A frugal Valentine’s Day is possible, and much more attainable than a frugal Christmas. If you have to suffer through (or enjoy) the holiday, you might as well be sensible about it.
Valentine’s Day seems to be one of the more divisive holidays; you either love it or hate it. That goes for children and adults alike.
In school, Valentine’s Day was always nerve-wracking and just too much pressure for me. As a married adult, my attitude is more “who gives a crap” and I’m fortunate that my husband feels much the same. I can only imagine it’s the most annoying and/or depressing holiday for single people.
The most frugal Valentine’s Day option: don’t celebrate
I’m not really a holiday person. We celebrate in a much more low-key manner than some other families I know, which is overall a cheaper approach. Before you feel bad for my kids, they do get gifts and special meals, but I only put up a few decorations and really try to be minimalist about the number of gifts I purchase.
For Valentine’s Day specifically, my husband and I have slowly decreased the amount of effort we expend over the years. At one point we bought gifts and chocolates and ate a nice dinner out.
One year, when he was exhausted from student teaching and working, we went out on February 14th. The restaurant was packed and loud enough that we could barely hear each other. The only available reservation was later in the evening, after a long day. These factors all resulted in him nodding off multiple times during the meal (don’t worry, we laugh about it now).
Today, our gift-giving is limited to exchanging cards with sweet sentiments written inside. I previously purchased a bunch of blank cards, so it’s a pretty cheap way to acknowledge our feelings for each other. He’s also the type to show his love through actions, so I appreciate actually seeing his feelings written down more than I would like a trinket.
Cook a special meal together
Buying a couple of steaks, a bottle of wine, and some potatoes to bake will absolutely be less expensive than dinner out on one of the busiest nights of the year. In addition to saving some money on food, you don’t have to worry about paying a babysitter, parking, or tipping a server.
You also have a chance to spend quality time with your partner during the preparation, eating, and clean up. You’ll be able to actually hear each other and can eat at a convenient time. If you want, you can dress up and look nice… or wear comfy sweats and eat on the couch.
Strawberries may also be on sale during this time period. Use this sweet fruit to make a special dessert.
Customize your frugal Valentine’s Day meal so you both can eat and drink your favorites.
Eat out on a different day
Restaurants often have special menus for Valentine’s Day, and those often have a “special” price. Avoid the crowds and the inflated prices by eating out on a different day.
You’ll also have an easier time of getting a reservation and probably a babysitter if needed. Choosing an alternate day to venture out of your house will also reduce the number of people you come into contact with.
Agree to celebrate your frugal Valentine’s Day on February 15
Definitely discuss this with your significant other beforehand. Agreeing to celebrate a day later will allow you to buy those overpriced chocolates and flowers at a steep discount on the 15th.
You may even be able to score a deal on some jewelry or stuffed animals.
Give free gifts
The most meaningful gift you can give may be free. If your significant other is a mom, there’s a 95% chance she really just wants a quiet, isolated break. Trust me on that one.
Other free valentine gift ideas:
- Again, a break from parenting
- Offer to do a disliked chore for a month
- Give a massage
- Take over child care during a night out with friends
- An extra day of hunting during season (suggested in my husband’s honor)
- Assume duties beyond your usual for a week or a month
- Do a few overdue tasks on your honey-do list
- Put together a spa day for two – massages, facials, a soak in the hot tub
- Watch a movie together (bonus points if it’s a genre you don’t usually agree to watch)
- Go old school and put together a special mixtape… or Spotify playlist
- Recreate your first date or proposal
- Bake or cook something that is special to the two of you or that requires more effort than you’re usually willing to put into a dish
- Write down your feelings about your love
Include your kids too
Extend your frugal Valentine’s Day to your children by spending the first half of February writing a special note each day. Called a Valentine heart attack, you post a paper heart to your child’s door each day from February 1 to 14. The hearts each have a special note to your child, describing what you love about them or their good qualities.
This cute idea really comes from the heart and will be meaningful to your child beyond February. You could even take a photo of their door on Valentine’s Day to commemorate the entire experience.
If your child has to bring holiday cards to school, you can usually find some fairly cheap ones by shopping around. Personalize them by including a small candy or note from your child to the recipient.
I encourage you to not give cheap junk trinkets with the cards. They’ll just end up in the landfill sooner rather than later. I’m a big fan of a minimal approach to gift-giving, especially when you’re not close to the recipient.
Make the holiday whatever you want it to be. Let it represent your relationship, whether it’s fancy or laid back. Expensive gifts don’t represent your feelings. Sometimes, spending money can even take away from the sincerity of the sentiment.