40 Ridiculously Cheap (and Creative) Valentine’s Day Ideas

valentines-day-gift-ideasAre you a little bit cheap like me?

As a lifelong cheapskate, I have often been bemused by the amount of money people spend to prove to their spouses, children, and families just how much they love them.

No time is this more evident than on February 14 of each year, when love advertising goes into overdrive to convince consumers that true love is measured by wallet thickness.

For sweethearts on a budget, the prospect of children’s parties at school, gifts or mementos from parents to kids, and the all-important Valentine’s gift between spouses can make you wish that the calendar could just skip from January to March.

Fortunately, making this year the most memorable Valentine’s Day yet for your loved ones can cost next to nothing.

Here are 40 cheap Valentine’s Day ideas that will leave your wallet untouched and your sweetheart (or kids) delighted.

Valentine’s Day Gifts for Him or Her

Despite what the diamond, chocolate, and rose industries might advertise, it is possible to have a romantic Valentine’s Day without spending a ton of money on your sweetheart. Though the word “budget” does not necessarily call romance to mind, “creative” certainly does.

Knowing your sweetheart is the key to providing a romantic, memorable, and inexpensive Valentine’s gift for him or her.

Here are some ideas for letting your love know how you feel, without sacrificing your budget:

Acts of Service

Take over a chore for your beloved. Surprise your sweetheart by simply doing the chore—exactly how he or she would do it—before they get the chance. It’s a little act of romance that will be greatly appreciated.

The Classic Mix Tape

Make a mix tape. You remember those? A collection of your favorite songs, or songs with a specific theme. Mix “tapes” are made much easier these days because of iTunes. To take this gift to the next level, consider including new wireless earbuds for your sweetheart to use while listening to the music mix.

SENSO Bluetooth Headphones Price: $29.97 SENSO Bluetooth Headphones

No-Tech 24

Just turn off your tech for 24-hours. These days, we are all addicted to our phones and social media feeds. Give your sweetheart the gift of your undivided attention for Valentine’s Day.

Hand-Written Note

Write a special, hand-written note. Tell your special someone exactly what you love about them, or your favorite memories with them. Nothing says I love you like your own words.

Loveland Letter

Get a Valentine’s themed postmark on your love note by mailing your pre-addressed and stamped love letter to Loveland Colorado, where they will postmark the letter and mail it to your sweetheart for you. The address: Postmaster, Valentine Re-Mailing, 446 E. 29th St., Loveland, CO 80538.

In-Store Card Exchange

Give Valentine’s cards to each other—at the store. Some couples like to go to the card store together and pick out cards, then read them to each other. Pick a funny one and a sweet one. Then, when you’re done, just put the cards back. It’s a fun outing and it doesn’t cost a thing.

Little Love Notes

Hide notes or candy hearts where you know your beloved will find them. For instance, you could tape a love note to her steering wheel, slip another one in her wallet, and another onto her toothbrush.

Instagram Photo Book

Print an inexpensive photo book of your favorite Instagram moments together. Chatbooks is a great, easy app that accesses your Instagram account directly.

Potted Plant vs Flowers

Consider a potted plant. Not only will that be a gift that your beloved can keep year-round, but they tend to be less expensive than cut flowers. Some stores offer potted miniature rose plants or other flowering plants. These last long after cut flowers fade.

Desktop Potted Stand Price: $11.99 Desktop Potted Stand

Pre-Order Flowers

If you prefer cut flowers, they are much less expensive if you purchase from a supermarket florist, rather than a stand-alone or online store. You can save even more if you order your supermarket flower arrangement at least two weeks in advance, and pay upfront.

Bulk Buy Flowers with a Friend

Another way to save on cut flowers is to get together a number of other romantic-minded friends and place all of your orders to the same florist at once. That can help you get a bulk discount. Then shop thrift stores, Salvation Army, or Good Will for a special container to use as a vase for the flowers.

Eat Edible Flowers

Make “roses” from strawberries with nothing more than a pound of strawberries and some bamboo skewers. If you get some dipping chocolate or whipped cream, you’ve also made yourself a bouquet of dessert.

DIY Gift Basket

If you’d like to recreate one of the cute gifts florists also sell, look for Valentine’s Day themed coffee mugs, or red and white (or pink) dishes, and other decorations. Then you can fill the themed dishware with candy or other treats, and wrap with colored cellophane from the dollar store. It’s a lovely Valentine’s gift for less than half the cost from a florist or gift store.

Fun Technology Gadget

Valentine's Day is always a good time for a fun technology gift, too. If your sweetheart loves the latest gadgets shop for an Echo Dot. It is reasonably priced and great to hook up to all your smart devices.

Echo Dot Price: $49.99 Echo Dot

Valentines Day Date Ideas

Valentines Day Date IdeasExperience trumps stuff every time. Get out there and live the adventure with your sweetheart with these Valentine's Day date ideas.

