My husband and I got married just a few days before Valentine's Day. Originally we had scheduled the wedding for just after Valentine's Day, and my husband being the Dutchman that he is, was excited that our anniversary would always fall at a time when roses would be on sale. Needless to say when we changed the date, we had to find new ways to be frugal for our anniversary.
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With that in mind, I thought I'd put together a list of a few ways to have fun for Valentine's Day without spending undue funds. Despite all the commercial advertising in our culture telling us that we need flowers, jewelry, and an expensive night out to show how much we love another person, there are deeper riches to be found in finding simple, creative ways to celebrate love and nurture romance.
Instead of going out for dinner, do a formal dinner at home. Use a nice tablecloth and your best dishes. Put on candles and music. Prep a multi-course meal ahead of time. If you really want to, get dressed up. If you want to include the kids (mine love this kind of thing), have them help by setting the table, serving the meal, and choosing the music.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, but equally joyful and love-celebration-worthy, have an inside picnic. Serve easy-to-eat finger foods – a fresh loaf of bread, cheese, pate, hummus, fruit, dessert and drink a good wine or ale. If you don't have small children around, consider doing fondue as well. Cheese or chocolate are especially fun!
If you have time alone, use it as an excuse to pamper each other. Give each other massages with rosewater-scented olive oil, wear thick terry robes while you drink champagne or raspberry water kefir in fluted glasses, and curl up together in a cozy place.
Find a free or inexpensive play or concert at your local community college, university, or a local city theater. Youth orchestras also often have excellent concerts for cheap prices – and you're supporting burgeoning artists!
Bake a sourdough black forest cake for your beloved.
Spend the evening together playing with words – play a simple board game like Wordigo, write poetry together (choose a style, like haiku, to get yourself started), or make a list together of things you're grateful for (see if you can think of 100 things by the end of the evening). These activities can be surprisingly intimate, joyful, and just plain fun.