Saturday, February 11, 2012

All You Need is Love? Valentine’s Day for Cheap

Across the county, wallets everywhere are weeping.
Photo by zirconicusso

Here it is, that special time of year when you can’t turn on the TV without a massive guilt-trip and a plea to buy shiny little chunks of stone that will set you back about a week’s salary.  Oh, yes, it’s Valentine’s Day.

I know, I know.  It’s a made-up Hallmark holiday designed to sell cards, flowers, cutesy stuffed animals, and jewelry, blah, blah, blah.  I’m not going to get involved in that argument, and I’m not going to write a dissertation on the origins of Valentine’s Day.  Let’s just leave it at this – it’s part of our cultural, you’ve been hearing about practically since Christmas, and really, what’s wrong with taking a day to shower your loved one with (more than your usual) love and affection?  I can get behind that.

The thing is, there’s a lot of pressure to spend a small fortune just to let someone you know you care.  Not necessary.  Gavin and I brainstormed a few ideas for cheap ways to celebrate each other (not the day, each other), and we thought we’d share a few of those with you:
  •  Do you really need flowers?  Nurseries tend to hike up their prices right before the big day, knowing that plenty of poor schmucks will have few options but to pay their exorbitant prices.  Living in the Northwest, you can’t exactly go raid someone’s garden for some nice flowers this time of year (although I am hearing reports of early daffodils…).  If you can’t afford to spend a bundle on the holiday, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to forgo flowers. 
  • What about jewelry?  Okay, I’m just not even going to go there.  Forget the jewelry.  Let’s be realistic, please.
  • Cards are nice, but spending $5 on a piece of paper with a sweet little sentiment on it seems an easy way out, but really, you could do plenty more with that five bucks. 

So what should we do? 
  •  Fix a nice meal for your sweetie.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or involve tenderloin.  Try out our chicken and potatoes recipe for a meal that looks pretty and tastes great but doesn’t cost a fortune.  Light candles, use the “nice” dishes, tablecloth and napkins.
  • Plan an inexpensive date night.  If you have kids, put in a movie and pop some popcorn after they go to bed.  Let that old “Valentine’s Day Magic” do its thing.
  • Pick a day after Valentine’s Day.  All the prices will have gone back down and you stand a chance of getting a good deal if you are able to splurge a little on a night out.
  • Take some time during the day (if you are both lucky enough to have it off) and just go for a walk in a nice location, if the weather permits. 
  • Set a small budget for each of you (maybe $5) and get each other a surprise.  Cards are off-limits!  Be creative.
What inexpensive ways do you find to spoil your sweetie during February?

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