This post was co-authored by Craig and Jeri Ford. Jeri wrote it. Craig stole it, and added some of his own thoughts and ideas.
Jeri is an amazing wife who always writes fantastic posts for her personal blog. Occasionally, (like this post) her husband (that’s me) steals them for his own site. Craig was jealous of her giftedness and convinced her to come on board as a regular writer for Help Me Travel Cheap, a frugal family travel blog. If you’re interested in writing your own guest post, contact me.
Before you rush out the night before Valentine’s Day and pick up the leftover wilted flowers at your nearest convenience store, check out these ideas. There is no doubt that I’m a big fan of home made gifts. In fact, many of these 50 homemade Christmas gift suggestions can evolve into some awesome Valentine’s gift ideas too.
There are more ways to show love than chocolates and diamonds. Showing your valentine that you love them can be inexpensive and thoughtful if you take a little extra time and creativity. After all, it is the thought that counts, isn’t it?
One year I got a friend to help guide me around the jungle bush area here to find some wild flowers. I gave those flowers to Jeri as a gift to plant in our garden. All but two of the flowers died, but to this day my wife still loves the gift (at least she says she does).
Bonus tip: Know your spouse’s love language (The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts). If you know how they ‘hear’ I love you then you can scan over this list to find the perfect idea that will speak to them. For example, if they are a person who loves words of affirmation, try #4. If time is their love language, then go for #2 or #5. Even if gifts are their love language you can create your own gift like #10 says. Personalize this list and you’ll have a great Valentine’s Day gift.
1. Instead of eating out (again!), make dinner for your spouse.
This will be much cheaper than eating at a restaurant and allows you to be a little more creative. Make something you rarely make that you know he or she loves. When you avoid the restaurant you also avoid the hoards of people who eat out on Valentine’s Day.
Don’t be afraid to use the fancy china usually reserved only for special guests.
Add a homemade heart-shaped dessert to top off the delicious meal.
2. Take a long walk together.
If it’s cold, bundle up and head out for a long walk. It’s much easier to talk when you walk together because there’s nothing else to do. Make sure you do your fair share of listening, too.
Instead of stopping at the nearest Starbucks afterward, head home and make your own cup of hot tea, hot apple cider, or favorite coffee and cuddle on the couch.
If you need a babysitter and your family is not available, try forming a frugal community and doing a baby sitter exchange. Sure, you might not be able to go out on Valentine’s Day, but just plan an at-home date that night and go out a few nights later.
3. Make your own Valentine’s Day card.
Buying a Hallmark card is easy, but it’s definitely not the most meaningful way to express your emotions.
This activity is not limited to elementary school children. Borrow your kids’ glue, scissors, and construction paper and get to work on your own card to say “I love you”.
4. Write a story or blog post for your Valentine.
If you enjoy writing, draft a creative story for your true love. If you maintain a blog, write and dedicate a post to honor someone you care about.
5. Plan an inexpensive getaway.
Use Hotels.com or Hotwire.com or Priceline to plan a spontaneous getaway for a night or weekend. These two sites let you book cheap last minute hotels. If you don’t want to drive a long distance, consider getting a hotel right in your own town.
Take your own snacks and breakfast foods to save on dining costs. Don’t be embarrassed to use Entertainment Book coupons or other discounts.
6. Do an at-home date.
This saves on the cost of your meal and babysitting fees. Put the kids to bed first, then transform one room of your home into a ‘restaurant’ or any other venue you’d like to be in. You can even plan the event together – one person can be in charge of food, the other creates the right atmosphere.
Our last at home date – dinner on the back porch.
7. Have a popcorn picnic.
Invite your Valentine to a popcorn picnic. Instead of using microwave popcorn, pour your love and effort into making your own popcorn on the stove. It’s much cheaper and healthier that way, too. In small bowls, offer a variety of popcorn flavors at your picnic: spicy (add taco seasoning), sweet (sprinkle with powdered sugar), buttery, or any other flavor you can think of. Top it off with a homemade note, and your Valentine will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
8. Do something your Valentine has always wanted you to do with them.
Maybe she’s always wanted you to ice skate with her or participate in her swing dance lesson. Maybe he’s been waiting to show you his car collection or help him write a song. Participate in one of your Valentine’s favorite activities – even if you’re not good at it. It will give you both something to laugh about.
What better way to show someone you love them than to serve them? You could try giving them coupons for things you’d like to do for them. (I’ve tried giving coupons to many people and have had very few ever redeemed.) Instead of offering to do something, just do it.
If your spouse usually bathes the kids at night, take a turn or two. If you don’t usually do the cooking, give your Valentine a break (you might even grow to like black pancakes). Find a way to serve – with a smile.
10. Make a homemade Valentines Day gift.
Do you like to sew or build? Scrapbook, paint, or draw? Use one of your many talents and make a gift that your Valentine is sure to treasure. They’ll love the fact that it’s made from your own hands and heart and not bought from a store. Need some inspiration? Start with these 50 homemade gift ideas or try these 101 ways to give.
Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography.
What other ways can you show your Valentine you love them on this special holiday without spending lots of money?