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Simple Ways to Celebrate Your Valentine on the Cheap

Celebrate Valentine on Cheap

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So, I have a confession to make. Are you ready for this?

I’m just not a big fan of what my husband and I call “Hallmark holidays”. Sure, I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, but making a big to-do for Valentine’s Day just isn’t my thing.

This isn’t because I don’t love to show my husband and family how much they mean to me. Truth be told, it’s the exact opposite: I think it’s silly to only reserve roses and hearts and love notes for one day of the year. Instead, I think we should be celebrating Valentine’s Day every day of the year because every day is a day to show love to the wonderful people in our lives.

With this in mind, instead of sharing fun and cute ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share four frugal but very meaningful ways to celebrate your Valentine — either actually on Valentine’s Day or any day of the year! If you’re not married or in a relationship, you can tweak these ideas to apply to your children, a friend, or another relative.

1. Write a Love Note

When was the last time you wrote a note to your Valentine telling them how much you appreciate, admire, and love them? It might be one of the most simplistic ideas in the book, but writing a love note can also be one of the most long-lasting and appreciated.

The note doesn’t have to be long — and it doesn’t even have to be hand written! You can send a text, type up the note, write an email, or use a dry erase marker to write on your bathroom mirror. Your method of writing it doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it comes from your heart. To make things a little more fun, consider hiding a note somewhere fun or leaving a trail of little love notes around the house.

2. Express Words of Gratitude

We all need to hear how much we are appreciated more often. Can I encourage you to be looking every day for something to thank your Valentine for?

Whether it’s that they ran an errand for you, picked up their socks, helped you with a project, or just have faithfully stood by your side through thick and thin. You never know how much a word of thanks can make someone’s day.

Want to take this a step further? Praise character that you appreciate instead of just saying thank you for actions done. Tell your Valentine how much you admire their patience, their hard work, or their amazing ability.

Don’t flatter and don’t lie, but you can come up with something to praise in just about everyone. Look for it and then let them know. It will likely mean the world to them!

3. Make a Love-Themed Meal

Celebrate your Valentine by coming up with creative Valentine-themed twists on their favorite foods. For instance, cut the strawberries in a fruit salad into hearts, shape the pepperoni on the homemade pizza into hearts (or make heart-shaped pizza), make heart-shaped pancakes or cinnamon rolls, or even Valentine’s-themed bacon.

4. Speak Their Love Language

While I don’t like to box people into specific categories, every person has a unique love language. This is the way that they feel loved most.

If you’re unfamiliar with the five love languages, they are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. In many cases, you’ll be a mix of a few of these, but you’ll almost always have one that is dominant. If you’re not sure what you love language is, you can take this quiz here (and be sure to have your Valentine take it, too!)

Once you know what someone else’s love language is, it really helps you to be able to demonstrate love to them in a manner that means the most. For instance, my dominant love language is Words of Affirmation. It means the world to me when Jesse tells me how much he appreciates me and how proud he is of me. This speaks love to me much more than buying something for me does.

Jesse’s love language is quality time. It’s very important to him that we spend time together and just be together — without me acting rushed or like I’m busy. As a Type A person who does not have the love language of quality time, it’s been a learning experience for me to figure out that just being with him is extremely meaningful to him.

So if I want to bless Jesse, I express my desire to just spend time with him with no agenda in mind. And then I follow through with it. This means more to him than any gifts or acts of service ever could mean.

What are your favorite ways to celebrate your Valentine on the cheap?

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  • These are great! We’re not big on Valentine’s day either. It is always a good reminder on the calendar that we haven’t been out on a date in a while. We will usually get a date in around that time and sometimes we will exchange gifts. No one has expectations though.

  • Susan says:

    My husband and I love fondue. While this meal is more expensive than our normal meals at home, it is still far cheaper to do at home rather than at a restaurant. This meal is a wonderful treat from time to time for an at home date!

  • Sakura says:

    I like your comment on Love Languages. We studied this in my diversity class. I’m not a big fan of Valentines either, but I still like to give small gifts to my family. I usually bake their favorite treat and leave it on their night stand with an “I love you” note. Each member of my family has a different language and it changes as they grow. My 16 yo son likes to receive gifts, My 8 yo likes quality time and my 19 yo daughter likes words of affirmation. My husband likes when I can spend some down time with him and just be together. We also make baked treats for the neighbors and teachers at our school.

  • I totally agree showing love everyday to our spouses, family, etc and not because of a holiday/day of year. I have always preferred my husband to get me things because he wants to, not because he feels like he has to.

