10 Inexpensive Date Ideas for This Valentine’s Day

1. Have a Picnic under the Stars

Sometimes an elaborate, expensive plan isn’t always the best thing. People like feeling like they are unique, they want to see the effort you are putting in. Therefore, a picnic under the stars is the perfect cheap date to solve your problems. Throw together a basket of your favorite foods, bring some cozy blankets & pillows and even a laptop for some Netflix watching too. You can also release a floating lantern to give the night an extra dose of romance.

Best for: Couples

Two people looking at the sky on a starry night Ryan Jacobson

2. Bake or cook a meal together

Finding a place that doesn’t have an hour-long wait is close to impossible; therefore, a cheaper and less stressful option is to cook the meal yourselves. This idea is for our cooking show connoisseurs, the ones who re-watch The Great British Baking Show and Iron Chef over and over. Just take a page out of Gordon Ramsey’s book and make something tasty.

Best for: Couples, Gal Pals, Singles

3. Stay in and have your own movie night

Nobody wants to deal with the crowded theater and overpriced popcorn on a day like Valentine’s Day. This day is already stressful enough, especially if you don’t have that special someone to spend it with. So, build yourself a pillow fort and make your own movie theater! The best thing is that it will only feature your favorites and you don’t have to worry about sneaking in snacks.

Best for: Singles, Gal Pals

Person holding a remote with a Netflix screen background Freestocks.org

4. Roller-skating/ Ice skating

Let’s throw it back to the good old times when roller rinks were THE place to hang out. Sometimes all you need is just a pair of skates and some old Miley Cyrus jams to really make the night fantastic. Whether it’s with bae or your BFFs, laughing about trying not to fall or crash into a wall and get injured always makes for the best stories in the long run. For an added romantic bonus, request a special song and enjoy the moment with your loved one on the skate floor.

Best for: Couples, Gal pals

5. Thrift shopping!

Oh boy, the possibilities are endless with this one. Thrift shopping has become the big craze of today as everyone is flocking to the stores trying to find their hidden gem. But you know when nobody will be there? Valentine’s Day! It’s the perfect time to go to your local thrift shop and have some fun! You can do a challenge where you dress each other up in the most outrageous outfits, or you can see who can find the best/ coolest thing. And after, you can wear your outfits to dinner or play with all the cool Knick knacks you found.

Best for: Couples, Gal Pals, Singles

A picture of clothes on racks at a clothing store Prudence Earl

6. See your local concerts or comedy shows

The great thing about living in a college town is that there is always a show or concert being put on.   There’re orchestras, comedy shows and improv performances that will surely be fun for anyone attending. So, go look at what is happening in your local area and support your local performers. Bonus: if you’re a student, admission is usually free for University sanctioned events.

Best for: Couples, Gal Pals, Singles

7. Two words: Karaoke bar.

Do I even need to explain this one? Best time ever.

Best for: Everyone!

Three girls singing Anna Earl

8. The classic pizza and bowling

If you're looking for the non-traditional Valentine's Day route, I got you covered. Bowling is usually not your first idea when planning your dates, but it's super fun. It allows you to interact with your special someone in a way traditional approaches won't let you. You don't have to prepare for anything, you get to see them genuinely focused and bowling allies are great for wearing that cute outfit you've been saving.

Best for: Couples, Gal Pals

9. At home self-care night

Everyone can use a night in where the biggest problem is when you can’t decide which face mask you are going to apply. You can make your own luxurious spa complete with a manicure, pedicure and facial with your favorite snacks and current Netflix obsession to accompany you. The best part is you don’t have to leave your house and your wallet won’t be hurting the next day.

Best for: Singles, Gal Pals

Some skin care products arranged next to flowers Charisse Kenion

10.  Go to an Arcade or have a game night of your own

The lights. The games. The retro music and sounds. Games are the best way to bring people closer together and have a fantastic time. On top of that, the opportunities are endless. You can scrounge up quarters and hit your local arcade. You can also stay in and play the classic like charades, or you can get creative and create an entirely new game to fit you and whoever you’re with this Valentine’s Day.

Best for: Couples, Gal pals

Valentine’s Day  is hard, but it shouldn’t be hard on your wallet if it doesn’t have to be. Just remember to put in some effort and treat the person you’re with nicely and you’ll do great. You got this. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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