You can express your affection without spending a fortune. I'm not saying you have to bail out, otherwise that thoughtfulness usually beats extravagance. The home-cooked dinner, the fun activity, was planned because you love doing things together.
Below I've made some suggestions for the frugal-minded Valentine's Day expenditures.
Opt for outings
It's a common refrain these days are more memorable than physical things. Indeed, what's the fate in a week or the painting class?
That's why I'm a strong proponent of planning an outing. It shows you some thought into the occasion. It gives you an activity to do together. And it creates memories ̵
Here are a few ideas, along with some estimated costs:
- Go geocaching: Free
- Take a painting class: $ 35-40 per person (but check Groupon for deals)  Do an escape room: $ 25-35 per person
- Go ax-throwing: $ 20-35 per person
- See a movie: $ 8-12 per person (see below for a deal)
Remember, it's not critical that you're doing your Valentine's Day proper (which is a Thursday this year, and therefore not particularly accommodating to work schedules). But you can announce the gift of the activity – and, hey, anticipation is the fun.
I'll wait that while the movie option is probably a little boring, it's still two hours in the dark with your beloved. You can mix it up by seeing a classic or art-house movie, something out of the ordinary. Just remember, again: Pick something they want to see, not something at the top of your list.
Sinemia Classic – 1 Movie Day Per Month for Two: $ 7.99
If you both love movies here's a way to guarantee a monthly date-and save money in the process. Sinemia's most affordable plan will cost you $ 8 (say $ 4 per person), or bump up to the 3-movie-per-month plan for $ 16. A newly added feature lets you roll over one unused ticket per month.
Save on flowers
How important are flowers on Valentine's Day? Probably a lot less than you think. I recently conducted a Twitter poll and less than 10 percent of respondents said flowers were "fully expected." The vast majority were "not essential, but nice" and "not expected / wanted." But – important asterisk! – I have no idea what the gender breakdown on my respondents was.
That's good news, because flower prices are only going to increase between now and Valentine's Day. A bouquet of roses that costs $ 35 in early January will quickly jump to $ 45-50 – maybe higher, depending on where you buy.
Translation: skip the flowers. Or, if you like the symbolism of the gesture, a single rose will do just fine. Consider this response from @chieflittletoes to the aforementioned poll:
I hate wasting money on overpriced roses. [My husband] still wants to spoil [me] so he sends me pics of bouquets he would buy if I let him. All the thought and romance, none of the wasted money. Plus I usually do these bouquets this way, in all the colors. One rose, if you HAVE to buy, is plenty!
Still feel like nothing beats flowers? $ 196
Get a $ 50 Valentine's Day flower arrangement for $ 30
This deal is under $ 50, some priced a little above , Either way, you stand to save $ 20. Feb. 14 delivery.
Save on dinner
If you've already booked a table for Valentine's Day, well, good luck. But you know what's better than dining at a crowded, overpriced restaurant? A home-cooked meal at home. (Psst: You're on cleanup duty as well.)
Are you a klutz in the kitchen? Consider some of the amazing things you can accomplish with instant pot (or similar pressure-cooker), which allows even non-chefs to quickly and easily.
First, learn. Then check out this roundup of a few of which consist of full meals.
Now for dessert. You simply can not beat the classic chocolate-dipped strawberries – and they're incredibly easy (and cheap) to make at home. Just wash and dry some berries, melt some chocolate chips on the stove or in the microwave, then dip.
Hit up Google or YouTube if you need more help, but that's really all there is to it.
Want to give the gift of less cooking over an extended period? Consider a mail-order meal service, one that can partially or even fully cook gourmet dinners to your door. For example, just in time for Valentine's Day, Pleased is offering first-time subscribers free desserts with promo code BEMINE .
See it at Plated
That's just one possibility; check out CNET's full roster offor others. Just remember, this is something of a commitment – you can cancel later, but you're completing to 2, 3 or 4 nights a week of delivered meals, at least in the short term.
The Best Valentine's Day Movies.
Save on gifts
Ah, the eternal question: What's an appropriate valentine's day gift? If you're thinking tech gear does not seem very romantic, well, you're not wrong. Bluetooth speaker or, horrors, a fitbit.
That said, how about something that's practical, pretty and seen every day? I'm thinking about a new phone case, one with a meaningful design: a custom photo, decorative floral pattern or favorite sports team logo. It's a nice option for people who like to change their time, and it's definitely not crazy-expensive.
At Velvet Caviar, for example, you can choose from a wide assortment of unique and decorative phone cases, and score 25 percent off website and free shipping with promo code CNET .
See it at Velvet Caviar
I'm a big fan of Tile Trackers, which are insanely useful and very affordable. The Tile Mate, for example, runs just $ 25 . It attaches to a keychain, purse or the like, then helps misplaced phones. It works in reverse, too, meaning a phone can help find a misplaced keychain, purse or the like.
See it at Tile
Again, this is not a romantic gift, but it's all in how you frame it. "I know how frustrating it is when things go missing," you say, "And a guy I know the Tile things are awesome." Most importantly, these are things that are part of a larger gift experience – these should be the equivalent of a stocking stuffer, not the main gift!
I'm not going to go any further with gift ideas because I think there's a better way to spend your money.
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