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Valentine’s Day – a day to treasure your loved ones OR a Hallmark-inspired holiday? Love it or hate it, Valentine’s is just around the corner. Today we are talking all things love to give you some budget-friendly Valentine’s ideas for celebrating in big (and little) ways!
My thoughts on V-Day
First of all, let me say that this holiday is NOT my jam. I’ve told you guys before – gift-giving isn’t my love language. So the commercialized side of this just doesn’t speak to me. Overpriced bouquets and elaborate gifts? No, thanks. And I get worked up by cliches – I don’t want to go out for dinner just because some marketing genius decided I should. Holy – negative Nelly alert! For real though, it just isn’t my thing.
I solidly believe in showering Dan with love all year round. Every single day I write, ‘I am an exceptional wife and momma’ in my journal as a reminder to be just that; not good, not great. Exceptional. And not only one day a year! Every single day.
With all that said, yes, it is nice to have an excuse or reminder to be a bit more intentional in expressing our love. We celebrated our first Valentine’s Day together in much the same way we spent our first date – we ordered Papa John’s pizza and watched a movie. Since then I think we try to order pizza (or make our own) and we might exchange cards. But that’s about the extent of it.
February 14, 2012. We were already planning our wedding, but we were not yet engaged. As I left for work, I told Dan “Happy Valentine’s Day” and then (rudely) said: “this is not a day for proposals!!!” I was very much joking, but also I wasn’t – remember when I said I don’t like cliches??
I’m sure you can predict the outcome of this story.
I came home from work, ready to order pizza and spend the evening playing rockband. Instead, however, I was sent on a scavenger hunt, which ended in a proposal! You see, the ring he had ordered the week before, expecting it to come in weeks later, came in early. And this man does not have the ability to hold onto a surprise like that. Bless him.
Of course, I said yes – I’ve known I was going to marry this guy since the night I met him – but that doesn’t mean that I don’t raz him every year that Valentine’s Day is not for proposals.
So, even though it’s not my favourite holiday, I want to arm you with some budget-friendly Valentine’s ideas so you can celebrate your love without going broke!
Set a Budget (& clear expectations)
First things first – set a budget. Agree with your partner ahead of time how you will celebrate, and set a clear budget.
If you have the money for it, set a budget of $5000 and hope they surprise you with a week in Hawaii. It doesn’t have to be cheap; it just needs to align with your goals.
My happiness does not hinge on how much money is spent or how elaborate a gift might be. I do, however, need to manage my expectations. If we set a budget of fifty dollars and Dan spent $10 on a card and called it a day, I’d probably be disappointed. Similarly, if we have a fifty dollar budget that I stick to, and he surprises me with a getaway weekend to the spa, obviously blowing the budget, I would be delighted but also feel like a bag of crap for only spending fifty. Even though that was the amount we agreed on.
Consider your goals in this process too. When we were intensely paying off our debt, we opted to not spend anything and made homemade pizza together. This year won’t be much different because we have big saving goals in the months ahead. But we will talk about that and make a plan, so no one is disappointed come February 14th.
Basically – you need to communicate with each other. Set a budget and stick to it. And make sure you consider the other person’s love-language in your gift-giving approach.
Don’t have a budget yet? Learn how to set one up and use it like a financial rockstar here!
What’s that, you ask? What are love languages? If you aren’t familiar with the book and ideas by Dr. Gary Chapman, I highly suggest checking them out. Basically, we all give and receive love in different ways, and knowing how your partner shows and wants to feel loved can make a massive impact on your relationship.
You can take a quiz right here to find out your love language now, or make this a Valentine’s date-night conversation. We can never know enough about the person we are doing life with, and this is a great way to connect!
The five languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.
My preferred way to feel loved is through acts of service (Dan cleaning the house or filling my truck with gas) and quality time (spending time together doing literally anything).
Dan, on the other hand, prefers quality time and physical touch. So rather than cleaning the house or organizing a closet to show him I love him, I make sure we have regular date nights and try to be as present during our time together as possible. And, I make a point of rubbing his neck while we drive somewhere or holding his hand when we are sitting next to each other.
Being aware of your own and your partner’s language allows for a deeper connection and a stronger relationship.
