diane G

For Valentines Day, I bake cupcakes, with white or pink icing and decorated with red sprinkles or cinnamon hearts or candy hearts with messages. Cake and candy...can't beat that for putting a smile on all my loved ones' faces.

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Patricia Treskovich

This year the kids will spend the night with grandparents, so we can have some time alone for dinner at an inexpensive reaturant and....

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Susan Smith

We make our own cards and eat at home. Instead of a box of chocolates I get a Snickers bar which is my favorite candy.

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Gregg D.

This will be my first valetine's with my new girlfriend and we are planning of skipping all the expenses and hoopla. We are going to find a new recipe and will have a fun night cooking together.

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Jennifer Walker

My husband loves a good breakfast and Valentine's Day is one of the days I make the time to prepare a great meal to start off his day. Heart-shaped pancakes, eggs and toast while he's in the shower. While he's in the shower and the mirror is all steamed up, I sneak in and write a love message on the mirror for him to read when he gets out.

jwalker8@canada.com

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Lisa

My husband was out of town for our daughter's first Valentine's Day. I bought a white t-shirt and used an iron-on transfer to create an I Love Daddy shirt. I took a picture of our daughter in the shirt and e-mailed it to him. My daughter is 5 now and our son 2 and every year I create a new I Love Daddy shirt and take a picture of the kids. We both love the pictures.

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Julie J.

This year I'm buying a short length of 2 x4 at the bargain lumber yard and painting "to my stud" on it. Attach a balloon and some chocolate and he will feel like million bucks. I hope.

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Amy B.

My husband and I have been married for 12 years. For the last 2 years we have been having my mother to babysit my 3 kids while we stay at home order a large baked spaghetti and cheese (which we split. We then play music but soft enough to were we can talk to each other. We just spend that couple of hours catching up while spending time alone. For the whole night it costs us around $10. After you have kids you have to make the most of what you got. Thanks for the chance to win this.

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Autumn H.

We don't like spending a lot of money of V-day, so we cook a meal together and give each other homemade cards, it has a lot of sentiment without breaking the budget!

autumn398 (at) yahoo.com

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aaron

i feel that a guy can never go wrong with a set of 2 dozen roses from whole foods and a nice home cooked dinner (organic of course)!

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Tatjana Koraksic

We usually don't have any special plans for V-day,
so that saves a lot of money :-)

We try to show affection in various ways through the year,
not necessarily connected with shopping and spending money.
The V-day has become so heavily commercialized that it seems totally fake.

Although iPod Touch sounds very nice!
Thanks for the giveaway :)

Guest's picture
Petunia

I think the best times are just when you spend time together on Valentine's Day. It doesn't have to be overpriced at all. Once we had a picnic on the roof of our apartment and watched the sun set... Picnic basket, wine and all! It was really romantic.

Guest's picture
Guest

Just say I Love You!

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Teresa C

Well, my daughter actually took a lot of time to make cards for her entire class, but that was really time consuming. I like to buy next year's Valentine's toys, knick knacks, decorations for my child's class after Valentine's Day. Sure, you have to store them for a year, but it feels so good to be able to donate to the class party for so little.

Thanks.

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Wendy Wallach

I have been printing my ownj cards from the intrnet for quite some time for not only Valentines Day but other holidays and have saved quite a bit doing that.

madamerkf at aol dot com

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jffryclough

anything made by yourself is always a little more precious

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Jean P

We've decided that since V day is all about love that we're going to spend a bit of money helping unfortunate homeless cats and dogs.
A nice donation to the MSPCA and a cozy dinner at home for us. Share the love, help other living creatures.

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Lissa

I have 4 boys and sill try to make the day special and about them by making dinner red colored and/or heart shaped or both. Heart shaped individual pizzas, mini cakes, serving plates, and of course a small box of chocolates. Making memories so that they will be creative one day to their special loved one.

Guest's picture
den

flowers

Guest's picture
ag

candy

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Lmay

We are eating at home on the actual day, and then the next week we will go out - beat the crowds and save time on the wait!

