Valentine’s Day is coming up fast and a lot of people use it as an extra opportunity to do something special for their significant other. Unfortunately, though, not everyone has the funds to splurge on luxury items or multiple-day getaways… So if you’re like me and are on a tight budget (or you’re simply looking for a cute last-minute gift), here are some tips to still make your Valentine’s Day memorable:
1. CREATE A MIX-TAPE
It may seem old skool, but trust me – this one is a winner. And so incredibly easy to do, too! All you need is an empty recordable disc and an epic (romantic) playlist. No really, that’s it! I created a mix-tape for my boyfriend as a Christmas present and what I did was make a playlist of songs that remind me of him or that we sing together a lot and burn it on an empty CD. I used iTunes for mine, because it seemed the most straightforward to me, but I’m sure there are plenty of other tools out there as well and I even think most laptops have a built-in CD burner program so you shouldn’t have too much trouble creating a mix-tape for your partner. As for what songs you should choose… That’s completely up to you! They don’t all have to be romantic or sappy; just create something that feels right to you and that you know your Valentine will like, too.
When you buy empty recordable discs, they usually come with some generic cover photo with the brand name and a few specifications on it, and obviously that’s not the most romantic item to gift someone. What I did to spruce mine up and make it more gift-worthy was choose a recent picture of the two of us, resize it so it would fit the case and print it out. To make it all a little bit snazzier, I also added a piece of paper of the same size with all the songs on it – like you would get when you buy an actual CD. To top if off I got out a black and a red marker and wrote a little message on the disc itself, too.
If you don’t have the money to buy recordable discs (don’t worry – I’ve been there!) or you don’t happen to have some lying around, don’t fret! Nowadays, it’s super easy to create and share playlists via apps such as Spotify. It might seem like less of a romantic gesture, but it doesn’t have to be. After all, you’ve still put in the effort and composed something just for them. It may seem like a cliché to say ‘it’s the thought that counts’, but really… It’s the thought that counts.
2. GIFT A FRAMED PICTURE
This one is even easier than creating a mix-tape. All you need is a picture and a frame (well… duh!). Choose any (recent) picture of you and your significant other that you adore, print it out if it’s not printed already (make sure it’s the right size and will fit your frame – some cropping or resizing might be required) and voilà – you have an amazing photo that you can put in your selected frame! I would recommend using a fairly simple frame and then adding some of your own touches to it. This just makes the gift a lot more unique and personal. You could simply write a few words on the frame or an entire poem if you’re so inclined (and it fits), put some lovey dovey stickers on there, paint your own drawing… Really just go all out and let the creative juices flow. Pour all of your love into that frame and your Valentine will definitely appreciate this gift!
The frame I used is one from IKEA, but unfortunately they don’t seem to sell them anymore. I did find them on Amazon, though. You don’t need an exact replica of what I used, of course, but I found them very easy to personalise! The one I found here is also an option. If getting crafty is not really your thing, you could always go for something that’s already quite fancy-looking on its own, like this one here.
3. GET CREATIVE WITH COUPONS
Coupons. Everybody knows the concept: you hand them in and you get something in return. Why not use that as a gift idea this Valentine’s Day? You can very easily create your own personal coupons using your computer! Just write down some flirty, romantic or simply fun ideas that you know your partner would enjoy and turn those into cute coupons you can gift them. Is there a movie you know your Valentine would love to watch with you but you’re not too keen on? Make a coupon that says “good for one movie of your choice”! Does your significant other have a favourite dish that you don’t particularly enjoy? Make a coupon that says “good for one meal of your choice”! You can really just write whatever you want on these coupons, just make sure that they are things your Valentine will enjoy. Remember: you’re making these for them and not for yourself!
The key to these is that you have to do what the coupon says, no exceptions. If your partner hands you the one that allows them to choose the movie for that night, you’re just going to have to accept it and watch that flick with them. Don’t complain about it, either. That’s just going to ruin the fun for everyone and really, why would you want to do that?
4. WRITE A LOVE LETTER
This one is so obvious that I almost didn’t include it on the list. But then I thought: who writes love letters anymore? Exactly. In this technology-filled day and age, writing letters has become somewhat of a lost art – and that’s really a shame! No one thinks of getting out pen and paper and just writing down what they feel, even though it is such a great gesture to show someone that you care. Simply the fact that you’ve taken the time to actually write a real and true letter instead of just quickly typing up a text or – if you’re lucky – an e-mail will already mean so much to your Valentine. And you know what? The only thing this will cost you is just a little bit of your time – that’s it. No additional fees required. Unless, of course, you’re so far into the 21st century you don’t have any paper lying around anywhere (but really, how!?)…
The key to this is to just write what you feel. You honestly don’t have to be a poet to pour your heart out onto the paper. If you love writing poems and getting out a rhyme or two, sure, go for it! But it’s definitely not a requirement. Just think of your partner and what you love about them so much, and then write that down. It can be a one-pager or an entire novel, but just let everything out. What’s so great about writing a letter is that you really get the time to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it, which is something I know a lot of people struggle with when it comes to talking to someone face-to-face. This is your chance to lay your heart out on the table and completely bare your soul – grab it with both hands!