Alright, now that we have covered how to plan for a budget-friendly Valentine’s Day mindfully, let’s give you some useful suggestions!
A fun date doesn’t have to cost a penny. Here are some creative ideas for a budget-friendly Valentine’s celebration. And budget-friendly means whatever works for your budget. You can make these as frugal or expensive as you want – see above to make sure you are on the same page!
Put away your phones.
This is not an idea for a date. But it should be the number one rule you have for any date you go on. We have the ability to be connected to anyone in the world at our fingertips. But we are losing the connection to the person sitting across the table from us. Make it a point to put your phones away during date nights. Talk to each other. Enjoy each other. I promise Instagram can wait.
Play a game together.
This can be so much fun. Have an UNO tournament or crack out Settlers of Catan. Make a point of clearing an hour in your schedule, pick up a special snack, light a candle – boom – a fun date night, in your living room!
Go for a walk or a drive.
The key here is spending time together. Going for a walk gets you moving, which is always a win, and gives you a great chance to talk and connect. A drive can be the same. You can chat, make plans for the future, reminisce about the past, generally catch up and take time to listen to each other.
Cook a meal together.
Maybe you do this every night of the year. But, if you grab take out or eat out on the regular, this could be a special way to connect. Plan to make something you will both enjoy and work as a team in the kitchen. Or, divide and conquer – they make the main course, you make appies and dessert. However you arrange it, enjoy the time together.
Recreate your first date.
The story of how we started dating spans about five days. We were at a concert, we played some rockband, we ordered pizza, we went to a Halloween party, and eventually a games night with friends. Just thinking about it makes me smile.
Think about your first date and get creative with how you can recreate it. I obviously can’t take Dan to a Dudes concert, but I can put their albums on while we play Ticket to Ride – a solid throwback to those first days.
If gift-giving is your love language (or theirs), here are some options that can cost as much or as little as your budget dictates.
I know words do not come easily to everyone. But taking a bit of time to write down how you feel about the person you love is a simple, free way to remind them what they mean to you.
Having trouble figuring out what to write? Here are some prompts that might help you:
In researching budget-friendly gift ideas for this post, I stumbled upon this gift trend. Using the five senses to inspire five different gifts, with a cute phrase on the card like “Being with you just makes sense“. Then the gifts would be something for each sense.
- Taste: their favourite candy, wine, or beer, a new hot sauce
- Smell: perfume or cologne, scented candle, essential oils
- Touch: massage gift certificate, lotion, soft blanket or socks
- Sound: a playlist of your favourite songs, concert tickets
- Sight: a photo of you together, a movie date, love letter (from above!)
These are just a few ideas for each sense – check out OhClary.com for more ideas!
I LOVE this gift because you can make it as elaborate or as simple as you want, and it is still super meaningful. I know I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not into gifts, but this is the kind of plan I can get on board with.
I feel like Valentine’s is the perfect chance to be sentimental – creating a box of memory cards is a beautiful gesture. It means that you thought about Valentine’s ahead of time, rather than relying on Amazon Prime to get your gift to your doorstep on the 13th.
Buy beautiful note cards and a nice box to put them in, and then spend some time writing out your favourite memories together or a list of reasons why you love them. You could do 365 (one for each day of the year) or 100 (a nice round number) or even one for each Valentine’s you have been together. It creates a special keepsake and a treasure of memories.
Something Sentimental or Customized
A few years ago, I turned to Etsy to order a simple metal keychain that had the words “Big damn hero” stamped into it. The words are from one of our favourite TV shows (Firefly), and I thought it was fitting because he very much IS my big damn hero. The world is full of crafty humans who can create beautifully customized pieces of art or keepsakes to show your love.
- Sound wave representations of your first dance song.
- Artsy maps to show the location you met, married, live.
- Wall hangings that have meaning to you both.
If you had asked me a few weeks ago when I started writing this post, if we would do anything special for Valentine’s, the answer would have been nope. But after researching and writing, I feel inspired to rock some of these budget-friendly tips myself!
How will you celebrate your loved one on Valentine’s Day? Hop over to Facebook to join our Reach community and share your own creative ideas!