Guest's picture
Lmay

We are eating at home on the actual day, and then the next week we will go out - beat the crowds and save time on the wait!

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Scott V

We have stopped eating out for V-day and instead splurge at the grocery store and for 1/2 the cost we can have a meal just the way we like it. Plus we hit our wine cellar and save the 100% markup. That really adds up on expensive wine.

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Christine

Last Valentine's Day my husband was on deployment so I spent it alone with our dog. This year, some friends got free tickets to a play and we're all going to have a little dinner after. It will be an inexpensive, but great night because we're together this year. Thank you for the wonderful giveaway!

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Brandlyn

I always make my boyfriend a homemade card every year with a poem inside. Doesnt cost anything to make. But he doesnt care as long as it comes from the heart.

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Sharla

Okay, so I have two tips! My hubby and I like to get out since we don't often. I have found that there are young girls here in our area that are willing to babysit for free on V-day.

And two, my other tip is to enter awesome giveaways like this one so you have something amazingly cool to give for free! Thanks!

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Shawn

I was recently laid off due to company downsizing, but I didn't want to let that ruin Valentine's Day for me and my girlfriend. So this year, I've decided to celebrate it with her a day early -- on Friday the 13th. I figure that this gesture will not only surprise her, but it'll help ward off any evil mojo that is floating around on that day... if you believe in that sort of thing.

I don't have a lot of extra money at the moment, so I needed to plan wisely to make the most of it. I made an arrangement with the owner of the convenience store next door wherein I helped him to stock items this past Sunday afternoon. In return, he'll allow me a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers on Friday. I'll give these to her when I pick her up from work (public transit -- gotta save on gas!) and since museum admission is 50% off on Fridays, we'll head there to start off our evening.

When I bring her back to my place, I'll give her a mixed-CD that I made for her (which includes a poem I wrote for her written on the inside cover) along with a little coupon book that she can use to claim stuff like backrubs, etc. I know it's corny, and far from original but I took the time to draw funny little illustrations of me doing the activities described in the cards, so I'm sure she'll appreciate it nonetheless.

We'll listen to songs from the CD... and talk... and sip on wine (generously donated by my parents) while I cook dinner for us , and after we've finished eating we'll probably watch a movie... at which point we'll probably just fall asleep in each other's arms. Or head to the bedroom for you know what, lol.

So nothing too fancy, but as you can see, with a little resourcefulness and some planning, anyone can make their special someone feel... well... special!

Guest's picture
PAIGE CHANDLDER

The 99cent store has great V-day cards and candy. Cheap but cute.

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Steve D

Stay home. Avoid the traffic. Save on gas. Save on babysitters. Together with your partner, cook yourselves your own meal; you will save money by avoiding expensive restaurant meals.

Guest's picture
Guest

radio stations often do massive numbers of requests on valentine's day. it's always free to ask, though, of course, it's not a sure thing that it'll get played. if you have a good story, they generally will.

of course, it needs to either be soemthing they'll be listening to, or you could record it (does anybody still use tapes for these things anymore? thoughsome radio stations have streams on the internet, but recording those could be tricky) and put it onto one of those mixtapes... if you're doing that you could conceivably do it ahead of time.

Guest's picture
Melody

Giving each other our time is the most frugal Valentine's tip I have for this contest...Time is the most precious gift of all but it really cost us nothing and I remember special time spent together much more than any card, candy, or flowers.

Guest's picture

Every year my husband and I spend the night just us at the house... we enjoy the time together, make dinner together and cuddle up on the couch for a movie! I, of course, love flowers and just so I don't miss out on that part we started a tradition our first year to always buy the flowers AFTER valentines day when they are on sale :)
wonderfullymade729 at gmail dot com

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Donna R.

You don't have to spend a lot of money to have a good time. A little box of chocolates or a small bouquet with lots of kisses and hugs will suffice.

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Margie S.

Cheesy as it may be, a poem or note written from the heart is my absolute favorite Valentine's Day gift. It takes thought and care to make, it's something the recipient can refer back to anytime they need a little reminder that they are loved, and it's incredibly money-cheap.

