Valentine’s Day is coming up, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to impress your special someone.
The National Retail Federation estimates that the average consumer will spend $196.31 on Valentine’s Day-related purchases in 2020. That’s 21% higher than in 2019, while overall spending is expected to reach $27.4 billion — 32% higher than last year’s record.
For context, in January 2020, my wife and I each spent $209.19 on groceries for the entire month.
Valentine’s Day can feel like a high-pressure holiday where you have to spend a lot to show your love for your partners. Breaking the budget isn’t romantic, though — it’s stress-inducing, which in turn can be tough on your relationship. If you’re partnered up and are looking to celebrate your love, there are plenty of ways to make the day special while cutting out the stress and sticking to your budget.
Here are 6 tips to do just that.
Budget-Friendly Valentine’s Day Ideas
1. Get creative
Instead of going for a bouquet of red roses and some jewelry, make your person something, whether it’s a painting, a poem, a song, a playlist, or another type of gift.
Getting creative and figuring out how to show the people you love that you really understand them and put thought into how you wanted to spend the day with them is worth way more than anything you can buy.
2. Get outside
If you and your partner(s) like outdoors stuff (and live somewhere where it isn’t 14 degrees on Valentine’s Day), spending time together in nature is a great way to spend quality time with each other. Whether it’s going for a hike, packing up a picnic for the park, planning to try out a new bike trail, or cozying up on the beach, you can’t go wrong.
Each person can plan a map of places to go see to keep it surprising and exciting. Pack up some sandwiches and enjoy time spent together, hidden away from capitalism’s pink Valentine’s Day spending glow.
If you do live somewhere where it’s cold in February, think about activities you might enjoy doing that are inside, like visiting a rock climbing gym or going to a trampoline park. They’re not free (and sometimes can actually be quite expensive) but you can often find great deals on Groupon for those places.
3. Plan intentionally
Rather than doing the whole night out, pick one part of the night to do out and plan to have the rest of the date at home.
Maybe you have drinks out at that rooftop bar you’ve been wanting to try, then cook a special dinner at home. Or maybe you share a bottle of wine while you cook dinner at home and then go out for your favorite dessert.
4. Stay in entirely
Having a night in can feel just as special, especially if your schedules are often jam-packed with activities. Make sure you take the time to actually plan what you want to do so that your romantic night in isn’t the same as every other night at home (and turn your phones to do not disturb mode).
Pick a new recipe to cook together, light some candles over dinner, and make a special playlist for the occasion. You can watch a movie you’ve both been wanting to see or have a little friendly competition over some board games. Or, just head to bed early — I’m sure you can find something to do there.
If you and your significant other have busy lives, a quiet night in might be the perfect way to connect.
5. Make a handmade card
Instead of paying $6 for a greeting card with a paper cutout heart that sings James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful, write a sweet note or letter. It’s a lot more thoughtful and it’s free.
If you’re into DIY projects, you can go to Michael’s and get single sheets of fancy paper to write on, but regular lined paper or kraft paper will do just fine, too. I wrote Cassie a note on wrapping paper for a birthday present a couple of years ago and she still keeps it on her bedside table.
6. Delay your celebration
Of course, you can always opt-out of Valentine’s Day on the 14th and plan to celebrate a few days later. If you or your partner work in the service industry, this also gives you the benefit of being able to work the busier (and hopefully high-tipping) Valentine’s Day shifts, while still being able to celebrate together later.
Choose a weekend day to go out for breakfast or coffee (which will be much less expensive than dinner out). Plus, you’ll get the sweet benefit of on-sale candy.
If you think Valentine’s Day is just another stupid holiday created by the greedy greeting card companies, congratulations on your wildly original hot take. It’s true that Valentine’s Day comes with a lot of commercial trappings, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth celebrating in your own way.
Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to celebrate someone you love and spend a little more intentional time together. And I feel like we can never have too much of that.
You don’t need to fall into the capitalistic trappings that surround the holiday to enjoy and celebrate it. In fact, I’d say you’ll probably enjoy it a whole lot more when you get to put the money you would have otherwise maybe spent towards building a stronger future together.
And all of these tips go out to my single friends as well. Whether you’re planning a day of self-love or celebrating the love of your friends, you can still show yourself some love while not straining your budget.