Scavenger Hunt

Create a Valentine’s scavenger hunt, with riddles your sweetheart must answer to reach the next clue.

One-Time Dance Class

Take a one-time dance class. Many dance studios offer low-cost (or even free) one-time two-hour classes. This is a great opportunity to learn something new together.

“From Scratch” Meal

Cook a nice meal from scratch.

If you rarely do any cooking, take this opportunity to make a special effort to whip up something nice. Or, if you both like to cook, why not make a date to make a special meal together?

A service like Blue Apron makes this very easy. My wife and I have used it before and had a blast cooking together. Get started with 3 free meals on your first order of Blue Apron.


Plan a picnic if the weather is nice. You supply the food and drink and a nice blanket. Find your favorite place and just hang out. (This is obviously only feasible for Texans and other Southerners, or those who have an indoor favorite picnic spot.)

Walk or Bike Together

Go for a walk or a bike ride. How long has it been since you and your loved one did something active together? If being more active is a goal your sweetheart has you can give them a fitness tracker on your walk together.

Fitbit Flex 2 Price: $59.95 Fitbit Flex 2

Redbox Movie Night

Plan a movie night at home. Get free movies with Redbox using their codes, or just pay $1.50. Add some popcorn and some candy for a traditional movie date.

Library Movie Night

Instead of Redbox, check out the romantic movies available at your local library. You can find some of the great old romances from the golden age of film at the library—which you certainly cannot find at Redbox. For instance, look for:

  • Casablanca
  • An Affair to Remember
  • It Happened One Night
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • The Philadelphia Story
  • Bringing Up Baby
  • The Lady Eve

If your Valentine loves to take a weekly trip to the library an e-reader is also a great gift! Many libraries are moving toward more electronic resources, making an e-reader a book lover's necessity.

Kindle E-reader Price: $79.99 Kindle E-reader

Dine Out On the Cheap

Go out to eat. No, I don’t mean having a ridiculously expensive Valentine’s dinner—but if you are sold on the romantic Valentine’s meal out, there are ways to be a frugal diner:

  • Use the tricks you’ve learned to save money when dining out.
  • White Castle has the classic dinner for two—great for a date night. An added bonus is that it will make you feel like a love struck (and cash-strapped) teenager again.
  • Try having Valentine’s lunch or breakfast out, rather than dinner.
  • Skip dinner and go out for coffee and dessert at a very upscale restaurant.

Become a “Local Tourist”

Discover your city. Spend the day visiting local landmarks and museums.

Bring Hot Chocolate

Depending on where you live and the weather in your area, plan a day outside. Go ice-skating and carry a thermos of hot chocolate.

Valentine’s Day Gifts and Activities for Kids

valentines day for kidsIf you're like me, you've got kids to think about on this holiday too. Here are a few fun and cheap Valentine's Day gift and activities for kids.

Card Packs for the Classroom

The yearly Valentine exchange in the primary school classroom is an important part of American childhood. Luckily, classroom packs of Valentine’s cards are inexpensive, and they often include a card for the teacher. What gets expensive are all the other expectations for Valentine’s Day in kid world. Here are some ways to lower those costs.

Kids Valentine Treats Price: $14.99 Kids Valentine Treats

Homemade Treats

Make cookies or cupcakes at home instead of getting the Valentine treats from the bakery. You can easily make heart-shaped cupcakes in a regular muffin tin even if you do not have any themed cookie cutters or baking pans. Fill your cupcake liners in the muffin tin with batter as usual, but then place a marble between the liner and the tin for each cupcake. The marble makes the cupcake bake into a heart shape.

Printable Cards

If your kids want to make their own cards, but you don’t already have a stash of craft supplies and construction paper, you can print out Valentines. See this list from PopSugar. These can be printed in black-and-white for your kids to color in, or in color if they’d like to just cut them out.

Dollar Store Bag O' Balloons

Showering your kids with balloons doesn’t mean you have to buy mylar balloons with licensed characters. Instead, get a dollar bag of latex balloons and blow them all up for a fun-filled party. You can also fill each balloon with confetti (which you can make with old magazines and a hole punch) so your kids can have the fun of popping them. Consider also placing a little love note in each balloon. If you must have balloons that float on their own, some party stores and dollar stores will blow up latex balloons for a small fee.

Dollar Store Stuffed Animal

A small stuffed animal from the dollar store works just as well as the high-priced toy from gift shops or toy stores.

Valentine's Day Games

Making this year the most memorable Valentine's Day yet for your family can cost next to nothing. Here are some cheap Valentine's Day ideas that will leave your wallet untouched and your family delighted.The gift of time means more than material goods ever could. Create a long-lasting Valentine memory by playing a love-themed game with your child. Some games your children will love include:

At-Home Restaurant

Create a restaurant at home. Get the whole family involved in making a romantic meal. The children can create menus, decorate the “bistro,” and help with the cooking. They can also pretend to be the server.

