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5 Frugal Valentine’s Day Ideas

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 [3] 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 [4] 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.