    So many people complain & are heartbroken over Valentine’s Day because they want a “Valentine” and all the gifts that are expected. I’ve learned from life that flowers, chocolate, teddy bears, etc are a dime a dozen, but genuine love is expressed consistently everyday.

    I think a lot of the thoughts you shared are great and what I do as well. I also like to get my husband things he loves like comfy pajamas, soft sheets, & his favorite snacks. Also making sure I am supporting him in his endeavors. Support alone can make or break a marriage. It can build love or take it away. Thanks for the tips Crystal!

  • Charity says:

    Thats SO funny! My husband call them “Hallmark Holidays” too!! I have to say, it is much sweeter, genuine, and oh, so romantic when he surprises me on “ordinary” days with flowers or something special. He makes every day special. I am so blessed…and so in love with the man God gave me! 🙂

  • This is such a sweet and simple post. I agree completely. I don’t mind Valentines Day. I don’t care what day it is though. We rarely celebrate it ON the day anyway. My husband usually works. But the kids sure enjoy having fun and it is an opportunity for us as a family to be a blessing to others. This year we making Valentines and passing them out at the nursing home. The kids love making cards and I know the it will brighten some of the old folks just to see the kids even if it is for a few short minutes.

  • Nicki says:

    We don’t really care to do the restaurant thing, the service is horrible on Valentine’s Day and the weekend after. We usually rent movies and spend time as a family with a valentine’s themed meal. We make alot of snacks (ie: Popcorn with white chocolate drizzle that has been dyed, oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies with Valentine’s m&ms, Heart shaped sandwiches (we bought one of those sandwich cutters) chicken salad, egg salad or tuna is great, we have chips and just watch out movies and pig out…we usually rent a couple comedy movies or love stories (last year we did the notebook and mr poppers pengins nothing too serious). We have a really good time as a family and everyone knows they are loved.

  • Crystal, I agree—we should tell the ones we love more often how much we love them.

    I recently wrote a post on how to keep the romance going after many years of marriage.

  • Katherine says:

    Ohh….Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. It’s always been a fun day (except for the strained Hallmark dating years!!). Traditionally my husband cooks dinner including choosing the menu and buying the groceries. We’ll do something fun like cheese or chocolate fondue or shish kabobs or a traditional spaghetti dinner served on a table moved to a different room. Just to be different. We’ve got 2 kids now so I “help” with the menu, groceries and cooking now but it’s still a lot of fun. Sometimes sparkling grape juice in crystal glasses. We get out the nice tablecloth and candles and china even if it’s just pizza for dinner. I love it. We do have chocolate but nothing fancy. And no flowers. I can’t stand the flowers. I would rather have them any other day of the year except for Valentine’s day when they are triple the price and sooooooo contrived. One year my husband got me a $2 ziploc baggie of rose petals for my bath. That was a lot of fun. And that’s about it. My husband thanks me every year for making it so easy for him. And now that our 2 kids are getting a little older (1 and 3) I’m looking forward to making some simple handmade valentine’s for them to exchange. Just lots and lots of fun.

  • Kacy says:

    We definitely do Valentine’s Day on the cheap, usually I fix my husbands’ very favorite meal (Paula Deen fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, homemade buttery bubble bread and chocolate cake with his mother’s special icing that uses Nestle Quik!) and we enjoy it together, he usually gets me flowers too since he knows I love them, but I am a carnation girl so it doesn’t hit his wallet too bad 🙂 We do have a 2 year old now, so I am thinking this year we will definitely make Daddy a homemade valentine’s day card from her and maybe do a fun valentines’ themed activity or two during our homeschooling time. You don’t have to spend a lot to have a memorable day together IMO.

  • jenn says:

    Our anniversary is on January 31 so we have just lumped Valentine’s into our anniversary celebration. Takes stress off the both of us since they are so close.

    For our son, I typically get him a little gift and do special food.

    • Liz S says:

      @Jenn, our anniversary is Feb 19th, so we do the same thing! Which works out great, because we don’t like celebrating “Hallmark” holidays just like Crystal.

  • Whitney says:

    When my husband and I were dating, I told him I never expected – nor wanted – anything for Valentine’s. However, back then we did start the tradition of visiting the card aisle at the drug store to peruse the Valentines separately. Then we hand each other the card we would have picked for the other (before returning the card to its holder). I know – we’re that cheap! But it’s still a fun tradition – and since we’ve been together over 11 years, so far it’s saved us enough money for a nice dinner out!

