Just because the economy is in the dumps doesn’t mean your spirits have to be on V-Day. There’s lots of great ways to celebrate your relationship without buying into all the myths of conspicuous consumption. At the same time, classic romantic gestures can be nice and sweet, as long as there’s more feeling than Franklins behind them. Here’s a guide to some last-minute, creative, frugal and even free ways to say “I love you.” (Spoiler alert: the best day to celebrate February 14… is February 15! It’s like getting Valentine’s Day half-off!)
1. SAY IT WITH A (FREE) SONG
Amazon is giving away a free $2 worth of MP3s. So find the song you guys played over and over on that big road trip and send it!
2. EVERYBODY LIKES THOSE DARN FLOWERS
If you’ve waited until this long to put your flower order in, you’re probably out of luck as far as ordering flowers for delivery on Valentine’s Day goes. You can order them for Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Tuesday instead. And who says the only kind of flower it can be is roses? Tulips, oriental lilies and carnations are totally beautiful, appropriate, and affordable.
Save even more when ordering online by using some coupon codes:
- 15% off 1800flowers.com with code couponcabin15
- 15% off ProFlowers.com with coupcab15
- 20% off FTD with this link.
For more coupon codes, search at RetailMeNot.com.
Another thing to do is try hitting your local bodega or grocer very early on the morning Valentine’s and pick up flowers before the crowds hit and deliver them yourself. But be careful you don’t get burned; When I was a hapless 7th grader buying roses for the first time — on the morning of Valentine’s, natch — I got suckered into buying what the florist told me were “Black Beauty” roses. He told me the dark coloration was just how this kind of exotic rose looked. I later learned through the girl grapevine two things: 1) I had given my girlfriend a bunch of dead roses and 2) she was no longer my girlfriend. So make sure whatever you get is fresh and will make it through the day!
3. LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE
We all know the candy industry is a bit of a scam. Considering the raw cost of ingredients, that’s some pretty huge markup! Turns out that making your own chocolates and sweets isn’t that hard and it’s really fun. And if you waited until now to start getting your Valentine’s gift together, it’s the perfect thing to do early on Saturday morning. Epicurious has some great recipies for homemade sweets, like Coffee Chocolate Truffle Kisses, White-Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries with Citrus Sugar, or Bittersweet Chocolate and Walnut Fudge.
4. OH, JEWELRY…
Despite what the ads say, shiny bangles are not magic amulets that will instantly make your beloved collapse into your arms. So make sure you can afford it, your lover actually will want and appreciate the token, and that you don’t pay out the nose. For starters, there’s more to jewelry than just diamonds. Black pearl earrings are lovely and don’t cost much, for example. A good place to hit up for jewelry that won’t break the bank or your heart is bluenile.com. Thrift stores are treasure troves of unique and funky vintage jewelry. So too are consignment shops.
5. VALENTINE’S DAY CAN HAPPEN ON ANY DAY
Declare Feb 15 to be your Valentine’s day. Or a week later. Reader Witold says he and his fiancÃ©e celebrate Valentine’s on Feb 21 and it works great. “That way, we can get a good reservation, buy discounted V-day gifts, and not pay inflated rose prices,” he writes. “She is sick of the over the top jewelry ads and blatant price gouging on flowers, and frankly, so am I.”
6. SPLASHING CASH ON SHALLOW OBJECTS WILL LEAVE YOU SOAKED
The key to a really great Valentine’s gift is to pick something that really matters. Something that says, “I’m paying attention to you!” Surprise them at work in your finery and give them a jar full of their favorite candy. Take one of their favorite pictures they’ve shot and get it blown up and framed. And sometimes, the most romantic gift of all is a sandwich…
Reader Kristen said that a few years ago her boyfriend had moved to North Carolina from Missouri to live with her. He was driving to work when the wheel assembly flew off his car. He was okay, but the costly repairs threatened to make for a meager feast of St. Valentine.
“With hundreds of dollars worth of repairs looming in the back of our minds, we ended up eating our first Valentine’s Day dinner together at Hardee’s,” writes Kirsten. “From that time forward, we have eaten at fast food joints or other “cheap” places on purpose for Valentine’s.” One year they went to Wendy’s. Another they really splurged and spent almost $20 at a local eatery. “We’re not sure where we’re going this year yet, but the tradition will live on!”
7. OUR LOVE WILL NEVER DIE, SO LET’S DIY!
Handmade gifts are individual to the recepient and show that you put time in instead of just picking up something from the stand at the mall. Make your best attempt at a miniature clay model of their head. Decoupage a light switch. No time to get art supplies? No problem. Here’s how you can make an origami heart with wings. For an added touch, reuse old wrapping paper. If there’s still a lot of snow around you right now, you could prepare a secret lover’s igloo and hide your gifts in there and bring your special someone there for a romantic rendezvous.
8. STAY IN AND WATCH A MOVIE
Snuggle up with some home-made popcorn and watch a fun flick. Redbox will let you send an electronic Valentine’s with a coupon for a free movie rental on 2/14. Details are at their Facebook page, coupon code “BEMINE.”
9. CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
There’s nothing more romantic than trying something new together, and it doesn’t have to be pricey. Check out a free local music show at a cool bar or cafe. Enroll in a one-day poetry workshop and present the flyer for it on Feb 14. Have you guys ever tried snowshoeing or cross-country skiing?
If the two of you are both into video games, getting two copies of a new one for each of you and learning it and playing it together can be a bonding experience. Reader Lori’s college boyfriend in 2002 chipped in with friends to buy her a copy of the massively multiplayer online game Everquest. “Creating an account to play with each other was something special,” she writes. “I still have fond memories of staying in, installing the game and learning the ropes with the happy BF by my side.”
“He graduated that summer and had it not been for that silly game, it wasn’t likely our new relationship would have survived the long distance relationship we endured the few subsequent years,” writes Lori. “Today, we’re married and Everquest has fallen by the wayside, but we still remember those time affectionately.”
10. KISSES AND HUGS ARE CHEAP, BUT DEAR
There is a no more cost-effective expression of love than a heartfelt kiss and a hug. So have at it!