The expectations for Valentine's Day can quickly outweigh what you can afford.
If times are tough and the budget is already stretched thin, you may worry about how special your sweetie will feel on this love-filled holiday.
This is a valid feeling since, “According to the National Retail Federation, the average consumer will spend $161.96 for Valentine's Day," says Samantha Ickes in the Times Herald-Record. This turns the holiday into a 20.7 billion dollar day in the U.S. alone.
You don't have to be a statistic though, going into debt to live up to the Valentine's Day hype. Even with the pressure to go all out on Valentine's Day, you can still give your loved one a memorable and meaningful experience without spending more than $50.
Here are some cheap Valentine's Day gift ideas that don't sacrifice the "wow" factor.
Limitations on Valentine's Day aren't always what you want to buy, but where you're shopping. Save a little money without having to say no to the usual card, candy and flowers on Valentine's Day by being a little more particular on where you buy everything.
Roses are the quintessential flower on Valentine's Day, but prices for a dozen red roses vary greatly. “The rose-buying public still encounters a wide variety in pricing — anything from $10 or under for a dozen red roses at the local corner store to $20 at the supermarket, to more than $90 at a high-end florist," says Mitch Lipka
You'll have to nix delivery as that's where a lot of the flower cost comes in, but you can hand-deliver a dozen roses purchased from stores such as Safeway or Kroger for $10. If you want a little bit more to your bouquet, scour billboards and online ads in the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day. Local florists often advertise ultra-cheap flowers there.
You may have to make a few sacrifices by going for a cheap Valentine's Day bouquet, but shorter stemmed roses, with a little less fragrance, will most likely get just as big of a smile when you surprise your sweetheart with a bright bouquet.
The most inexpensive card is one that you make yourself, but not everyone is crafty enough to pull that off. If you want to save a few dollars on your card and are OK with having a limited inventory to search through, visit your local dollar store. Their card selection may be small, but it's definitely affordable.
While there, grab a few pink, red and white balloons and a pretty glass vase to round out your Valentine's Day statement. With everything costing only a dollar, it's easy to stick to your budget while getting what you need for the holiday.
Another item synonymous with Valentine's Day is chocolates. “Next to Halloween, Valentine's Day is the best holiday for candy lovers," according to Betty Gold and Amina Lake Abdelrahman from Good Housekeeping.
A fancy box of chocolates can get pricey, but you don't have to go traditional to watch your special someone enjoy a sweet treat this February 14th. Gold and Abdelrahman offer up some alternatives to a traditional box of chocolates that bring in a flavorful and decadent treat that's also affordable, including:
Look for your partner's favorite candy in the store and see if it's packaged in a special way for Valentine's Day. The odds are good that you'll find something affordable you already know they'll really enjoy. If a box of chocolates is really what you're shooting for as part of your cheap Valentine's Day, check out the inventory at your local drugstore. Valentine's chocolate assortments from Russell Stover and Whitman's start at $6 and are often easy to find at Walgreens, CVS or even Target.
The least expensive dinner on Valentine's Day is the one you make yourself. Not only that, but going out to a restaurant on Valentine's Day can lead to a variety of other issues that make your night less than romantic, according to Maggie Hoffman from Serious Eats.
Service can suffer on Valentine's Day as wait staff struggles with having more tables to cover. Four and eight-top tables are often broken up so the restaurant has more two-tops to seat couples, which creates confusion. There's also the potential issue of the prix fixe menu many places offer. These set menus give you more food but focus on items made with fewer ingredients or ones that simply use up whatever is leftover in the walk-in. You may go somewhere intending to order your favorite menu item only to be told it's not available that specific night.
Save yourself the headache and the cost of a dinner out on Valentine's Day and stay in to cook your partner a lovely meal yourself. They'll appreciate the effort you put into slaving over a hot stove or oven just for them. Create a full meal by planning an appetizer, main course and dessert. Work within your culinary skillset and don't try anything too adventurous. You don't want to end up with a kitchen full of smoke because you've accidentally burned dinner. Whatever you prepare, even if most of it comes from the frozen section of the grocery, will be appreciated because of the thought you put into it.
Where you celebrate Valentine's Day can have just as much impact on the romance level as what you do and the gift you give. Parks create a free and perfect backdrop for a romantic, evening walk. Throw in a little hike, and find the perfect spot to watch the sunset together. Carry a picnic dinner with you and some flameless candles, and you've got a night to remember with free ambiance. Create a romantic playlist on your phone or stock it with your sweetie's favorite love songs to complete the mood for a night under the stars.
If the weather makes it impossible to take your night outside, keep the cost low by celebrating at home. Scatter rose petals along the floor to lead your love to a candlelit dinner followed by a cozy cuddle on the couch to watch a romantic movie. Toss on a song and slow dance in the privacy of your own home, for as long you want, without it costing you an extra dime.
The last thing to remember when thinking of ways to have a cheap Valentine's Day is that the holiday doesn't have to be about flowers, chocolates and a lavish meal. Have a romantic date night, or day-date, full of hand-holding and sweet moments instead of large bouquets of expensive flowers and meals at restaurants that require a tie. Treat your sweetheart to an experience you'll both enjoy, that's guaranteed to cost less than all the traditional V-Day hullabaloo. Consider any of these activities instead:
Whatever you do, make it a no-cellphone date so you can truly focus on being with each other and sharing the experience. It will keep the romantic vibe going.
Money doesn't make Valentine's Day, intention does. What you do for your special someone, no matter the cost, is what's important and what creates a memorable moment for the two of you.
Whether you can spend hundreds of dollars or frantically pull together 50 bucks, with these cheap Valentine's Day ideas you can have a special holiday with your special someone.