Frugal Living 

5 Frugal Valentine’s Day Ideas

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St. Valentine’s Day is exactly four days away and you have exactly one weekend to plan something absolutely fabulous. We had our friend Laura Pagles of Fatwallet share a few ideas for first time Valentine’s day gifts but what if you aren’t celebrating your first? What if you’re celebrating your fifth? Or fiftieth? (congrats by the way, if you’re celebrating your fiftieth!)

After the courtship period, where you don’t know as much about your partner, Valentine’s Day is more about the thought you put into it the store and buying something fancy. It’s more about understanding what your partner enjoys and loves, which could very well be something fancy at the store. After a few years, you should know this and not pay the fool’s premium on something that won’t get the most appreciation. So these ideas are “frugal” in the sense that it’s not your typical VDay gift of diamonds, flowers, and chocolate.

Cook a Fancy Dinner

Two years ago, my wife and I started a tradition of cooking uber-fancy meals for our major celebrations and for minor ones like Valentine’s Day. Two years ago we made Provençal Rack of Lamb which came out fantastic. We had far more lamb that we would’ve at a restaurant and it cost a fraction of what it would on a menu. The best part is that the lamb wasn’t the showcase, making it was. Spending time cooking and experimenting was the “gift” we gave each other, the lamb was just the bonus.


If you’re not a cook, you could go the route of fondue. Ask some of your friends if they have a fondue kit (someone probably has one and won’t be using it) and search online for some fondue recipes. You could go with a cheese dip, a savory dip, or just opt for the classic chocolate sauce. Regardless of what you pick, the preparation will just involve some chopping of fruits, meats, and vegetables; depending on what you pick. Fondue can be expensive if you enjoy it at a restaurant, it can be plenty affordable if you do it at home.

Find a Dollar Movie Theater

Movies don’t have to be a $9-$10 per person affair, your local town probably has a dollar theater showing older movies or classics. Why not check out their selection and see if there’s an oldie but goodie that you may have missed the first time around? It won’t be a blockbuster but it’ll certainly be kinder on your budget. If you don’t have any dollar movie theaters in your area, you can always go with Redbox!

Hit the Dollar Store

Dollar stores will be chock full of Valentine’s Day loot from little cards to candies to all sorts of other fun stuff – think of the stuff elementary school kids would give to each other. You might that that stuff might be a little “cheap,” but I think it’d be perfect for doing something reminiscent of your childhood. Why not buy a box of the dollar Valentine’s cards and write down a dozen (or more) reasons why you love your partner? Why not hide them all over your house so he or she can find them throughout the year?

Find a Free Concert/Music

Check out your local community board to see if there is a local concert with some local talent playing music at a bookstore or other venue. You never know what you’ll find and many people never think to even look. You never know, you may discover something you really enjoy but never knew you did. 🙂

Lastly, you can always skip it. If you don’t want to partake in the commercialism that is Valentine’s day, nothing says you have to.

{ 15 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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15 Responses to “5 Frugal Valentine’s Day Ideas”

  1. I agree with all but one: Fondue. Fondue is never cheap to do at home. Fun, sure. Cheap? No.

    I suppose you could melt some velveeta in a pot and call it fondue, but in reality, fondue requires really high quality (read: expensive) cheese, not to mention wine, and all of the things you dip in it add up quickly.

    It might be cheapER to do it at home, but it’s certainly no bargain basement meal.

    • Shirley says:

      At family potluck gatherings we sometimes have a fondue table. Three or four people bring dips and one or two bring dippers. It’s not expensive that way and we always have fon du ing it. 😉

  2. Shirley says:

    Jim said, “Spending time cooking and experimenting was the “gift” we gave each other, the lamb was just the bonus.”

    An great experience isn’t fully enjoyed unless it’s shared.

    • Stefanie says:

      “An great experience isn’t fully enjoyed unless it’s shared.”

      I actually seriously disagree with this. I am all for the romance that V-day can symbolize and bring around (though I like my romance all year long personally), but I think there are many, many experiences in this world that can be wonderful and very much fully appreciated by one person, on their own.

      • Shirley says:

        I guess I should have said, “I feel that a great experience isn’t fully enjoyed unless it’s shared.” When I share I also find joy in the other person’s enjoyment.

  3. skylog says:

    count me in for the dinner. although most of the time, we end up going out on valentine’s day itself, we very often do the dinner thing instead of going out other times.

  4. Stefanie says:

    I love the dollar store idea, especially for those of us who are unemployed. My partner once gave me a whole set of boxed Harry Potter valentines. 🙂

    I got a free custom card for my partner last week through a different couponing website and I will buy a few of her favorite chocolates to go with it – just a couple Reese’s pb hearts and some Cadbury easter candy (because she absolutely adores these) – at 50 Cents each I’ll probably spend $3 total for something I know she’ll love and appreciate.

  5. zapeta says:

    Thanks for the ideas! I especially love the kid’s valentines idea.

    • ziglet19 says:

      I bought a set of kid’s valentine’s 90% off last year, and just slipped them into my husband’s jacket pocket or lunch for an occasional love note throughout the year. I think the whole box of 30 valentines cost me $0.19! Not bad, right?

  6. The dollar store sounds like a great idea, as long as my wife doesn’t ask where I got her card and gift…. eek.

  7. SoonerNATX says:

    You forgot celebrating Ferris Wheel day! this is a frugal V-day idea that can be fashioned anyway you like!

  8. jepoole17 says:

    An idea we’ve started using in recent years (not sure where it came from): We each draw a letter out of a pile of Scrabble tiles and the entire Valentine is based around that letter. We set $15/person limit on spending, but you could modify as you like. It makes for some creative Valentine-ing. Last year my wife gave me a 4-pack of ‘G’uiness and some ‘g’reen boxers – awesome.

    On a related note, I welcome any suggestions what to do for my wife this year. I drew “O” and I am struggling for ideas…

    • Shirley says:

      A small potted Orchid should run about $15.
      Oil of Olay hand/body care lotion
      One of a kind anything
      Opportunity to purchase Own choice (gift certificate)
      Old-fashioned V-card, Odor-eater shoe inserts, pickled Octopus… 😉

    • ziglet19 says:

      What a great idea, I love it!

    • Strebkr says:

      That is a very creative idea. I might have to try that out.

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