With a little creativity, you can surprise your sweeties this Valentine’s Day without spending a shocking amount of money. Here are some ideas to get you started:
For Your Sweetheart
From the Heart: Remember writing notes and passing them to friends in class? Between texts, emails, and Facebook messages, you probably haven’t written an actual note in a while. Bring back the lost art by penning a letter to your sweetie, listing all of the reasons you love him or her. This sentimental treasure will be cherished for years to come.
Date Night Jar: Break out of your dinner-and-a-movie rut with a handful of fun — and inexpensive — date-night ideas. From a backyard picnic to a trip to the museum or creating a photo album together, ideas abound online. After you’ve come up with a variety of options, write them down on popsicle sticks and put them in a decorated jar to enjoy throughout the year.
Create a Playlist: If it’s difficult for you to find the words to express your love, turn to music. Browse your digital library and choose songs with special meaning, such as the first dance at your wedding, the first movie you saw together, or a concert you went to.
For the Kiddos
Sweet Treats: Put a Valentine’s Day twist on favorite goodies by cutting brownies or cookies into heart shapes, or creating one giant heart-shaped cookie. Use frosting to write sweet messages. Or, invite kids into the kitchen to bake and create together, making a memory that will last much longer than any present.
“Old” Movie Night: Buy a classic movie you loved when you were a kid (they are less than $10 online and in stores) and host a special screening. Share your memories about the first time you saw the movie, who you were with, your favorite moments, etc. Kids will love the glimpse into your childhood. Some titles to consider: Wizard of Oz, E.T., Mary Poppins, Annie, and the Sound of Music.
Scavenger Hunt: This gift is all about the journey. Make clues that are special to your family, such as where the cat likes to hide her toy, or where a secret stash of candy can always be found. At the end, celebrate with their favorite meal for dinner together.
For Friends or Teachers
A Rose by any Other Name: Roses don’t have to come by the dozen to make a statement. Brighten any desk or table with a single bloom in a decorated jar or a simple vase. Or, find a tutorial online to create your own flower with tissue paper, fabric, or burlap. It’ll last longer than the real thing, plus you’ll get extra points for the handmade sentiment.
Color Me Surprised: Let color be your guide to create this one-of-a-kind gift. For her, choose pink or red nail polish or lipstick paired with the same color gum and candy. For him, choose orange or yellow and put Mello Yellow or Orange Crush soda in a box surrounded by monochrome jelly beans or other candy.
Break Time: Give the gift of a well-deserved rest with a “break basket” filled with his or her favorite beverage, such as coffee, tea, or soda, and a homemade snack, such as popcorn, cookies, or chocolate.
Whatever you give your valentines this holiday, know that it doesn’t have to be expensive to be appreciated and remembered.