Valentine’s Day. It’s everywhere and you either love it or hate it – for some people it depends on their current situation. Regardless of how you feel about Valentine’s Day, it’s still going to be on the calendar. To be honest, I have always loved that mushy love-riddled day, but hate the consumerism that goes along with it. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, here are ten alternatives to celebrate the day with your loved ones without burning a hole in your pocket.
#1 Make your gift a DIY project
Looking for a cost-effective gift that doesn’t scream how thrifty you are? Go for a more thoughtful approach and make your gift a DIY project. Don’t feel discouraged if you aren’t particularly crafty – a home made gift can be simple, so don’t stress. The key to the perfect DIY gift is the thought that goes into it. Fill a jar with his favourite candies or trail mix to keep at his desk, give her a box with some of her favourite beauty items, make a couple of date night coupons or chore vouchers. In this day of Google and Pinterest, there is no project that you cannot undergo if you are unsure of how to do it.
#2 Go for beer and wings
Truthfully, going out for beer and wings really depends on your partner. If that isn’t their scene, then beer and wings is definitely out of the question. This is also true if they really have their heart set on a fancy dinner for Valentine’s Day – but don’t despair! It doesn’t have to beer and wings, but there are less expensive restaurant options out there where you can still have a delicious meal. Go to one of these places instead. If you’re part of the fancy dinner crowd, just wait… I have more alternatives for you.
#3 Go out for brunch
So your boyfriend or girlfriend, fiancée, husband or wife are looking for that fancy Valentine’s Day meal. Take them out for a fancy brunch instead! Let’s face it, brunch was made for couples and they can get pretty fancy if you take them to the right place, but it’s much more cost effective. Going out on a brunch date also means that you can start off your Valentine’s Day early and spend the whole day celebrating, rather than waiting until the end of the day.
Some of my favourite places to eat brunch that are on the cost-effective side are Panagio’s, The Beast Restaurant (see previous post), Milestone’s, and of course Cora’s.
A few other great brunch places in Toronto that I have been meaning to try are Auntie’s & Uncles, Starving Artist, and Lisa Marie.
#4 Have date night at home
A laid-back, low key dinner is not in the cards and neither is going out for brunch instead of dinner. How about a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at home? Cook them a fancy dinner or their absolute favourite meal in your culinary arsenal. Buying groceries and cooking yourself is a sure way to save some money. You also don’t need to eat amongst the other hundred couples that have decided to venture out and you can really take your time enjoying your meal – no rush to give the table to the next set of diners.
Since you already ate dinner at home, you might as well stay there. Watch a favourite movie on Netflix while sitting on your comfortable couch with a blanket, light some candles and take a relaxing bubble bath together, play some video or board games if that’s something you enjoy – there are so many possibilities.
#5 Buy candy in bulk
I know all that fancy packaging makes those sweets look appealing, but that’s exactly what you’re paying for with those heart shaped containers. Depending on the type of candy and the size of the box, you’re getting far less than quantity. Head to Bulk Barn and really get your money’s worth. This is key if you or your significant other has a sweet tooth. If you still want it to look nice, package it up yourself in some cellophane bags with ribbon or your own heart shaped container (another DIY idea). Buy getting your candy and chocolates in bulk, you have more variety to give them and to choose from. You also have the option of just buying candy and chocolate in their original packaging.
#6 Take a class together
Looking for something new to do this Valentine’s Day instead of the usual dinner and a movie date night? Why not take a class together? There are many facilities that offer a date night special for the sake of Cupid. This is your change to try something that the two of you have always wanted to try, with out the weeks of commitment. Go to a yoga class, sign up for a paint lounge, try a salsa lesson or cooking class. If the two of you end up enjoying it, then you have found another hobby you can do as a couple.
#7 Use a Groupon
While on the topic of taking a class together, using a Groupon is a great way to try a new hobby with minimal long-term commitment and is always at a discounted rate. Since they have virtually everything on Groupon, you can plan all your Valentine’s Day actvities around it – your brunch or dinner location, date night activities, even a hotel room.
#8 Choose a different bouquet
Roses are beautiful and they are a symbol of love, but does she even like them? In this case, you should definitely pick something else if you are planning on getting some flowers. Even if she does like roses, there are other flowers you can get that are just as pretty and fragrant but will save you some money. Get a bouquet with different kinds of flowers in it, like wild flowers for example, or her favourite flower perhaps. I have always found a bouquet of daisies in brown craft paper tied with raffia to be quite pretty and romantic, even though they aren’t a blossom that symbolize love or passion in the traditional sense.
#9 Wear something you already have in your closet
Don’t go out and buy a whole new outfit just for Valentine’s Day – pick out something from your own closet. By the time you find a complete outfit, you need to get shoes and a new bag, and since you’re already shopping you might as well buy some jewellery to go with everything else. For my gentlemen buying a new suit is never just buying a new suit. You’ll also need a shirt and tie, maybe some shoes too, or a pair of cuff links. Put a new look together with what you already own. Change up how you wear certain pieces or what accessories you normally pair it with.
#10 Have a post-Valentine’s Day celebration
Everything I have listed so far are all great ways to save a little money when it comes to your Valentine’s Day planning, but celebrating after-the-fact is a great way to cut your costs in a couple of areas at once. The sweets – we all know candy and chocolate are cheapest the day after Hallowe’en and the day after Valentine’s Day. Get your hands on some of that special packaging but at a more reasonable price. Going out to dinner on a regular night means it won’t be as busy and you can order from the regular menu as opposed to some special one is more expensive. The other good news is that you can still use a Groupon or buy an alternative bouquet for your post-Valentine’s Day, which means more money that stays in your pocket.
Whether you decide to go all out for the fanciest dinner with a brand new outfit for both of you, or decide to take a few ideas from this list and go the more conservative spending route, the most important thing is that you have a great Valentine’s Day with the person you want to be with. Don’t forget to let them know how much you mean to them.