For Valentine’s Day this year, forget about the pressure of spending money. Instead, plan something to do! No roses, fancy jewelry, expensive dinners, or all the overpriced pink and red hearts on everything you see. People will forget, get rid of, or lose presents, but they will always have memories of good times.
Valentine’s Day, for me at least, is about reminding the people I love how loved they really are. My friends, family and S.O. are all part of my V-Day. Sometimes all it takes is a sticky note with hearts on it, a bag of candies, or simply telling the important people in my life that I love them because too often I forget to stop and tell them that.
Maybe I’m actually writing this entire article just so my boyfriend will finally get the hint that I don’t want to put on a dress and pretend to enjoy a fancy meal—I just want McDonald’s in my sweatpants (ahem, Zach!). But this article is also for all the guys (or gals) out there who just might not have the money to spend this Valentine’s Day, and that’s okay! Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun or to show someone you love them—it can be extremely cheap or even free!
So, for this Valentine’s Day, here are eight cheap things you can do with your S.O. or friends to celebrate!
1. Make a Fancy Dinner at Home
Fancy or not, pick a recipe and cook it up! Set the table with some candles and play either fun or romantic music and just go wild. Make something tricky, something you’ve been wanting to try, a favorite, whatever you want. Not everyone loves cooking, but just about everyone loves chowing down on a home-cooked meal, so if you know your S.O. hates cooking, surprise them with their favorite homemade meal. You can even top it off with a homemade dessert if you’re feeling extra sweet. Something like traditional chocolate-covered strawberries can cost a pretty penny, so make your own!
- Make dinner and have it ready for your S.O. when they get there.
- Cook dinner together.
- Make it a competition! Do it Chopped style and choose ingredients you each have to use. Or challenge each other cook-off style and see who can make the same dish better with their own flair. Some friendly competition can be fun and add a little spice to your life!
2. Wine Tasting
A traditional wine tasting date can be kinda spendy! With an at-home wine tasting session, however, it’s much cheaper and you don’t have to worry about finding a sober ride since you’re already home. Pick out a couple of wines, some cheese, crackers and meats, and you have yourself a pretty classy date.
- Aldi has a fantastic brand, Winking Owl, that is really cheap, so you can get a variety of different kinds to try for a pretty decent price!
3. Movie Night
A classic dinner and a movie—forget about it! Have you not heard of Netflix? Pop some popcorn, pick up a bottle of wine, throw some ice cream in the freezer and scroll through some rom-coms to really impress your girl. If you make it through an entire rom-com without an eye roll or annoying comment, she’ll really be in love by the end.
- How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
- The Proposal
- 27 Dresses
- The Notebook (or any Nicholas Sparks movies)
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a big romantic production. It can also be a day you share your love with others. It might surprise you just how fun volunteering can be—you just have to find the right one for you!
- Go to the Humane Society
- Visit a senior living facility
- Call around local churches and volunteer services and see if they have anything you and your S.O. can volunteer for
5. Winter Walk
Head outside for a winter hike, and if you’re really brave, a picnic too. If it’s a nice enough day and you bundle up enough, a light hike with a picnic finish can be really fun and romantic… just don’t forget the hot chocolate!
- If it’s a bit cold, walk around the lakes.
- If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, hiking up to Sugar Loaf or around the Hollinger Trails are always beautiful!
- Head behind St. Mary’s, which also has a very easy walking trail that would be great for snowshoeing.
6. Plan an Activity
Now, this is pretty vague, but it leaves it up to your own creativity! Figure out what your girl likes and plan something that includes it. If she likes to paint, set up some canvases and paints; if she likes face masks, have a little spa night set up for her; if she likes to knit, have her teach you how and you can do it together. Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to do something you don’t usually do together, together.
- Practice some yoga
- Have a spa night with facemasks and all things relaxing
- Play board games
7. Play Tourist in Your Own Town
Take the day to go exploring! Visit local coffee shops, museums, shops, and anything else you’ve been meaning to see but just haven’t gotten around to it.
- Minnesota Marine Art Museum
- Blooming Grounds
- Beno’s Deli
- Downtown shops
8. Go for a Drive
Hop in your car and see where the road takes you! You could find a new small town, see some cool sights, or stumble across a new restaurant or something that will be a future favorite. If all else fails, turn up the tunes and sing along or have a nice conversation while you drive around. Car rides are great for deep chats and for singing at the top of your lungs to your favorite bops.
If you’re not Zach, I hope you can still find some inspiration from this article and surprise your S.O. with some thoughtful creativity this Valentine’s Day.
If you take away nothing else from this article, here’s one final tip: save the V-Day shopping for after Valentine’s Day when those sweet clearance candies are a steal.