5. FILL A JAR WITH COMPLIMENTS
For this one you will need a glass jar, a pen and some paper. The idea is that you cut the paper in smaller pieces and write compliments on them. Stuff like “you are beautiful”, “you make me smile”, “you are so smart”… You get the idea. You can also add phrases like “I love you” or “we are meant to be” – it’s up to your own creativity, really (as with all of the gifts on this list). And then you fill the jar up with the pieces of paper (folded in two, for an extra element of surprise). What will hopefully happen is that your Valentine reads these little notes and becomes instantly happy! Now, you can give your partner this gift and have them open it and read all of the notes right then and there, but let me tell you: one glass jar can fit a whole lot of notes and ain’t nobody got time for that! Plus, it kinda defeats the purpose if you ask me. What I would do is to just put the jar on your partner’s bedside table (or anywhere else in the bedroom that’s near the bed) and have them read one each morning. That way they can start each day off on the right foot! Another great idea is to leave it entirely to your partner’s discretion when and where they open the jar and read the notes; they could, for example, take out the jar on a bad day and read one or two of the notes to make them feel better.
As you can see in the picture, I used coloured paper, but it can really be any type of paper you want – you can go for plain white paper, or you can opt for more colours than just three, it’s all up to your personal preferences (and maybe your partner’s, too)! Since they’ve become so popular over the last years, you’ll be sure to find at least one glass jar in a homeware store near you, for a very low price (a quick Google search will turn up a lot of cheap results, too).
6. PREPARE A NICE DINNER (TOGETHER)
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about Valentine’s Day is having dinner at a fancy multiple-star restaurant. But let’s be real here, doing that is going to cost you. A lot. And there’s nothing stopping you from recreating that romantic restaurant vibe at home (without having to break the bank)!
You really get a lot of different options with this activity: prepare your Valentine’s favourite meal by the time they get to your place or by the time they get home, or make dinner together; try out that new dish that’s been on your mind for quite some time now, or introduce your partner to your family’s secret recipe. The possibilities are endless! To make the evening all the more special, get dressed up and pretend like you’re actually going out to a restaurant instead of just staying at home. Dim the lights and put some candles on the table. Add a few extra decorations if you have them. Really give your home that restaurant vibe and the night will already be off to a wonderful start!
What’s so great about cooking your own meal is that you get to completely decide how much money you’re going to spend! Buying ingredients and preparing a home-cooked meal is usually a lot cheaper than going to a restaurant and ordering a three-course dinner. And you’ll have more privacy, too (wink-wink).
7. HAVE A (SEXY) GAME NIGHT*
Spending the night playing board games might sound boring to some, but it really is a great way to have a cosy night in with your Valentine. And most people have at least a board game or two lying around the house! To spruce it up, you can maybe play a ‘strip’ version of the game of your choice. Like strip poker, I can imagine people have invented rules for games such as strip Monopoly, strip Uno, strip Scrabble and so on. A quick Google search will turn up plenty of results (yes, I checked).
If playing board games really isn’t your thing, but you are into computer games, that can be fun to do together as well. I’d suggest a (free) co-op game like Guild Wars, which me and my boyfriend enjoy playing together, but you can of course go for any game that tickles your fancy. The most important thing is that you and your Valentine have a fun time together!
*If you or your partner are a sore loser, I’d maybe steer clear of this one. You don’t want your night to end in a huge fight!
8. ORGANISE A ROMANTIC PAMPER SESH
Whip out the candles and put on some relaxing music, Valentine’s Day is all about spending time with your other half and what better way to do that than by treating yourselves to a relaxing night in?
It goes without saying that an evening spent pampering each other includes massages. You can give each other back rubs, feet rubs, head massages… Any type of massage you want! You can use massage oil for this, but that’s completely optional (trust me – it gets quite messy and a shower is definitely required afterwards). Another great idea for a spa night at home is giving each other (home-made) face masks. I know a lot of men might be put off by the thought, but it is very relaxing and it makes your skin feel so much better! If your partner stills needs some persuasion, just tell them how funny it will be to see you with your face covered in a smooth paste.
9. GO STAR-GAZING
This one is definitely on my bucket list! Can you imagine a more romantic way to spend your evening than under the stars with your significant other? Didn’t think so. Take some blankets with you and put on warm clothes, because this is going to be a cold one.
You’re going to want to find a nice romantic spot that gives you a clear view of the sky (and preferably without too much light polution as well) – the beach is a great place for this, if you don’t mind getting sand everywhere. Bring some champagne (or a cheaper alternative like prosecco or cava), a couple of glasses and maybe a few snacks and you’re set for the evening! One of the best things about this activity – beside the stunning views – is the deep conversations it is sure to spark between you and your Valentine. You can bet you’re going to get to know each other on a much deeper level!
10. PLAN A DAY TRIP
Pretend you’re a tourist in your own city and go do all those typical touristy activities: visit a few museums (a lot of them are free), go see the sights and have lunch at the most highly recommended café! This can be such a fun activity to do together, and you might even discover some unexpected gems that have been hidden right under your nose. Simply pretend you’ve never been there and you’re discovering everything for the first time, together. Also fun to do if you’re going a few cities over or are actually going somewhere you’ve never been before. Taking the day off and spending it with your Valentine, can you imagine a better way to spend your time?
I hope this post inspired you to do something special with your beau on Valentine’s Day, without having to spend all your money! I also made a video about all of these ideas over on my YouTube channel, so check that out if you want to see more angles of the gifts and maybe get some extra advice. If my post inspired you for Valentine’s Day, please let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear all about it!