PSA — it’s Valentine’s Day.
Did you just inhale sharply and frantically start Googling “last-minute gifts” while simultaneously checking your bank account? Relax. You don’t have to pay big bucks to have flowers delivered to your sweetie’s doorstep in the next eight hours and you don’t have to brave the supermarket rush to grab the last unnecessarily large teddy bear.
The perfect Valentine’s Day should simply show how you feel for your significant other — and you don’t necessarily need a ton of time or money to get those feelings across.
So, avoid losing the rest of your paycheck to the last bouquet at your local florist, and consider these quick, frugal and meaningful gifts instead.
- Write a love letter. The art of writing love letters seems a little lost to time. Winston Churchill and John Keats famously penned romantic letters to their lady loves hundreds of years ago — and they still make us swoon. But you don’t have to be ancient or famous to write your sweetie a love note. Sit down and write out exactly what comes to your mind when you think of your significant other. (Don’t worry if you’re not quite the poet Keats was. It’s the thought that counts! But for a little inspiration, try this BuzzFeed article featuring 15 famous love letters.). For a little extra flare, consider penning your love notes on some of this free stationary. Finish the letter off with a spritz of a scent that your better half associates with you for an intimate and memorable gift. Words: $0. Stationary: $0. The tears in their eyes: priceless.
- Offer a bevvy of heart-shaped foods. If your significant other is a sucker for the more kitschy aspects of Valentines day, consider arriving at their door with an assortment of heart-shaped snacks (and a big hug and / or kiss). If you already have Auntie Anne’s My Pretzel Perks app, you can get a free heart-shaped pretzel with the purchase of another (each pretzel only costs about $3.29). Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits is selling heart-shaped Bo-Berry biscuits, baked with berries, topped with vanilla icing and finished with love for $0.99. And, of course, Dunkin’ Donuts is offering its heart-shaped donuts.
Don’t forget to snap a photo of your significant other with those heart-shaped donuts. Tag a photo showing how your relationship runs on Dunkin’ with #DDLOVECONTEST on Instagram for the chance to win a trip for two to any city in the U.S. with the coffee chain.
- Create a special dinner. Didn’t make a dinner reservation? Don’t have the budget for a fancy restaurant? Make your own romantic dinner at home. Try using The Spruce’s Inexpensive Valentine’s Day Dinner Menu, an easy-to-make dinner complete with roast chicken, rice pilaf and chocolate cake. None of the ingredients are expensive or hard to find, so you can run out right after work or during your lunch break to pick up anything you could be missing. Don’t forget to create some ambiance, too. Dim the lights and light some candles in your kitchen. Throw on some romantic music. Consider Spotify’s Top Valentine’s Day Playlist (don’t worry — you can listen for free if you don’t have a subscription. Just be prepared for some ads.) And speaking of romantic tunes…
- Make your sweetie a mixed tape. It might be a cliche, but we think it’s a pretty cute one. Best Buy sells single cassettes and blank CDs for under $5, according to The Penny Hoarder. Gather a list of tunes that remind you of your relationship. Get creative with it. What song does he or she hum all the time? What song was playing during your first dance? For an extra personal touch, try decorating the cover with a picture of the two of you or some hand-made art.
You can also create a Spotify playlist for your sweetheart for free. You don’t even need Spotify Premium.
The Bottom Line: It’s all about showing your Valentine how much you care. Don’t feel bad about being honest. You can let your sweetheart know Valentines Day slipped your mind — but he or she didn’t. This list barely scratches the surfact of the creative and thrifty last-minute gifts that can show how much you care. There’s also the age-old “coupon book” or you can fold some “love thoughts” into a jar to read later. For more ideas, try reading The Penny Hoarder’s blog post on inexpensive Valentine’s Day gifts. Or, as always, hit up Pinterest.
But mostly, we recommend just following your heart.