  • Shannon says:

    This post is near and dear to my heart as I feel the same way. My husband and I love to do little things throughout the year to show our love to one another and our son. The one thing he says he likes the best is that I write him a love note and put it in his lunch every day. One day I was getting something from his truck and pulled the visor down and about thirty of the notes I had written him all fell down. I was so touched and never knew he kept them so that really makes it even easier to continue. I did decide to make a frugal gift for him this year to give him along with making him and my son a special dinner. I made him a photo book of the three of us from the past year I earned with free coke rewards points and can’t wait to give it to him.

  • Susan says:

    While I agree with you on showing love to our loved ones during the year, I have to say my kids LOVE Valentine’s Day. When my oldest was young, I started doing a Valentine clue hunt for them. Before they could read, I would print or draw pictures for them. Now, I write out riddles for them. The hunt ends with a small thing of candy or something. It is a couple hours work for me but I know my kids will always have great memories of this day. We homeschool and my kids look forward to this day so much, that can’t believe they have school on that day. 🙂

  • Carla says:

    I love Valentine’s Day! I am not sure why! I actually love to watch people at the grocery store buying flowers and balloons. Weird, I know. I love the pink and the red and the hearts!
    Before our daughters were married my husband always gave them some flowers for Valentine’s Day, I guess because he was the one who guarded their hearts.
    I like to give/ make cards and give them to people almost as a ministry because I always write about the love of God. I know that we should do the more than one day a year, and I do.
    I am doing a Valentine craft in Children’s Church, but again it is totally Christ- centered. I do have little heart decorated bags to hand out with Skittles in them, and am planning on having heart shaped sugar cookies, all with the reminder that I love them, but God loves them so much more.

    • We are huge fans of the 5 Love Languages. It has helped in counseling many couples. I also like to think about it with my kids….teaching them all the languages and watching to see what they learn more strongly towards. It has also helped us in choosing discipline plans for them.

    • I love this, Crystal! The Husband and I are exactly the same way about “Hallmark” Holidays. So much more fun for wither of us to get a little surprise or a card on any other day (not to mention – why would we go out to eat on Valentine’s Day when it is so expensive and we love to cook anyway??) Thanks so much for sharing these sweet ideas and insights! 🙂

  • Ruth says:

    Sometimes I think Valentines Day backfires because it puts stress on a couple to look and be a certain way (like on a Hallmark card or romantic movie) when in reality they are having a rough patch. It ends up feeling forced and sad that you’re not measuring up to a “perfect marriage partner”. I personally found that if we show love daily and in meaningful ways it builds our marriage far more than going through the motions of Feb 14th. Valentines Day wasn’t meant to fix everything anyway. Taking the pressure off by implementing daily improvements and efforts to show love has helped us tremendously, though.

  • Taking a walk together — without kids! — is free and very romantic 🙂

  • Meredith says:

    I love valentines day. It’s not because I buy a card for my husband and a dancing monkey for my daughter with an overpriced box of nasty chocolate. Of course we show each other love each day and share that love year round. I love valentines day because it’s a day we have to slow down for each other. On valentines day there isn’t any extra phone calls, no working overtime, no other plans. It’s just a day for us. Yes, we do this year round too but I love that there is a day designated that brings all of my friends in family out to show their love. As for what we do, I make a heart shaped homemade pizza and we watch a kids movie with my daughter. If I can get some candy on super clearance with a coupon, I get something for the fam. Just simple fun.

  • I have never heard of the love languages! That is so neat. I just took the test, I can’t wait to have my husband take it. I am “physical touch”- I love hugs!
    Anyway, I love your ideas! We are on a tight budget and we don’t usually do much for Valentine’s Day ( The resturants are always crowded and jack up the prices anyway). I love these simple ideas. We usually have a special meal as a family together.

  • Since we’ve had kids, nearly all of our valentine’s days have been celebrated at home on the cheap. I like to do fun heart shaped food for the kids all day. We make homemade cards and treats. If we can stay awake long enough, my husband and I will stay up and eat dinner alone and watch a movie. We just try to make it special.

  • Amy says:

    I grew up celebrating Valentine’s Day as a family, and I do the same now with my family. We eat in the dining room on fine china, have a special meal with dessert, and open little gifts. It’s a family affair!

  • Jennifer Meybaum says:

    Valentine’s Day is a great time to remember the single people you know: siblings, friends, widows and do something for them as a family. Get them some fancy chocolate, send them a gift card; just let them know you love them. … Also, to get your kids involved you can make some edible yummies and take them around the neighborhood to actually “love your neighbors” in a fun way on Valentine’s Day.

  • Andrea says:

    We’re Catholic here, and participate in Saints’ days – I love to celebrate Saint Valentine’s day with my family. We go to Mass in the morning, the kids and I, and then go home to a fun brunchy lunch. This year, my son will be at school and so will my daughter, so I’m going to go to Mass by myself, and then spend some time with my Jesus that morning while I plan the rest of the day.