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KW

My wife is a massage therapist - which usually means not that I get a lot of massage, but that she needs it from me! A great Valentine's Day gift that costs no money is to light some candles, put on some soft music, and spend an hour or more just soothing her tired muscles.

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Desta

My husband and I like to leave little love notes hidden around the house - the drawer in the bathroom, under the lid of the washing machine, in the cereal box. You never know where or when one will pop up. Sometimes it takes me days to stumble upon all of the notes.

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kristy

ive never gone, but white castle takes reservations for a romantic valentines day dinner. i hear they put out white tablecloths and candles and serve you at the table instead of going up to the counter. i always thought it sounded fun, and it HAS to be cheap, its white castle!

Guest's picture
FrugalNYC

Many others have mentioned as weel, buy chocolate and othe V-day related items a day after.

I have been doing handmade crafts, cards and cooking in the past. Always works out well, especially for those with young kids.

Guest's picture
beth shepherd

I always prefer handwritten homemade cards. They mean so much more from the heart. I also prefer a homecooked meal than fighting the crowds. Thank you!
tatertot374@sbcglobal.net

Guest's picture
Carla

My favourite gift for my husband is to make up little coupons that he can exchange for various "services" that he enjoys ;)

Guest's picture
gp

We try for a breakfast out (cheaper than dinner) and a long hike in the mountains. Time away from everything but nature and each other.

Guest's picture
JT

vday is a hallmark holiday. it should not be any more "special" than any other day. if you love someone, it should be shown daily.

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lizriz

I am a big fan of preparing a romantic dinner in on Valentine's Day. Cooking together is fun and stress-free and you can prepare all your romantic yummy favorites.

I also tend to go for homemade thought-that-counts type gifts for V-day. Cookies and mix CDs; that's my Valentine's MO. :)

Guest's picture
Kevin

Hello! My wife is currently in culinary school, so she has insisted on making me a very nice dinner this Valentine's day. That is usually my gift to her, but I reluctently agreed. So, this year I am doing the pampering thing and will give my wife a coupon book of various things that she can use throughout the year including back rubs, free time away from kids, etc. Her daily schedule is extremely busy, so I am sure she will love this gift! At least I hope so! :)

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Tyler

Yay! I like to make a picture video of our best photos together while music plays in the background. I always get the faucet flowing with her! +1 in my book ;-)

Guest's picture

My sweetie and I live in the frozen Midwest, but had our first date in college in the middle of February. Last Valentine's Day, he surprised me by pulling up to a hill in a local park and producing plastic sleds that he'd borrowed from the trunk of his car. The site of our first date (sledding) in college. We had the hill all to ourselves and raced down in sleds for a good hour.

This year, a number of our local state parks are doing more to get visitors in the wintertime. A park just outside our city is hosting a night-time woods walk, with the trails lit by lanterns and luminaries. There is also ice skating, a bonfire to warm up next to, and free hot cider and hot chocolate. State and national park events are often free and definitely unique ways to have a memorable evening!

Guest's picture
Nick D

I get a sitter for the kids and take her dinner and a movie - just like we did when we first started dating.

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Holly

With 5 children at home, we enjoy going out on Valentines. Because this can make for a pricey evening, we opt to pack a romantic picnic dinner and go to a small lake near us. We eat, exchange a handmade card or gift and hold hands!

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Christine

We focus on spending time together rather than giving each other gifts.

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Valerie

My children and I make heart shaped sugar cookies filled with pink buttercream frosting every year. We make cards too!

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GEoff

If you're a guy, then Valentine's day can be done very easily and very cheaply if you simply put some effort in, and effort is what your wife or girlfriend really wants anyway. A homemade meal will always be more romantic than a meal at a restaurant. Showing up with flowers is always more romantic (and less than half the cost) of having flowers delivered.

A few years ago my wife was working an earlier shift than I was, when she left for work I got the house ready. When she came home I had a trail of cheap kiddy valentines (the kind you gave out in second grade) each one said one thing I loved about her. These led down the hall to a much bigger card with a love letter inside and a dozen roses. She still has all of the cards.

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Meredith S.

Homemade love coupons.

