In the U.S, Valentine’s day is a big deal. According to the National Retail Federation, 55% of Americans celebrate February 14th, and they spend an average of just over $145.
Young love among members of the Millennial and Gen Z generations account for most of this spending, while older Americans often opt for low-key, more economical ways to express their love for those around them – human or four-legged.
Here are few ideas for celebrating love that won’t put you too far over your budget.
Have a Gourmet Dinner – At Home
Rather than trying for a hard-to-get reservation at a swanky restaurant on Valentine’s day, consider a gourmet meal at home. With just a little planning you can have a pretty spectacular meal in the comfort of your home, and for a lot less.
If you’re already a cook, you’ll know what to do. If you’re not, there are many options for pre-made meals at local grocery stores and markets, as well as popular meal services such as Hello Fresh and Plated.
To keep the day special, save the dishwashing for the fifteenth.
Go Out for a Gourmet Dessert
If you want to get out of the house for a Valentine’s meal (dessert is a meal, right?), you can save a ton of money by having dinner at home and then splurging on a decadent dessert out.
Head to your favorite ice cream shop, cupcake shop, or even get together with friends for dessert. Everyone can bring their own favorite to share. Personally, here in Texas, we like Marble Slab. What’s your favorite dessert venue?
Celebrate on the Shoulder Days
It can be expensive to celebrate on exactly February 14th with everything more expensive not to mention just plain busy. So, if you have the time it can pay off (in the form of savings) to celebrate the day before or the day after. Waiting until the fifteenth may give you the restaurant to yourself or help you to avoid the serious markups on flowers, hotels, and dining out.
Send a Special Valentine
Here’s a special tradition that is catching on. Every year, the town of Loveland, Colorado offers a valentine re-mailing service. If you send your special valentine card in an outer envelope to the city, they will add a personalized message and special stamp from the “Sweetheart City.”
They will then mail the letter to your intended. It’s a novel way to celebrate the day, create a keepsake, and help seniors and others who spend the time to make your card special. The tradition has been going on for over 70 years and cards and letters come from every state as well as over 110 countries to be re-mailed.
Search for Sales for the Gift
Everyone knows that the expensive dinner is just half of the traditional Valentine’s Day celebration. The other half is the gift that confesses your undying love for your partner – or at least confesses you like them.
This very special gift can be extremely expensive if you don’t know where to shop. Instead of going to a brand name store like Michael Kors or Gucci, hit up Amazon or even Etsy for a more custom gift.
Plan an Outdoor Activity
If you aren’t the lovey-dovey type of couple, but still don’t want to break the bank on your celebration, go to a putt-putt course or go-kart track. Both of these outdoor activities are usually very inexpensive.
However, what they lack in pricey costs, they make up for in extreme fun. You are your bae are bound to have loads of fun with one of these activities. Remember, all that matters is that you’re getting to spend time together, it doesn’t truly matter how you do it.
Have a Valentine’s Day Movie Marathon
Instead of fighting the crowds, fill up your Netflix queue with movies you’ve been meaning to watch and then settle in with your sweetheart or favorite pet for a movie marathon. You don’t have to stick to romantic comedies. Love is to be found everywhere. Sometimes, even in horror movies!
There are plenty of ways to celebrate love on St. Valentine’s Day that won’t stretch your budget. After all, the most important thing is to acknowledge your love and caring for those around you, not how much you spend.