    We have a fun meal that’s a little fancier than it normally is (fondue is the menu this year!), and we give the kids their presents – a card (because they’re 3 and 5), and a coupon booklet my husband and I are making together. It will have coupons for things like, “stay up late one night and watch a movie with Momma and Daddy”, “get ice cream with Daddy”, “play a board game with Momma”, etc.

    It’s not just a Hallmark holiday to some of us – it’s a real, living, breathing holiday that means so much to us. 🙂

  • ashley says:

    We have chosen to make V-Day a special day to show love to others as a family. We have in the past made special cards to deliver to widows that afternoon/evening, and it was a bigger blessing to us than it was to them. One year we knocked on widows’ doors and sang “We Love You With the Love of the Lord” when they opened it (lots of tears were shed). This year we are taking dinner to a lady and her family who will have just had surgery b/c of breast cancer, and we are thinking of ways to include special little gifts to make her whole family have a special day and feel loved. It’s rewarding for my husband and I, and it’s invaluable for our kids.

  • We try to schedule date nights at home. One of our most fond at-home date night memories is the time we worked in the kitchen together brownies from scratch, then chocolate frosting from scratch to top them off. Then we polished off a few!

  • Heather says:

    I like going to the grocery late in the afternoon on the 14th, and watching all the men awkwardly looking for flowers and candy. You can tell a lot of them are feeling so self-conscious.

  • cher says:

    Crystal, you have such wonderful tips.. I love how wholesome, sincere, and humble you are! What a blessing it is to learn from your practical insight and wise guiding principles!

  • Pam says:

    Thanks for this great post. I am always looking for fun and cheap ideas to celebrate occasions. There are so many great, free ideas that you can find on the internet. I put together a round-up of over 50 Valentine’s Day activities/recipes on my blog. All of these things can be done or made for cheap!

  • Great post! Thank you MOST ESPECIALLY for talking about love languages! I believe that is so often overlooked (and in some cases, completely unknown). But it really is an effective way to communicate with not just your spouse, but with children, parents, anyone! Thank you for bringing this to our attention! 🙂

  • Angela M says:

    I very much agree with this article. My husband and I quit celebrating Valentine’s Day about 3 years ago. He will surprise me through out the year with gifts, flowers, or cards just to tell me how much he loves me or what I mean to him. I also do the same thing, randomly I will buy him some thing he has been wanting or write him a card to tell him that I love and respect him.
    Valentine’s Day I think is marketing people to couple up and buy things just for that day when what happens with all the other days and what does that person mean to you.
    Anyways, I will get off my little soap box.

  • Emily says:

    We ignore the Hallmark holidays, too. 🙂 Our anniversary is Feb. 14. And this year we are expecting a baby, too (due on Feb. 16)!

  • Lois says:

    Yes, you should definitely celebrate and show your loved ones EVERY DAY! Just over 17 years ago, Valestine cards had just hit the shelves. My husband and I had almost always given each other the funny valentine cards but that year I found a “mushy” one that said it all and I hid it as soon as I got home. I forgot about it until finding it about a month after Valentines Day. My husband died that January 31st and never saw it. It crushes me all over again whenever I run across that card. So, friends, don’t wait for “special” occasions! They may not come. Make every day a special occasion for those you love!

  • Robin says:

    I like the love letter one! My husband hates Valentines Day because it is so commercialized but I love it, don’t ask me why. Anyways I told him don’t worry about getting me anything this year- I don’t need flowers, I definitely don’t need chocolate, just plan a special date for me sometime in the future, and he was so relieved. What he doesnt know is that his parents are taking the kids overnight and we are going to have a candlelit dinner for two in our living room and the whole evening to ourselves. I thought about something to give him that doesnt cost money, and I’ve made the 50 things I like about you lists before ( along time ago) but this year I decided to just make a list of my favorite memories/days with him. Some were funny, serious, and romantic, it was fun to think back and pick my favorites. I printed it on a sheet of paper and glued it onto some nice card stock, and used some free valentines stickers I had. It didn’t cost anything but my time, and I’m sure he will love it! Just an idea if someone needs one.

  • Jess says:

    I love the day after Valentine’s Day! I teach several children’s ministries and score on all the goodies with which to fill my prize boxes. That’s about all I love about it though! Just spending quality time with my husband is good enough for me. I do decorate my kiddos’ door with Scripture hearts. If we’re going to talk love, it might as well be about the One Who truly knows how to love, right?

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