Valentine's Day on a Budget

It’s not so easy to celebrate Valentine’s Day on a budget. The flowers, the chocolates, the dinner, and other perks are costly. According to the National Retail Federation, America will spend in approximation of $3.5 billion on jewelry, $1.1 billion on greeting cards, and $1.7 billion on flowers. But as broke college students, the jewelry, greeting cards and flowers are unnecessary expenditures. Here are some ways to enjoy your Valentine’s Day without breaking the bank.

The Classic Ideas-

1. DIY Dinner: Going out to dinner can be as expensive as $150+. The key ingredient in find dining aside from the delicious food is the ambiance. You can recreate a romantic atmosphere by lighting just enough candles and plenty of pillows.

Ingredients? Stay simple if you’re new to cooking. A bag of salad (with dressing and ingredients) run from $5 to $10 as a starter appetizer. For the main dish, Omaha Steak’s Sesame Chicken Breast is quite inexpensive (4, 3 oz. per package) at about $15. And as for dessert, Betty Crocker to the rescue with delicious choice of cookies and brownies.

2. Picnic: There’s nothing like an indoor picnic on a cold February day. Pick a spot indoor that is either significant to you and your date or somewhere scenic. On our particular campus, the Tower Room is the perfect spot. Create the mood with a blanket (or sleeping bag) and some cushions.

Ingredients? Try something simple like the meal plan above. But if it’s a particularly cold day, add some hot chocolate or tea for warmth.

3. Tea Date: If tea is a particular drink you both enjoy, create a tea tasting date. There are plenty of teashops in Northampton and Amherst that will provide a distinct taste for plenty of pallets. Try an unusual flavor with different mixes of herbs. Or stay classy with Cozy Chamomile, Refreshing Peppermint, or Honey Ginseng.

Out and About Ideas-

1. Hike & Bike: There are plenty ways to spend the day together with exercise. Search for State and National Parks (such as Skinner State Park). Being located in the Pioneer Valley, the views are indeed scenic and rewarding after a long hike. There are also trails for biking that offers the same experience. Borrow one from a friend or rent one from the local bike shop. But if nature is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of things to see in Boston on bike.

2. Window Shopping: Even though it might seem strange to go window-shopping on Valentine’s Day, it is actually a brilliant money-saving idea (depending on how you manage yourself). It particularly works well for shops like Ikea, where you can spend half a day looking around the shop without actually purchasing anything. Large vintage shops and antique shops are also interesting, especially if they’re located in a historic town. Hunt for treasures!

3. Local Farmer’s Market: This idea really can tie in with the DIY Dinner (see above). Instead of making him dinner, cook dinner together and enjoy a day at the local farmer’s market for ingredients. They offer fresh ingredients and delicious homemade pastries! If the season allows (depending on where you may be), pick-you-own ingredients are also fun activities to enjoy.

4. Personal Tour: There are plenty of museums to go around. Depending on what he likes – art, history, science, etc. – you can organize your own personal tour, whether it’s walking around the museum and finding interesting artifacts or walking around the city to find Paul Revere’s house (in North End of Boston). This will take some research and planning ahead but it’s worthwhile to learn something new with your significant other.

On-Campus Ideas:

1. AST110 Intro to Astronomy: Maybe it’s time you finally put your astronomy course into use. There’s nothing like watching the constellations in the dim lights of Western Massachusetts. All it requires is a blanket, a warm cup of drink, and nature’s gift of the universe.

2. Movie Marathon: There’s nothing more relaxing than lounging around as a couch potato. Pick your favorite movies or shows or cartoons and create a back-to-back marathon with some delicious popcorn, pizza, and other snacks. All it takes is an advance reservation in the common rooms (if you don’t already have a TV in your room).

3. Picture Day: Turn your Valentine’s Day into a memorable picture day. Reserve your digital camera at the library one week in advance and find inspiration through the lenses. There are plenty of scenic and architectural places on campus – the stables, Upper Lake, Lower Lake, academic quad, etc. It might just give you a whole new perspective on life.

4. Drop-in Class: Zumba classes are at Kendall every week. Bring your other half for a fun dance class that will keep you exercising and pumped.

And if none of these ideas work for you, just for fun, there are always plenty of room and privacy in the stacks. All that matters is that you spend plenty of time with your sweetie and make precious memories.


I'm Phyu-Sin, co-EIC of Her Campus Mt. Holyoke. 

Come to me with any concerns, questions, or comments, and my doors will always be open to you.