Has anyone else noticed lately how hard it is to recover from the holiday money crunch? To be perfectly honest, it usually takes me a few months, which is why it’s always a good idea to think about affordable Valentine’s Day ideas since this special day is so soon after. In a world where a single movie ticket costs more than $16 (not including service fees), it can seem like there are very few things to do on a budget. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money if you’re able to use a little imagination.
After all, celebrating February 14 is all about spending time with the one you love (or the ones, if you’re spending it with some girlfriends, which is what I’ll be doing this year). Other than making dinner at home, there are plenty of other fun, creative things that you can do. Keep reading to see 25 affordable Valentine’s Day ideas.
1. Go canoeing. Paddle out to the middle of the lake and take in all the beauty of nature. Bring a bottle of bubbly to enjoy together.
2. Enjoy breakfast in bed. This is an especially good one if you’re in a busy season at work. Wake up just a little bit earlier, and cozy up with your S.O. for an hour or so before you start the day. Just don’t forget to make extra coffee.
3. Do a DIY wine tasting. Wine tasting classes can be costly, but all you need is a few different varietals and these cute wine place mats. Swirl and sip your way to finding your next favorite date-night bottle.
4. Reminisce by looking at old photos. Scroll through your photos on your iCloud or Facebook account—it will be fun to see how you’ve changed over time. This is especially a good one if you’ve been together for a while. Finish the night with a new photo to add to the mix.
5. Give each other massages. Settle in for the night with your S.O. and pamper each other with massages. You can set the spa vibe with a scented candle and some massage oil.
6. Rent a movie. No line, no loud neighbors eating popcorn, no braving the cold weather (if you live up North). Instead of just watching something on Netflix or Hulu, bite the bullet and spend a few dollars renting a new release on Amazon or iTunes.
7. Stage your own photo shoot. Nothing says “I love you” quite like cute photos together. Have a friend take some adorable pics, which you can put up around your place (and on social media if you’re into that).
8. Get out some board games. You can make it nostalgic with games like Guess Who? or Battleship. The best part? Designate a prize for the winner (yes, we like to encourage competition).
9. Go on a hike. Explore the good old outdoors together. Being outside is known to boost happiness, and being together will make it even better.
10. Have an at-home karaoke contest. If you want to up the ante, invite some friends over to compete. Make sure to break out all of the goodies like Taylor Swift and even some Backstreet Boys.
11. Indulge in pizza night. There’s something about making your own pizza and toppings together that’s so romantic. Maybe it’s that you get everything just the way you want it? Regardless, you can go all out and make your pizza heart-shaped.
12. Take a tandem bike ride. Is there anything sweeter? Assuming you don’t have one at home, you can rent a tandem style at a local bike shop.
13. Picnic together. Lay out a cozy blanket in the park (or living room if it’s too cold). Pack a basket of all of your favorites, including cheese, wine, and cured meats. Don’t have time to prepare? If you’re at home, Seamless or Postmates can deliver whatever you need, but just remember that will cost you more.
14. Volunteer together. This one is a win-win. Save money and help out a local organization, especially when other individuals are spending the night out.
15. Enjoy fondue. First big decision: cheese or chocolate? We vote both, if you’ve got time.
16. Write love letters—and read them out loud. Spend a few days before writing love letters to one another. Make a night out of reading them aloud and toasting to the future together.
17. Go see a gallery exhibit. First of all, some of these are free, and you’ll also be escaping the restaurant madness. Grab a hot chocolate or coffee on the way home as a sweet treat.
18. Purchase a deal. If you’ve been together long enough, you won’t mind if you use a Groupon deal for dinner, a spa experience, or the like. Just make sure it’s valid on Valentine’s Day before you purchase.
19. Attend trivia night. Head to the bar and compete against others for the title of trivia champion. Forego a big dinner for bites like sweet potato fries and sliders. (Hey, it’s a holiday, right?)
20. Have a candlelit dinner at home. Few things are more romantic. You’ll spend at least half as much as you would at a restaurant, and you won’t be kicked out to make room for the next seating.
21. Go ice-skating. Bundle up and head out for a night of romance on the ice. If you think of it, ask a passerby to get a photo.
22. Take a bubble bath for two. This is fun in itself or can pair well with the ice-skating excursion above. Whatever you do, sprinkle some rose petals on top of your bubbles.
23. Bake something delicious. And preferably something with chocolate, in honor of the holiday. Short on time? Whip up this two-minute mug cake.
24. Take a record-store excursion. There’s something so cool and vintage about the whole experience. Most stores will let you preview whichever albums you’d like, too.
25. Dance together. At home, in a dance lesson, or even at a salsa club. Valentine’s Day is all about getting close, and this is a great way to do so.