Valentine’s Day is approaching, as I’m sure you’re aware if you’ve been into a Shoppers, Walmart, or any mall in the past month. This holiday puts pressure on people for a number of reasons, and one of them is the financial obligation to produce a material demonstration of your feelings. Sure, diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but not all of us can afford them at present. Fear not! At its core, Valentine’s is about expressing your love for your friends, family, and/or partner, and the best thing about love is that it’s free. So if you, like me, are operating on a budget this February, here are some cost-effective ways to let your S/O know just how significant they are.
There are many DIY ways to show someone you love them for very little money. One of my favourites is a Date Night Jar. Not only does it show your partner that you’re eagerly anticipating many more dates with them, but it saves you the lengthy process of deciding on date ideas in the future. You only need three things: a mason jar, popsicle sticks, and coloured sharpies. Oh, and a whole lot of date ideas.
- Divide your date ideas into six categories:
- Free/In (e.g. movie marathon, make a blanket fort, Mario Kart, games night)
- Free/Out (e.g. hike, bike ride, walk on the beach, library trip)
- Cheap*/In (e.g. pizza and 80’s movies, at-home massages, bake cookies)
- Cheap*/Out (e.g. review-cinema movie date, coffee date, McFlurries)
- Expensive/In (e.g cook a fancy meal, top-tier takeout, get drunk and buy exciting things on Amazon)
- Expensive/Out (e.g. nice restaurant, one night in a hotel, weekend camping trip, Wonderland)
- Write your ideas on the sticks, colour-coding them to match the six categories.
- Wrap a nice ribbon around your jar (optional), stick in your date ideas, and you’re good to go—next time you need a date idea, just reach for the jar. Pull the first one on Valentine’s!
*$20 or less!
Cook at Home
This won’t necessarily be free, but it’ll be cheaper and more fun than a restaurant! Cooking with your partner is a recipe for laughs and can be quite romantic, plus it’s an opportunity to either use or learn new kitchen skills. This year Valentine’s falls on a Tuesday, so amp up the anticipation factor (and save yourself the rush of buying groceries after work) by cozying up together over the weekend to find a recipe you’re both excited about. Head out together to buy the groceries, and then on the 14th, get your aprons on and get cooking! If one of you is no use in the kitchen, then it falls to that person to set the table creatively and put together a romantic playlist. This is a chance to have fun together, and who knows, perhaps you’ll surprise yourself with what you create! (You can leave the washing up for the next day—dishes are not terribly romantic).
Almost everyone is glued to their phone nowadays, and while it can help you keep in touch with your loved one while you’re apart, when you’re together it becomes a distraction. Make Valentine’s an offline occasion, whether you’re eating at home or at a restaurant, going for a walk, or just watching your favourite movie with a bowl of popcorn. Tell anyone who might need you that you’ll be unavailable, or put your phone on nighttime mode so only calls from your Favourites will come through. Focus on what you’re doing, and who you’re doing it with—no Facebook, no group chats, no snaps. Avoid the temptation, and you’ll soon find you forget about your device and have more meaningful conversation and overall a better night with your sweetheart. They’re worth the time away from your phone or laptop every night, but especially on a day designated for l-o-v-e.
Use Your Words
The best way to let people know you love them is to tell them you do! Do it with a card (you can get surprisingly lovely ones from the dollar store), slip a note in with their lunch, or send them a text telling them what you love most about them. Words are free, and are the truest way to communicating to someone that they hold a special place in your heart. Don’t hold back.