Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and if you’re anything like me, you probably still haven’t decided what you and your S/O are getting up to that evening… Sure, I’ve thought about it, but so many of the most popular options out there are just too expensive for couples on a budget. (And honestly, is there anything quite as sexy as saving money?)
It’s hard to get into a romantic mood if you’re forced to overspend on a Valentine’s Day date night, so with that in mind, I put together this list of dinner, gift and date ideas for marking the holiday with your significant other no matter how much you’re able to spend.
Plan a memorable meal… in your price range
Yes, you should absolutely take your sweetheart out for a bite, but you don’t have to go to the hottest spot in the city.
$25: Improvised Dinner At Home
Dust off the old recipe book and see what ingredients you already have hiding in your pantry. A one-pot dish of soup, chili, or spaghetti can easily be made within this price range, and if you already have most of the ingredients, you can spend any leftover cash on a nice candle or flowers. A small splurge on a bouquet can elevate this dine-in date to a special occasion.
$50: Wine & Dine & Get Creative
With a $50 budget, you can afford to get creative — do a quick Google recipe search for an exotic dish that you and your partner have been dying to try. Surprise them with your newfound cooking skills (and the perfect wine pairing) and enjoy the quiet night in with each other. As with the above suggestion, opt-in on the flowers and candy, and leave the dishwashing until the next day.
$100: Dine Out At A Place With A Prix Fixe Menu
Many restaurants seem to hike prices on Valentine’s Day, but if you choose a spot with a prix fixe menu, you’ll know that you can sample multiple dishes within a set price range. Never been to a place with a prix fixe before? This is a great time to branch out and try something new. Find something romantic with a relaxed vibe so you two can truly enjoy your time together over a great meal.
$150+: Romantic Is Your Middle Name
You’re ready to go, and Valentine’s Day is your day. Show your partner what you’ve got. Candlelit dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town? Check. A fancy bottle of wine and a bouquet of roses? Check and check.
A thoughtful gift speaks volumes
You don’t need to give your partner a diamond necklace to make this gift one they will cherish forever.
$25: Homemade Gifts Make Wonderful Keepsakes
Your DIY gift can be as simple as a candle you made to be the centerpiece for your romantic meal, or if you’ve saved little pieces of things from your relationship (hello, Rachel Green!), make a scrapbook for you and your partner to share. You can print out photos of the two of you — yes, you can really do this! Your pictures don’t have to just linger on your phone in the digital void — at your local Walmart or CVS for just a couple of dollars, and you can find super cheap frames at your local Dollar Tree or favorite thrift store. As long as your gift comes from the heart, your significant other won’t care about the price tag.
$50: Something Cozy And Meaningful
If you’ve been in a relationship for a while, look into printing a photo book of some of your favorite memories together on sites like Shutterfly, or you can go with a calendar full of pictures of the two of you so your S/O can see your smiling face every time they check the date. Not into that? Try for a cozy pair of PJs they can wear on a comfy night in, or a give them a little something that will make their life easier, like a monogrammed water bottle or a lapdesk for those WFH days.
$100: Amp Up Your Gifting Game
Once your budget increases to $100, many nice gift options are at your disposal. Treat your partner to a comfy cashmere sweater (Uniqlo has tons of affordable options) or even a cozy pair of UGG slippers… If your S/O is into jewelry, there are plenty of inexpensive-but-lovely options on sites like Adina’s Jewels and Jennifer Zeuner. (Just please, please don’t give them a heart-shaped necklace. We’re serious.)
You have the cash to splurge on that bracelet or pair of earrings your partner has been eyeing for months — go for it. They deserve it, and if it’s in your budget, why not? At this price point, you can also go for an experiential date and take them to a store they love to pick something out together.
Plan a date they’ll remember
If you’re a hopeless romantic and you live for love, making a day-long plan for Valentine’s Day might be the way to go.
$25: Take A Trip Down Memory Lane
Plan a scavenger hunt that you can do together: Give your partner clues that lead to your favorite spots around town — the place you first met, the spot where you had your first date, or even where you first said “I love you.” The sky’s the limit with this one, and if you live in an area with a temperate climate, you could even pack a picnic to enjoy outdoors. If it’s too chilly for that, duck into your local coffee shop for a cappuccino or your other favorite most romantic coffee.
$50: Do Something Random
What’s something that you’ve always looked at in your town, but never actually done? Treat your S/O to something silly and romantic that you’d never do on a normal day, like a boat ride, a carriage ride downtown, or two tickets to a local museum. You never know what adventure awaits in your own backyard.
$100: A Spa Experience
Foot massages for two? Pedicures? Facials? Why not enjoy a mini spa day where you can just relax and enjoy each other’s company? Afterward you can head to a fancy hotel lounge, sip a cocktail and reminisce.
$150+: All Of The Above
If ever there’s a day to go all out, this is it. Plan an entire day for the two of you that hits all the high points — sentimentality, relaxation, and togetherness. Present them with that scrapbook at breakfast. Next it’s off to your couples massage followed by dinner at that restaurant you’ve both been dying to try.
No matter what you have to spend, as long as you put a little heart and soul into your plans, your partner is sure to love it, especially since they love you.
More on love on HerMoney:
- The secret to more satisfying sex is not what you think.
- The “man deficit” is a real thing, “Date-onomics” author Jon Birger shares ways to increase your odds of finding a match.
- Here’s how to build relationship equality if you feel like there’s an imbalance.
- In a serious relationship or thinking of getting married? Here are seven money moves to make to get your relationship and finances in order.
SUBSCRIBE: We’re changing our relationships with money, one woman at a time. Subscribe to HerMoney today.