Valentine’s Day on a Budget

Fun, Easy, and Incredibly Cheap Ways to Make

Your Sweetheart Feel Special on Valentine’s Day

Just because the economy is in a slump doesn’t mean that you can’t have a memorable Valentine’s Day. With a little creativity, you can come up with romantic ideas that’ll make your sweetheart feel special—without straining your budget.

Think how much fun it would be if you came up with ideas that are unique to your relationship.

Here are some suggestions to jumpstart your creativity:

Celebrate on Valentine’s Eve. A much cheaper alternative to dining out on Valentine’s Day is dining out on Valentine’s Eve. You can take advantage of the good food and ambiance of your favorite restaurant at a price that’s much less than the typical Valentine’s Day packages. Then you can earmark what you save for another date night. A double celebration!

Since this year’s Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday, why not an outdoor picnic-for-two the Sunday before? (Assuming, of course, that the weather cooperates.) Instead of heading to the nearest park, see if you have other options that would be just as romantic. A tree house in your backyard? A snow-covered lawn on a sunny day? The roof of your apartment building? (Or office building–but you probably have to pull some strings.)

You’re thinking: it’s just not the same as celebrating on the exact day. But think of Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve—the celebrations on these occasions only enhance the meaning of the holidays they represent.

Involve the children in the celebration. Who says you can’t have a perfect Valentine’s Day when young children are around?

Instead of hiring a babysitter for the evening, how about making the children part of the celebration?  Create a “mission” for them—to make Mommy and Daddy’s Valentine’s dinner the most romantic ever.

Tell them that this year you’ve decided to go to [your family name] restaurant  (Smith Bistro, for example). In this restaurant, the older children are the chefs, and the younger children are the servers. To add to the excitement of their “mission,” give them a free hand in planning the entire dinner—the menu, the table setting, the music, the décor. A unique suggestion is for them to wear chef hats, aprons and server uniforms made from newspapers or colored paper.

Your part is to get dressed up just as you would if you were going to a fancy restaurant. Make sure you sprinkle lots of appreciative comments during dinner! Not only will your children cherish the memory, but you can bet that their own children and their children’s children will hear about this evening.

Create a romantic indoor picnic. Don’t forget that indoor picnics can be just as romantic. Spread out a bright red blanket on the den or a covered patio. Arrange pillows with your favorite colors on top. Add wine, cheese, finger foods, and fruit. Top it with mood music, and voila! A memorable evening is in the making.

Prepare Valentine’s dinner together.  If you both like to cook, make two gourmet meals—each other’s favorite. From planning the menu to making the list to grocery-shopping—togetherness is the key. When you get home from the grocery, open the first bottle of wine (you got two, right?). Have a few sips as you do the chopping and the laughing, and the peeling, and the kissing.

Add a written message to your gift. Whether you choose to commemorate the occasion with a gift, a card, or both, add words of love in writing. You can write a sentence or two at the bottom of the card or attach a short note to the gift. That gesture alone would be appreciated not just that evening, but throughout your life together. It may turn out to be treasured even more than the gift!

Renew your commitment.  Return to the place that’s been most meaningful to both of you and renew your commitment to each other. It can be where you first met, had your first date, or first kiss, or where you got married. If it’s too far, find some place similar. For example, a church that’s a short drive to the country may remind you of the church where you got married, 500 miles away.

You don’t need a special ceremony for this occasion, nor witnesses. It can be just the two of you, expressing once more in words the love that has lived in your heart throughout your blissful time together.

Your Valentine’s Day can be inexpensive and still be memorable. After all, isn’t the sole purpose of this day to create more magical moments in your relationship? And those moments– as no doubt you’ve already discovered– are priceless!

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