Believe it or not, there are lots of ways to celebrate Valentines Day with your parter that don’t involve spending heaps of money. Think outside the box – and outside the restaurant – and you’ll find yourself surrounded with frugal opportunities for romance. This year, Valentines Day falls on a Saturday, which means you will have all day to explore fun, free activities in your neighborhood. Here are fifty examples, with help from my blogger friends and twitter followers!
1. Go ice-skating. Take a hot thermos filled with hot chocolate with you (see recipes for frugal hot chocolate mix or peppermint hot chocolate!) Tip: sneak a little rum or Bailey’s in it for an extra treat!
2. Prepare your own “pub night” at home - enjoy delectable snacks and guilty pleasures without worrying about the cost. For how-to instructions, click here.
3. Visit your neighbourhood Botanical Gardens. Many are free – others may cost $10 or less.
4. Go sledding. What could be more fun than reconnecting with your fun, free-wheeling, inner child. Wrap your arms tightly around your partner as you speed down a snow-covered hill.
5. Have a spa day at home. Pamper each other with mani/pedis, a luxurious bath, and homemade treatments.
6. Tea in the tub - Wisebread suggests giving a bath and pedicure to your loved one along with a delicious cup of tea and candlelight.
7. Make a scrapbook – another suggestion from Wisebread, but it’s one I recommend as well. We did this last Valentines day. Gather up your cards, photos, and any little mementos or souvenirs you have from your relationship – such as tickets to plays or movies, receipts from special purchases you made, love notes, etc. Get crafty with construction paper, stickers and markers to create a scrapbook that captures the story of your relationship. You will have just as much fun making it as you will looking it from years to come.
8. Make a slide show - Wisebread also suggests making video compilation with music.
9. Make a romantic meal together. Wisebread had some great tips for greating atmosphere:
Whether you are in extreme northern climes and going for a romantic candlelight breakfast, or implementing a simple seafood dinner of seared scallops and shucked oysters ( London Lennies restaurant has instructional videos on both here ), you can make the most of the experience using things you already have around the house. A pressed tablecloth, intricately folded napkins, candles galore, wine and water goblets, a specially printed menu and some specially created background music will make whatever you serve seem exceptional.
10. Whip up some luscious, yet easy, desserts - such as chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate mousse, or fondue.
11. Rent some of your all-time favourite romantic movies – or go the opposite direction and rent the cheesiest movies you can think of, and then make fun of them then entire way through. Make your movies special by whipping up a batch of delicious homemade snacks – see my recipes for various dips and snacks – or check out my recipes for yummy toasted almonds.
12. Have a tea-party at home. To see how, visit my post on how to host a tea party at home, or check out my post on how to make scones and cream.
Suggestions from The Simple Dollar:
13. Look for free concerts. Many communities have free Valentine’s Day concerts by municipal groups that don’t get widely publicized. Take a look at your community calendar and see what’s out there to do for free on that day.
14. Bake some cookies. Take a good chocolate chip cookie recipe – and add to it an ingredient that you know your partner will like. For example, my wife has baked me a batch of cookies before that were basically just chocolate chip cookies – but they also had cherries in them, cherries that were soaked in cherry liqueur before baking. It didn’t cost her much more than an hour or two of time and a couple dollars’ worth of ingredients, but the gift was not only delicious, but memorable.15. Do something silly. One year, we were snowed in on Valentine’s Day. What did we do? We put on some mood music, ate dinner together… and then colored. Seriously. We got out some printer paper and a box of crayons and drew pictures of various things. We gave the pictures to each other, too, and I still have mine.
16. Get refreshed. Put on pajamas, have a drink together, and relax in the most comfortable room in your home. Give each other a massage. Hold each other. Fall asleep in each other’s arms. Get a great night’s sleep. You’ll wake up the next day physically and emotionally refreshed without spending any money at all.
17. Consciously agree to save for something. Let’s say, hypothetically, you’re saving for a down payment. Instead of planning an elaborate Valentine’s Day celebration, stay at home, do some planning for this big step in your life, and put that $100 you saved into your savings account for that down payment. Apply this same principle to other “big” days in your life (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) and you’ll find yourself much closer to your big dream.
18. Volunteer. If you’re both socially conscious (and also adding in the fact that Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year), why not spend the day involved with a volunteer project together instead of doing the typical date thing? Help build a Habitat house. Serve a meal at the local food kitchen. Do some drudge work for a charity that matters to both of you. That way, the day means something beyond merely spending time together – and it doesn’t cost anything.
19. Organize your photos. Kaycee from In The Moment says: “One year on Valentine’s day my husband and I ended up organizing a box of photos into photo albums. We had such a great time that we have made it a point to go through the previous year’s photos every V day. It’s cheesy, but it’s a great walk down memory lane and usually sparks some fun conversations.”
