13 Gifts for Valentine’s Day: Spend Less and Rev Up the Romance

We've got great ideas for simple outings, romantic dinners, flowers done well and more.

When it comes to selecting a Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetie, remember that recent research in the field of behavioral economics has revealed that experiences bring people more happiness than possessions.

Gifts of experiences — or simply adding a personal touch to affordable gifts — can have a great impact this Valentine’s Day. You’ll find something for your honey among these money-savings tips:

1. Give flowers on a budget

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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.
  • 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 fresh blooms and presenting them well.
  • 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 “8 Ways to Get the Best Value on Valentine’s Flowers.”

2. Make a puzzle of your love

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Order a customized jigsaw puzzle made from a photo of you and your honey ($29.99 at Shutterfly). Plan to spend a romantic evening assembling the puzzle together.

3. Cook a romantic dinner

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Splurge on fabulous ingredients and prepare them lovingly at home, serving them in a romantic setting. Before you go shopping at the grocery store, check out these stories full of tips for cutting your costs:

4. Play games

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Create an evening of fun playing games with your primary loved one or with your entire family of loved ones. Looking for ideas? Some favorite games of yesteryear are among “The 51 Hottest Toys of the Past 50 Years.”

5. Stuff a bag with sweets

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Charm a loved one by putting together a bag of his or her favorite sweets to give with other Valentine’s Day gifts. Start with a small gift bag from the grocery store and load it with the sweets you know your honey craves most. Use homemade cookies, high-end chocolates and grocery store goodies. Or, simply fill it up with classic Valentine’s candies. Tie a big red bow on or around the bag.

6. Create a memorable breakfast in bed

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Fill a basket with treats for a very special breakfast in bed. Include warm croissants, butter, homemade jam, fresh fruit and hot chocolate. Don’t forget a few fresh flowers and maybe a pitcher of freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice.

7. Listen up

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Forgo electronic communication for one day (or one hour) and communicate heart-to-heart with those you love. Open up. Share your feelings — keep them positive on this special day. When loved ones respond, listen with all your heart without interrupting. Nothing — absolutely nothing — is more sexy, loving or romantic.

8. Save when you buy a diamond ring

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If you have chosen Valentine’s Day to propose, start the marriage right by refusing to feel pressured into overspending. Do something good for your budget by considering a synthetic diamond. Before you reject this idea out of hand, read “Why Your Next Diamond Should Be From a Lab.” Not only are diamonds made in a lab less expensive, but they are also free of the ethical issues that dog real diamonds.

9. Pack a picnic and read corny poetry

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Money Talks News editor Kari Huus and her husband have spent memorable Valentine’s Days curled up in the cabin of their docked sailboat, dining on picnics and reading goofy romantic poetry aloud or playing Scrabble.

No boat? No problem. Finding the venue is part of the fun. Consider bundling up for a winter picnic at a favorite beach or park. Or picnic in the middle of a mall or at an arboretum or museum.

Take the picnic planning seriously. Fill a basket or box with your sweetie’s favorite goodies. Bring a Valentine’s Day card, chocolates, tableware, a tablecloth, a few flowers, wine or beer if you wish, and plenty of napkins and moist wipes for cleanup.

If you want inspiration for the poetry, ask for assistance from your local public library or browse poems by subject at The Poetry Foundation.

10. Make a romantic card

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A handmade card is one of the sweetest gifts imaginable. The key is spending time and care on it. You don’t need talent, just love. Bring your whole heart to the project and take the time to make something sweet or silly that conveys your love. If you can’t draw, cut out pictures and letters from magazines and make a collage.

11. Make a printed photo book

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Create a small printed photo book commemorating some of your experiences together. Don’t feel it has to document all your time together. Instead, just choose a few special moments for a Valentine’s Day gift. Thanks to the internet, there’s no need to slave over it. Just upload your photos and follow instructions. Check out some of the go-to services, such as Shutterfly and Mixbook.

12. Give an imaginative gift certificate

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Give homemade gift certificates for the services and experiences you know your honey will love most. A few examples:

  • Promise you’ll do the dishes once when it’s not your turn.
  • Serenade your honey with a song you wrote.
  • Tackle a hated job of your sweetie’s choice — changing the oil in the car, for example, or scrubbing the toilets, or coping with a child’s meltdown.

13. Hire a baby sitter

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Find someone to watch your kids — ask a friend or relative or hire a baby sitter — so you and your partner are free to concentrate on having fun together. Plan a day or evening doing silly, cheap, fun activities. Here are a few ideas to get your imagination going:

  • Play miniature golf.
  • Go bowling.
  • Walk for miles after dark holding hands. Stop at a cafe, window shop as you walk, or shoot a game of pool in a pub.
  • Play paintball.
  • Rent a motel room with a whirlpool bath and bring in Champagne and pizza.

Do you have suggestions for celebrating love? Leave your comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Marilyn Lewis
Marilyn Lewis
After a career in daily newspapers I moved to the world of online news in 2001. I specialize in writing about personal finance, real estate and retirement. I love how the Internet ... More

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