Show Me the Effort: 5 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas From the Heart, Not the Wallet

Whether you are a Valentine’s Day cynic or a lovebird who revels in the holiday of romance, chances are your significant other still wants to be shown some love with a gift this February 14.

Most Americans plan to spend nearly $75 on their “better halves,” but for those of us who are feeling the holiday spending blues or simply trying to stay on a budget, there are ways to score a gift-giving victory without dropping a lot of dough.

With relationships, the key is to show you made an effort. And guess what, this small secret can lead to bountiful savings—if you’re willing to put in some thought.

5 Frugal (But Thoughtful) Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

  • Use your past to inform your present. If you struck up your romance at a coffee shop, get your beloved’s favorite beverage to go, and pen in red something cute such as “Will you be my Valentine?” If you went for a cinematic adventure, rent the movie you saw on that first fateful date (as long as it wasn’t awful), and watch it again from the comfort of your couch. Don’t forget to spring for the popcorn. Approximately $5-$15
  • Take some tips from the pros. If you normally aren’t one for the culinary arts, it means all the more if you take time to make a fabulous dinner. Websites such as the have step-by-step photos and videos that walk you through a recipe with a click of a button. Find a dish that doesn’t require a shopping cart full of ingredients or kitchen gadgets, and add candles for bonus points. Approximately $20-$40
  • Be sweet to your sweetie. While boxed chocolates are nice, the cost usually isn’t. Instead, buy a bag of chocolate kisses and get creative. Set them out in the shape of a heart with a note extolling the virtues of your love. If this is too cheesy for you, find other crafty ideas for expressing your feelings from sites such as Pinterest. Approximately $5-$10
  • Go practical. Instead of a dozen roses, which often die in a matter of days and jump in price around Cupid’s holiday, get a potted plant that is just as pretty, but will last—like an orchid. Approximately $15-$30
  • Get in the spirit. If you’re dating a bona fide beer or wine snob, buy a brew or bottle he or she loves but indulges in only on special occasions or that is difficult to find. Note: this can work with any edible item, from specialty cupcakes to your sweetheart’s favorite childhood candy. Approximately $20-$50

If your significant other rather would be taken out on the town than given a gift, check out these tips for going out on holidays, planning a date on the cheap, or using a daily deal coupon to snag a romantic meal at a discount.

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[Any reference to a specific company, commercial product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by the National Endowment for Financial Education.]

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