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8 Budget-Smart Valentine's Day Ideas

Feb 13, 2024

Valentine’s Day is one of the most romantic – and most expensive – times of the year. According to the National Retail Federation, the average consumer spent around $193 last Valentine’s Day. In fact, those aged 35-44 spent even more, averaging around $336.

You definitely do not have to spend that much to have an enjoyable, memorable date with your Valentine. Here are some frugal ideas to make your Valentine’s Day great!

#1 – Host an indoor picnic.

Everyone knows a dinner at home costs less than a dinner at a restaurant, but you can spice it up further by getting creative. Clear some space on the floor and spread out a blanket and some pillows. Add candles and soft music, and you’ve got the perfect setup for a romantic indoor picnic! All you need now is some tasty finger foods, such as a heart-shaped pizza or a charcuterie board.

#2 – Take a tour.

The possibilities are endless, and often don’t cost a lot. Consider checking out a local museum, winery or even a ghost tour – many of them even offer discounts for Valentine’s Day or for certain days of the week. Visit somewhere you’ve never been before and just enjoy spending time with your partner!

#3 – Get active in a group.

Many fun activities can get you moving without costing a lot. Make plans with friends or other couples to head out to laser tag ($8-15/person/game), reserve an escape room ($20-40/person), visit a bowling alley ($4-8/person/game) or scope out some other entertaining local activity, then let your inner kid out with some friendly competition and teamwork. Plus, some activities offer discounts for groups or multiple games!

#4 – Go shopping somewhere fun.

A shopping trip doesn’t have to cost a lot; it’s all about location. If you and your partner enjoy shopping around for unique or fun items, consider heading to an antique store, bookstore, candy store or other novelty shop that you’ve yet to visit. Make the whole trip a special treat!

#5 – Hit the arcade.

Many gaming centers charge an upfront fee at the door, then let you play as much as you want without extra charges. Challenge each other, play through a co-op game or just wander the aisles until something strikes your fancy. Alternatively, you can find a more traditional arcade, set a limit for coins, and see how many tickets you can win together – and, of course, exchange them for prizes at the end of the night!

#6 – Have a game night at home.

Don’t feel like going out? Pull out the board games and get ready for a night of fun! If you need more players, invite the rest of the family or another couple over for a double date. Don’t be afraid to bend the rules, either – if your partner won’t trade you their card, maybe adding a kiss to your barter will convince them.

#7 – Hunker down for a movie marathon.

Going out to dinner and a movie can be shockingly expensive, but a movie marathon at home requires few extra costs. Pop some popcorn, bundle up the blankets and turn down the lights for a cozy movie night at home. If you need more movie options, swing by a video rental kiosk or pull up your streaming service of choice and write down some movies ahead of time to save yourself from aimlessly browsing.

Still want the movie theater experience? Check out a budget theater, or consider a different showtime – some theaters offer cheaper tickets depending on the day or time.

#8 – Get creative together.

Keep an eye out for Valentine’s Day deals and take a class together! You could learn to cook a dish, make pottery or some other creative task. Alternatively, you could plan a DIY night in with some cheap art supplies and two canvases. Turn on Bob Ross and paint the same image together, or set up the canvases back to back and surprise each other with a gift at the end of the night!


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