When it comes to planning Valentine’s Day gifts for your sweetie, take a cue from the field of behavioral economics. “Over the past decade, an abundance of psychology research has shown that experiences bring people more happiness than do possessions,” The Atlantic says, summing up the research findings in an article, “Buy Experiences, Not Things.”
Gifts of experiences or simply adding a personal touch to affordable gifts also can have a greater impact for the money.
“You can impress your sweetheart without depressing your budget,” says Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson. “Just use your imagination instead of your dough.”
Whether you’re thinking of giving an experience, a homemade gift or a carefully chosen purchase, you’ll find something for your honey among these money savings tips:
1. Give flowers on a budget
Spend some effort selecting the blooms, because a wilted bouquet or cellophane-wrapped bundle from the grocery store can give the impression of a last-minute gift grabbed without thought. A few tips for giving flowers on a budget:
- Flowers must be kept cold to last well, so avoid roadside vendors and do your research before using a florist online.
- Shop in person ahead of the Valentine’s Day rush. Ask a couple of florists to explain what they’ll produce within your budget.
- Local florists are a good bet because you can see the quality of their flowers and examples of their arrangements.
- Make a big impact with less-expensive flower varieties by selecting very fresh blooms and presenting them well, for example, wrapped in attractive tissue or paper or perhaps tied with a satin bow.
- Tuck a small card with a romantic note into the bouquet.
- Avoid delivery charges by picking up and delivering the bouquet yourself.
For more ideas read Picked With Love: How to Get the Very Best Value on Valentine’s Flowers.
2. Make a puzzle of your love
Order a customized jigsaw puzzle made from a photo of you and your honey ($29.99 Shutterfly). Plan to spend a romantic evening assembling the puzzle together.
3. Cook a romantic dinner
Splurge on fabulous ingredients and prepare them lovingly at home, serving them in a romantic setting. Here are ideas to get you cooking:
- Cooking Light has recipes for Romantic Dinners for Two, including filet mignon with mushroom-wine sauce, pan-seared scallops on linguine, coconut and basil steamed mussels, roasted lobster tail and chicken Milanese with spring greens.
- Take the Epicurious quiz to determine the best menu for your Valentine, from breakfast in bed to a picnic in the park to a pull-out-all-the-stops roses-and-candlelight romantic dinner.
- Food & Wine’s romantic recipes include sexy foods (including grilled oysters with spicy tarragon butter and goat-cheese stuffed roasted figs) and romantic dishes (lobster capellini with leek-tarragon cream sauce, oysters on the half-shell with rosé mignonette and chocolate soufflé cakes with vanilla-thyme ice cream are a few.)
- Country Living has 25 romantic recipes for Valentine’s Day.
4. Play games
Create an evening of fun playing board games with your loved ones, whether a sweetheart, friends or children. One intriguing possibility: Do Tell, a game that explores relationships, with separate versions for kids and adults. “It’s a cutting-edge icebreaker, pushing the limits of intimacy, by revealing unexpressed thoughts and feelings in a safe space,” Amazon’s reviewer says. To add romance, include the 25 “bonus risk spicy” cards in the adult version.
Or delve into “serious games.” FiveThirtyEight.com says these are characterized by deep strategy, while also being relatively easy to learn.” “The Settlers of Catan” and “Ticket to Ride” are two “popular gateway drugs of the genre,” the article says. “Twilight Struggle,” another deep strategy game, gets high marks at BoardGameGeek.