Enjoy Valentine’s Day on a Budget

Whether you see Valentine’s Day as a nice occasion to celebrate two people’s love, or an artificially invented holiday for paper-heart manufacturers, many people go out of their way to celebrate. But celebrating doesn’t mean you have to empty your wallet, nor does it mean you have to forgo the holiday all together. Here are few simple tips to save on typical Valentine’s Day expenses, while still creating a memorable day for your loved one.

Skip The Roses

While the language of roses elicits romance, mid-February is the precisely wrong time to pick up a bouquet of them.

With the high demand of deep red roses on Valentine’s Day and the seasonality of the flower (roses are in season in summer, not winter), roses are typically very expensive.

If your significant other is a flower person, but you’re trying to be a little more conscientious of your spending, there are alternatives. Try searching online for lists of flowers that bloom in the winter.

Carnations are a great standby choice, and can be bought in bulk for a low price. For those lovebirds aiming to be a bit more botanically adventurous, some varieties of potted lilies and orchids are a novel pairing with a Whitman’s sampler, as are rose geraniums, which convey their own particular sense of the romantic.

And if you can’t find a cold weather alternative to roses that matches your partner’s tastes, maybe try a small plant. One added benefit to forgoing the thorny long stems, is that potted plants will have a much longer shelf life, adding longevity to your token of affection.

Prepare for dinner

Another Valentine’s Day staple is the romantic dinner. Obviously, preparing a homemade meal is the more cost-effective option compared to shelling out a couple hundred dollars for a fancy dining experience. However, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about your culinary seduction.

If you want to make a michelin-caliber meal at home, planning ahead is the key.

Make sure you know what you are preparing and where to find your ingredients well beforehand. Try to find recipes on par with your cooking experience, but that also emphasize making as much of the meal from scratch as possible, particularly with broths and stocks. Buying seasonal whole foods will help minimize your expenses and enhance the flavor of your dishes.

But, if you are an absolute mess behind a range, or if your partner insists on dining out, you could check out Open Table to survey less time-intensive Valentine’s eating options by price and make a late reservation. Zebit Market also sells dozens of high-end and quick service restaurant eCertificates that can be bought and paid over time, interest-free.

Explore your city and your history

If you plan on making a full day of February 14, consider dedicating the time to explore some of the thriftier destinations around your home.

Museums are always a cheap way to spend some time, and most public museums have free days or discounted access for locals. On the other hand, you can also plan stops at places that are important to you as individuals. Maybe swing by the same ice rink you learned to play hockey for some open ice time. Or let your partner show you the theater she worked during college. It could be fun to delve into each of your respective histories as you make new memories there together.

Relax

Just because the date has its own name doesn’t mean Valentine’s Day has to be a feast for the senses to be a success. If you ask most people, the best gift to receive year-round is the opportunity to relax and do nothing.

To really cut down on costs this February 14, while still making it a memorable experience for your loved one, invest time and effort in unloading some of his or her daily burdens. Whether by helping with some chores, sharing a hobby or pastime, or simply shutting out the world and commiserating for an evening. These things don’t cost a dime and strengthens a relationship more than a well prepared meal or a pricey gift ever could, as nice as those things can be.