Valentine’s Day Doesn’t Have To Break the Bank

While this Valentine’s Day will be a bit different than those in the past, the significance is still there. Now more than ever loved ones need someone who cares. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Smith.)

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, couples all around the world will be using this holiday as an excuse to shower their significant others in love. I personally think couples should treat every day like it’s Valentine’s Day, but it’s still fun to go all out for this one instance. 

However, with COVID still turning every part of American society on its head, this Valentine’s Day will be a bit different. Many of our wallets may be on the emptier side this year but don’t fret! 

You can still show your partner how much you love them without breaking the bank, here’s a few ideas for cheaper gifts and activities.

Food Options

While the idea of getting a table for two at the fanciest restaurant in town is what comes to mind when Valentine’s rolls around, that’s not as practical this year. Indoor dining can still be risky when it comes to reducing your risk for catching COVID, and it’s a bit cold outside to opt for outdoor seating. If you’d prefer to pinch your pennies when it comes to dining, fast food places have some excellent options this time of year. 

Chick-fil-a is selling heart-shaped aluminum tins full of the classics that you and your partner can share. Wanting something simple but filling? One of the trays contains thirty chicken nuggets for $14. If you’d prefer a sweeter option to pair with your partner’s personality, go for the six count cookie tray for $7. Then there’s my favorite, the ten count Chick-n-Mini tray for $10. 

However, Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday this year, so if you’d like to get one of these heart tins, swing by Saturday night.

Maybe you and your significant other were big nerds as kids and want to feel some good ol’ nostalgia. McDonalds is currently serving Pokemon themed Happy Meals. Wash down your apple slices with some chocolate milk while opening the Pokemon Card packs that they include in the boxes. Compare what cards each of you got and trade for your favorites just like you did when you were a kid, except now you can do it with your partner. Then when you’re done with the meal, you’re left with an adorable Pikachu box.

Chocolate always plays a big part when it comes to Valentine’s Day. The heart shaped boxes of chocolates are always cute, but can be a bit pricey when compared to the actual amount of chocolate received. An alternative could be getting the smaller boxes that are usually priced under $3 with around five pieces of chocolate inside, or heading over to the Dollar Store and picking up some cordial cherry boxes. However, I do get if going to the dollar store to get gifts for your lover seems a bit too cheap. If that’s the case then try making your own Valentine’s Day chocolate treats. Chocolate covered strawberries can be a cheap and easy dessert to make at home. If you or your partner has dietary restrictions such as being on keto, then go for extra dark chocolate. 

Gift Giving

While food is always a worthy gift, it’s still worth your while to get your partner something that lasts a bit longer. I know it will sound cliche, but you really can’t go wrong with candles. Sometimes the overused tricks are well worn for a reason, because they work. No one is ever disappointed to get a candle. Make sure the quality of the candle is worthy enough for your partner. 

In my own experiences with candles, I’d recommend getting a Yankee Candle. This brand of candles usually have very potent smells that you can smell even when you simply have the lid off. They are expensive though. In Yankee Candle stores, the large jar candles are usually priced around $30. Head over to the clearance shelf. Most clearance candles will be about half the price, they include many Christmas themed scents that are going out of season as well as some less desirable scents, so you’ll have to look around a bit to find one that’s perfect for that special person. Walmart also carries the large Yankee candles, usually prices around $14. Similar to in Yankee stores, most Christmas scents will be half off this time of year at Walmart.

A gift that will really show your partner that you care is a photo album. Start off with the smaller albums that fit around 24 pictures. Head over to Walmart and walk back to their photo center. Here you’ll be able to plug in your phone at one of the kiosks and print as many 4×6 pictures as you’d like. It only costs nine cents to print one photo so go all out. Don’t be picky with the pictures you print either. Remember that these are memories that you’ll always be able to look back on. Yes it’s important to memorialize the big parts of the relationship, but those cute selfies or candid pictures y’all take of each other are important too. Don’t forget to double everything. If you and your partner don’t live together, get an album for the both of you, each with the same pictures. This will allow them to fill their own album with different pictures they may have.

Back to cliches, they exist for a reason. Things like stuffed animals, sweatshirts, and blankets are perfect for couples who may not live together. Whether you won it in a claw machine while they cheered you on, or maybe it’s one of the Squishmellows that have taken over Gen Z, plushies aren’t just for kids. That stuffed animal will be something they can cuddle when you’re not there. It smells like you, and it’s proven that cuddling with plushies releases Oxytocin in the brain to help you calm down. 

The story with sweatshirts is similar. Being able to wear something that smells like you for a while can calm your partner. A sweatshirt can also be more customizable than a stuffed animal. Most any craft store carry cheap solid colored sweatshirts, as well as the supplies you’ll need to make it your own. Between bleaching, tie-dying, and applying patches, altering a sweatshirt specifically to you and your partner can be easy.

Activities For The Day

The whole day can’t just be eating and gift giving, so here are some activities you and your partner can do throughout the day. As mentioned previously, it’s probably going to be cold out, so primarily outdoor activities may be difficult. 

Going out to your nearest Goodwill or Habitat For Humanity ReStore could be a fun way to pass the time while finding clothes and gifts for cheap. Crafts are another fun way to pass the time. You could design the sweatshirts I recommended before, or maybe attempt to stay trendy and try your hand at glass paintings. Another cheaper craft is ceramic painting. You and your partner can choose any type of ceramic piece, paint it, then have it glazed and baked in the kiln for around $20 each. Most ceramic painting places have plenty of options for what to paint. You could choose something practical like a dish or a mug, or maybe you’d prefer to paint something decorative such as a figurine.

Museums are another good option for non-expensive activities. Most museums have free entry, or a small fee. They offer a couple hours of fun and depending on what kind of museum you go to, a different experience lies in each. Art museums offer some creative flare and visual stimulation for the entirety of time that you’re there. Science or history museums offer plenty of chances to feel intrigued, or the opportunity to learn something new. At the end of your trip stop by the gift shop and get a small souvenir to commemorate the experience with.

However you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, if you have a significant other I hope you can show them how much you care for them, no matter what your finances restrict. I also hope some of these tips are helpful for saving money this year. 

Make sure to love yourself on the 14th, as well as anyone else who you care for. Don’t let COVID ruin yet another holiday, but always remember to stay safe and reduce the risk of infection to you and your loved ones.


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