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Sierra

We put the kids to bed early, snuggle up with some homemade cookies and watch a marathon of our favorite shows.... for as long as we can keep our minds on the TV and off each other :)

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Guest

Make a Valentine card with my computer and printer.

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Emerson

Take the time to cook a meal and have a conversation!

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Jen

I always make a card for my husband for Valentine's Day. Usually they are pretty random and funny, but he appreciates it a lot more than a store bought card.

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Susan

I absolutely refuse to spend the ridiculous prices that are charged for greeting cards! While lovely, they are most often read once, then thrown in the garbage. What my husband and I do is stop at a greeting card store or pharmacy on our way to dinner and we each choose a card that we like & show it to each other in the store. We read them, return them to the shelf and head out the door. It's become a silly little tradition that we get a kick out of!!

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Cynthia

We have never really been able to have a fancy valentines so I bake a heart shaped cake for my husband and cook a special meal we both will enjoy. My fondest memory was the first year we were married, he picked a single rose from the garden and gave to me.

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Sandy Brown

My anniversary is 3 days before valentines day. so to celebrate both, we celebrate them together. I look through the local adds, either in the newspaper or online to find restaurants that are having 2 for deals on the meals. We then either make reservations, if they let us, or call ahead seating and go out to a nice dinner for the 2 of us. We then come home either with a rented movie, or rent one on demand. Sit on the couch with lights out and cuddle and watch the movie together. It is so romantic. We have been doing this since our children grew up and moved out.

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Candie L

Even though it sounds cheesy, making homemade cards. I really get into making the homemade cards with all of the bells and whistles (lace, felt, etc.). THank you

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Crystal

My tip is what my boyfriend and I do. We write love letters to each other and cook a special dinner together. We eat dinner by romantic lighting (tea lights are cheap) and we exchange the letters after dinner.

We don't need all of the fru fru stuffed animals that will be thrown away before the next year.

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Mandy

We like to celebrate valentines day after the kids go to bed. I can buy steak & lobster a LOT cheaper than what we would pay for it in a restaurant. We send the kids to bed and celebrate just the two of us. It is also cheaper because we don't have to hire a babysitter. We also have been know to find a get-away hotel the weekend before or after. They are cheaper than on V-day (plus you might be able to find a room :-)

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Kathleen Cochran

It's a Hallmark holiday and I'd get in trouble if I spent money on this.

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Jacob LaFountaine

Cook her a good meal with love at home

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Frank

Nothing beats a good old fashioned mix cd exchange between you and your loved one.

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Michelle

Each year for Valentine's Day, we take a picture of just us together. After 17 years, we've amassed quite a portfolio of pictures. I have them in an album and I also have extra copies because one day I'm going to make us a photo collage to hang on our wall.

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Karen

I leave my loved ones little self made cards with promises of things that I will do for them for free throughout the year. It is gifts of love that I give from my heart and know that they will treasure each thing that I do for them.

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Doris R

My all time favorite gift takes a little planning, but is inexpensive and the results are truly priceless. Get a journal 1 year, 6 months, or even 2 months before the date. Everyday, write something specific that you love and/or appreciate about your loved one. It can be anything, and the entries will likely cover a lot of different areas by Valentines Day! The journal will be filled with unique, personal, intimate, and loving moments of recognition. It is a gift that is sure to be cherished, and will likely be reread over and over. So much love in one gift!

Guest's picture
Guest

was a homemade valentine from my 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Valenstein (no joke!). Just a big yellow heart with a black & white picture of a girl in a tornado (ala Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz) and a handwritten greeting in thick black felt tip. I'll turn 50 this April & I still have that valentine. (Best gift from my husband was a pair of Sorrels, but that wasn't Vtines day, so it's another story . . .)

So I vote for a homemade valentine any day!

Guest's picture
Cheap Date

We rent a new video game to keep the kids occupied then sneak off to our room with the Hershey's syrup and the can of whipped cream.
Wink wink

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jjampm

I like to make a special meal including homemade chocolates.

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Dennis

I love sending an e-card to my special loved one....very quick and personal.

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Guest

Just some alone time!