Amy from The Finer Things suggests:
20. Make a restaurant fave at home - check out Amy’s Valentines Meal plan. She also suggests putting a fun spin on the day by making food into heart shapes.
21. Check out your public library. Not just to borrow books or movies, but for local events. You might find an interesting talk or movie showing.
22. Visit an art gallery or museum. Find out which ones are free in your neighborhood. For the month of February, the McRae house in Guelph is free.
23. Get back to nature. Head out for a winter walk along trails you haven’t explored.
24. Go for a fun run. Join together with a running group or just head out the two of you. Many running groups have weekend runs and you can pair up with a group that matches your preferred distance. In Guelph, for example, Running Works has group runs starting at 8:00am.
25. Have a carpet picnic. Remember in Pretty Woman how Julia Roberts sprawled out in front of I Love Lucy with some champagne and strawberries? What could be more fun than a few indulgences, an indoor picnic, and some good old fashion laughs?
26. Breakfast in bed. Treat your spouse. It’s a great way to wake-up and spend the first few hours of your day!
27. Serenade your lover with a love song using whatever talents you have – on the guitar, piano, – hey, even bongos or a recorder would do!
28. Take a long walk on the beach. It became a cliché because everyone likes them! Even if you live in a cold climate, a refreshing walk on a frozen beach can be really lovely.
29. Take part in a free yoga class. It will find you refreshed, relaxed and more connected with each other. For suggestions on how to find a free or otherwise affordable class, read my post “affordable fitness“. Or try some yoga at home.
30. Work out together. In the same post mentioned above, I discuss how to find free passes at fitness clubs. Call around or drop-in. Many fitness clubs will give you a free day-pass to try it out. Search coupon booklets for free passes as well.
31. Star gaze. If you live in a warm climate, drive out of the city into a quiet, serene area and climb on to the back of the car, or lay down on the ground. Make sure you are somewhere safe – beyond that, just relax and enjoy. Curl up in a blanket to keep warm.
32. Make a list of your happiest, funniest memories together.
33. Make a board game. This will take some creativity, but if you are crafty people, it can be a lot of fun.
34. Play board games. Pull out your most treasured games or maybe some classics you haven’t touched in years.
35. Have a “diner night” with hamburgers, milkshakes and music from the 50′s.
36. Create an art project together. If you are an artist, share your skills. Teach your spouse how to paint. Or have fun by making crafts or collages together.
37. Make a “tapas menu” with yummy appetizers to graze on throughout the evening.
38. Read poetry to each other and/or write a special poem for you lover.
39. Meditate together . Light some candles and find a peaceful, quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Simply observe the feeling of your abdomen rising and falling. When your attention drifts, gently guide it back towards your breath.
40. Be photographers for a day. Go outside and explore – find what is beautiful or interesting and snap away. Explore different angles and distances. Appreciate your surroundings.
41. Play a homemade trivia game. Write down the answers to questions about yourself. Then ask your partner the questions and see if she or he gets it right.
42. Treat each other to a massage. Use a calming scented oil, light some candles and play some calming music to create a spa-like feeling. For added comfort and relaxation, place a pillow under your hips and feet when you lie on your stomach, between your arms and legs when on your side, and under your knees when on your back. Warm the sheets with electric heating pads or an electric blanket, or use a hot water bottle.
43. Dance. You don’t have to leave the house. Just put on some favourite music and dance together. You can have a romantic dance to “your song” but you can also put on some Michael Jackson and moon walk around the house or play some Chubby Checker and twist together. Relax and let loose.
44. Luxuriate. Use your finest – not just for dinner, but throughout the day. Use your fancy tea cups. Your finest bath products. The best bottle of wine you have. Wear nice clothes. Share and enjoy whatever luxuries you have in your own home. Whatever you have been saving, now is the time.
45. Make a compilation of your favourite Valentine’s Day tv shows. Curl up on the couch and have a marathon.
46. Play cocktail. Whip up your favourite cocktails and some salty snacks.
47. Plan your future. Think about what you want for yourself and for your relationship for years to come. List your shared goals. Use this time to get back on track or to connect about what is important to you in the world.
48. Do some reading. Take the day to relax, reading and relaxing to each other on the couch. Share your favourite passages with each other.
49. Explore a new neighbourhood. Take a long walk in a part of the city you haven’t explored. Do some window shopping. Admire the architecture. Explore new galleries, bookstores, or whatever that part of town has to offer.
50. Be together. Whatever you do, be present. Look into each other’s eyes. Listen to one another. Play, tickle, and laugh. Be thankful for each other. Truly appreciating one another and just being together, no matter what you do, won’t cost a thing. In fact the time you’ll spend together is truly priceless.
Have a great tip to share? What is your favourite idea for a fun, free Valentines Day?