16 Basically Free Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day

Annabel Iwegbue
·9 min read

From Cosmopolitan

For even the most hopeless romantics, the Valentine’s Day pressure on our wallets can be a bit much. As much as we’d all love to express our love with a couples vacay to Paris, it may not be realistic, (maybe next year?) Sure, 'love is the greatest gift' or whatever, but Valentine's Day can be ALL about the effort. I mean how could we POSSIBLY show someone how much we care without hiring Kenny G for a personal serenade — à la Yeezy for Kim K??

Last year, Valentine’s Day spending in the U.S. hit a record total of 20.7 BILLION, (yes billion! With a b!), according to the National Retail Foundation. Most Americans spent an average of $93.14 on their significant others, with the most popular expenses being jewelry and fancy dinners. So while Kay Jewelers must be jumping for joy this time of year, our pockets might not be prepared.

But fear not! A cheap Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a lame one! Until you hit the lotto and book Kenny G., you can get crafty with a DIY gift, plan a grand (but cheap) romantic gesture, or shower them in their favorite junk food. Here, we've got plenty of cute ideas that’ll make your boo feel special and leave you with enough money to pay rent.

1. Decorate a mug.

Grab some oil-based sharpies and add their name, your anniversary date, or an inside joke to their fave mug (or a new one!). To make your message permanent, bake the mug in the oven at 250° for 2 hours. Then, they'll have a one-of-a-kind piece that will always remind them of you. Awwww.

2. Set up a cheap feast.

Everyone loves a good comfort snack, so how about assembling an array of all your partner's go-to junk foods? Maybe its McDonalds’s fries, or Oreos, anything to show you know makes them happy.

3. Re-write a song's lyrics as an ode to your lovah.

Even if you're no Mariah, it's a super creative way to let someone know what they mean to you. It can also be something super adorable to laugh at together, especially if your voice isn't getting you a record deal anytime soon.

4. Cover the room with love note-filled balloons.

Cut some paper into little slivers and write down all the things you love about your lovah. Then fill empty balloons with as many rolled-up notes as you want. Blow them up and spread 'em all over the room. At first glance, the balloons will just look like V-Day decorations, but once the balloons get popped your little love-note surprises will be there waiting.

5. Bundle up with blankets and go watch the sun set.

It might be chilly outside, but nothing is more romantic than cuddling up in front of a stellar view.

6. Build a cozy blanket fort for an all-day movie marathon.

Maybe you've forgotten how fun these are to make and hang out in. Set up yours in front of the TV, make some popcorn, and cuddle up to watch movies for as long as you want.

7. Cover their mirror with sweet Post-It notes.

List all the things you love about them on pretty notes. Then, if you really wanna go for it, stick them in a heart shape.

8. Turn off all lights for a candlelit night.

What's more romantic than candles? Whether you have plans to cook a nice meal, watch a movie, or just hang out, do so with some mood lighting. They'll make the room feel hella romantic.

9. Surprise them with breakfast in bed.

No need to spend hours making an elaborate meal. Raid your pantry and fridge to whip up something easy (scrambled eggs are always good). Bonus points for any food you can make into a heart shape. Cheesy? Yes? SO CUTE? Also yes.

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First of All – Happy Valentine’s Day! Secondly, please don’t let Valentine ’s Day be one of only handful of times you go on a date with your significant other. Quality, focused time with one another strengthens your relationship and allows you to grow closer to your partner in more ways than one. A year ago my husband and I went to a weekend conference and on one of the nights all of the couples were asked to go on a date. My husband and I went to Victoria’s in Appleton and we had the best time. We ate too much food, drank too much wine, and after a night of laughter we realized that since becoming pregnant and having a baby it has been over a year since we had been on a date. I should also add that I had just finished nursing prior to this weekend so my tolerance level for any type of alcohol was about half a glass and I was a goner. We realized our focus had shifted from our marriage because of the events that happened in our life and we left that weekend dedicated to prioritizing each other even with having a newborn and one of the ways we are doing that is through weekly date nights. Yes, Weekly. Every other week we get a sitter so we can get out of the house, just the two of us, and the other weeks we stay home but our kids know it is date night. Except the toddler, he just doesn’t get it yet. We’ve recommitted ourselves to each other and our focus was realigned but in the year that we’ve been doing this sometimes are date nights are just a quick dinner and then we are back into survival mode at home so to start our next year of dating off right we now have a date night jar. Every week we pick one and whatever it says we do it. So to join me in spicing up date nights and head over to LittleOakMarketplace.com to download your free date night ideas and who knows, maybe this will relight the spark that you forgot you had.

A post shared by Little Oak Marketplace (@littleoakmarketplace) on Feb 14, 2019 at 4:27am PST

10. Fill a jar with future date-night ideas.

Brainstorm a bunch of ideas, write them down, and pull one from the jar whenever you're all like, "So...whataya wanna do tonight?."

11. Make a "Valen-timeline."

Highlight all of your favorite past moments together. Print out photos you love from moments you've shared, and jot down the details of each event on the back. Try to remember as much as you can, so you both can look back on all the good times. Hang them in order on (you know, like a timeline) them to find.

12. Make a collage.

Grab a picture frame, poster board, or a canvas, and cover it with things like photos and ticket stubs from concerts or movies you saw together. Seal the pieces to the canvas with Mod Podge.

13. Plan a scavenger hunt.

You can't celebrate V-Day without some kind of cheesy poetry, so turn your clues into little love poems and hide them at each spot for them to find.

14. Give the gift of handmade love coupons.

In a move that Joseph Tribbiani would appreciate: Come up with a list of inexpensive things your guy/girl would love (a massage, a movie night). Make little coupons they can redeem whenever.

15. Hide little notes all around.

You know how good it feels to find a dollar in your pocket, so imagine how sweet it would be to find random love-note surprises everywhere.

16. Wake up early to tackle their to-do list.

Little acts of kindness go a long way, and you'll have extra time to hang out and do fun things.

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