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Shelley

I think especially right now with the recession that people should stop buying into all of this propaganda. We have too many days that we are supposed to "celebrate" buy going out and spending a fortune.
The best way to spend a "special day," such as Valentine's Day would be to spend time with that special person. Make your wife or girlfriend breakfast in bed, make her a candle lit bath filled with rose petals, plan to give each other massages, bake cookies together, etc. The day will be special by just spending time together and doing special things that we don't have time to do everyday.

Guest's picture
JRG

Our anniversary is at the same time; we celebrate both with a nice dinner at an Asian restaurant and talk about our lives up to this point, and where we want to go.

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Guest

My husband looks at his valentine and leaves it on the table and I grab it and put it away for next year. It took him 3 years to realize what I did. We had a big laugh.

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Carla

I would keep Valentine's Day to a "homemade" theme using things made that are already at home.

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aud

I use a white cake mix-make 24 muffins and ice them with pink or red frosting. I put little love notes inbetween the cupcake and the frosting!

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bonnie byrne

This year I am going to help my daughter save money. I am inviting her family over for dinner with a fully decorated table and dining area. After dinner I am going to surprise her with a sleepover for the grandkids so she and her husband can go to a movie, something they love to do. They can then enjoy a quiet night to be friends and lovers. And Grandma wins aloso.

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DARLENE5001

I am preparing a chocolate fondue with angel food cake bits, strawberries, grapes and fresh pineapple to feed to my husband. This will give us the opportunity to talk and enjoy each others company as a fondue takes a while....

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Steve

My frugal Valentines Day flowers ideas are the exact same as in the article posted. I learned long ago that paying $80 for a dozen roses is just not worth it when you can get just as great a bouquet for $30 if you choose other flowers. The best tip for a heartfelt bouquet of flowers is to find a good florist and talk discuss with them ahead of time a variety of flowers that work well together. Then you can pick and choose the flowers you think your other will love.

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Paul Paquette

Valentines day doesn't have to be expensive. I always make a special dinner from scratch- usually five courses- appetizer, soup, salad, main entree and dessert. With nice flowers , soft music,a really nice bottle(s) of wine, and lots of time ( and a Saturday night this year), we should have a pleasant evening that my lovely wife and I will enjoy. We prefer eating at home in the quiet of our own home rather than a noisy,overpriced restaurant.

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Alex M

With both our busy work schedules we have to take turns cooking and it's often alone (so that we can at least eat together). So for Valentines, instead of just cooking together, we both look for a recipie that we'd normally not try (and with some expensive and exotic ingredients), and we buy really expensive wine ;). Maybe not the most frugal, but definitely spices up the "in home date"

(PS - we also each buy/make a romantic CD each to listen to all night).

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Sandra

My husband and I celebrate Valentine's Day at a really nice restaurant either a couple of days before or after the actual day. The normal restaurant prices are highly inflated on Valentine's Day.

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Kathy

My husband and I send each other Valentine's Day eCards. It's a yearly tradition and we love it.

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Laurie W.

A hand written love letter and a homemade sweet treat would be lovely and very, very romantic.

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Teresa E

We make our own cards with pictures of us from when we first met. It always brings back good memories.

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Grace Struthers

I think my idea is pretty much like the majority. Valentines is a quiet romantic time you don't want to share with a noisy restaurant.
We usually splurge on some seafood. We spend a couple of hours preparing our meal. Then we spend a couple more savoring in five short courses.
salad, soup, appetizer such as shrimp, main course and then a yummy dessert that is easy to make usually chocolate. How can you beat that for romance.

Guest's picture
Danielle

For v day this year my husband has to work. So I plan on making his favorite strawberry pie and having our little babies help make cards. Then I am going to take it to his work while he is out on lunch and surprise him with it when he gets back.

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Letty

The most expensive gifts are not what matters on Valentine's Day. It's showing your favourite person how much they mean to you. This is the day to do those things they are always wanting. It could be something as simple as going for a romantic walk, packing a picnic and going for a hike in the woods. It's about spending quality time with them and showing them how much you love them. Be creative and treat them like a queen or king!