Love Centerpiece

Make a love centerpiece. Fill a vase with pebbles, sand, or beans, and place several small branches in it. Cut hearts out of paper, and write things you love about each other on each one, then tape them to the branches.

Valentine's Day Library Visit

Head to the library before the big day and check out books about Valentine’s Day to read together.

Poster Board Valentine

Create a huge poster board Valentine, using candy bars as your adjectives.

Check out more ideas in this funny video by What the Fain:

It really is what is in your heart that counts. Count your dollars saved as part of helping keep your budget in line while making Valentine’s Day special. The values you teach your children about sharing without overspending is an act of love, as is keeping your budget healthy for both you and your sweetie.

Have a happy and cheap Valentine's Day this year!

Need more ideas? See more Valentine's Day savings and sales.

About Emily Guy Birken

Emily Guy Birken is a former English teacher and respected personal finance blogger. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her engineer husband and two high-energy little boys. She has written four books: The Five Years Before You Retire, Choose Your Retirement, Making Social Security Work For You, and End Financial Stress Now. Emily's thoughts on parenting and life in general are found at The SAHMnambulist.


  1. Horrible cheesy OBVIOUS ideas! It appears you lack creativity and compiled several of your ideas from other pages also. AND – What a joke! Go to the library and get a free movie? What is this the 1986 Popcorn and Movie Day from grade school? Your ideas suck. Oh sure come on babe lets go to the local drug store and read each other a card then put them back on the shelf and leave??!?!?!? WHAT? I could right 50 better ideas off the top of my head. Maybe you should hire me to write for you so the other 98% of your readers who agree with me come back…. I may not.

    Bet you won’t approve this comment because you wouldn’t want any bad comments that are TRUE.

    • JW,

      Do you know what this blog is about? It’s seems to me that its about doing more with less. I came to this site for good ideas. They may be cheesy but if we and our spouses accept living a bit frugal and still enjoy each other, then great for us. Remember, Valentine’s isn’t about giving all your money to a company to show your significant other your feelings, it’s about showing your love or feelings. Money doesn’t need to be spent to do this.

      I’d really enjoy seeing some of your great suggestions. Maybe I will follow your blog also. It doesn’t appear that you have a blog that adds to our lives. Be creative like the rest of us are trying to do with our lives.

      By the way, this is not my blog so maybe I’m being too negative myself. Love to hear your positive suggestions.

    • Philip Taylor says:

      Sorry we disappointed, JW. I hope you got a Valentine.

  2. Tissue King says:

    Make Valentine’s an everyday event and you never have to worry about that special day. What I saying is treat your spouse special everyday. I haven’t celebrated Valentine’s once in my 20 years of marriage.

    • Love your comment! My husband and I have almost been married 10 years, and we really don’t do “Valentine’s Day” – it’s a Hallmark holiday. We end up spending the evening with our kids doing something special at home. I feel sorry for those who wait until a special day- Anniversary or V-Day to wait for the love to be shown. I also feel bad for the husbands of those wives, who feel they deserve something. I am happily married and my husband & kids are enough for me. My husband and I have always made sure to do something or say something nice everyday. (even when we are mad-he will still come by, pinch my booty, and tell me I’m gorgeous!

  3. Quick Loans says:

    Sit on the couch, start cute little talks, reminisce your happy moments, plan your future, set relationship goals,… And say heartwarming words that you do not say to your partner in an ordinary day…. Don’t forget kisses and hugs…

  4. great ideas, I will take my sweetheart to dinner and in meantime i will place Little Love Notes on pillow to read them when we return, thanks for idea.

  5. Kimberly Sturgis says:

    I say; “think love” “think fun” “think relaxing/hold each others hand for a few”, act giddy..get dressed up& just go bowling!..go back home/relax for an hour then back out again&stopto a pub for a quick drink,play a $2 game of Keno while playing both of your favorite song on the jukebox&shoot a game of pool while flurting&being lovey the whole time because how often do we get a chance to just be together&have NO plans?so get dressed&have a happy/relaxing funtime w/the person that wants2be with you today,theyr obviously your love&your friend..Kim Sturgis_Muskegon,MI..

  6. Fred finance says:

    Large list, I like the idea of giving cards in the shop saves a unnecessary expense!

  7. planetbake says:

    Wow this is really amazing concept.

  8. Matthew Coan says:

    I use my credit card rewards points every Valentines Day. This way I can still do something nice and I dont have to worry about it impacting my budget.

  9. Kanwal Sarai says:

    These are great frugal tips!

  10. My mom used to write our Valentine’s out on huge poster board using candy bars as adjectives. Pretty awesome idea.

  11. AverageJoeMoney says:

    Remember the most romantic part of the White Castle dinner for two: the sexy “feed each other Tums” dessert. Yum!