Valentine’s Day on a Budget

Tips for Celebrating Valentine’s Day Through a Lens of Healthy Abundance, Not Lack.

Do you just do Valentine’s Day, or do you really DO Valentine’s Day? What I mean by that is do you simply go through the motions of buying the obligatory cards, candy and flowers and maybe a nice dinner out? Or do you really put thought into it and use it as a chance to let the most special people in your life know how much you truly love and appreciate them? Obviously, I’m leaning toward the second way, and I’m going to show you how Valentine’s Day on a budget and with meaning is possible. It may also turn out to be one of the healthiest days that you celebrate all year!

Photo of hand drawing a heart on a card as an example of Valentine's Day on a budget

Valentine’s Day on a Budget

Before we go any further, it’s important to remember that when the term ‘on a budget’ is used on this site, it’s meant as a way of looking at life through a lens of abundance, not lack. It’s about being thoughtful with your valuable resources – your time, your money, your emotions and your energy – and making sure that they’re supporting you in the best, healthiest way possible. That’s where thinking about Valentine’s Day on a budget can serve us well. It’s a chance to really take stock of our riches when it comes to the people we love and who love us back and to be truly intentional about recognizing and appreciating that love.

While there’s no doubt that Valentine’s Day can be very commercial, Bean Robinson, PhD believes that special occasions like this can still be extremely meaningful for our closest relationships. She should know, she’s a licensed marriage and family therapist and Clinical Director for the Program in Human Sexuality in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Bean says that these occasions “kind of force us to think about that person and give us an opportunity or a reminder to do something special to demonstrate how we feel about them and how much we value them, love them, like them and care for them.”

Doing this is certainly good for our relationships, but it’s also good for our health. It puts our focus on what is good and positive and loving in our life and triggers the release of the so-called happiness hormones such as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. These hormones can carry us a long way in balancing out the ‘business’ of everyday life.

Photo of heart shaped candy molds as an example of Valentine's Day on a budget

Expressions of Love That Don’t Cost a Lot of Money

The great thing is that demonstrating our love doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Valentine’s Day on a budget is about spending energy and effort, not depleting our bank account. Here are some low-cost ideas for celebrating Valentine’s Day in a way that’s meaningful and healthy for everyone involved.

Cook a nice dinner at home together

I know that the idea of taking the night off from cooking dinner and going to a fancy restaurant might be appealing, and if that’s something that is easily within your budget and there’s a place that’s meaningful for you and your love, go for it. Otherwise, having dinner at home can be just as meaningful and just as special. The key here is cooking together. Plan the meal together, buy your groceries together and cook together.

Tell the kids it’s an early bedtime night, or if they’re older, that they just need to spend some time in their room or in some other part of the house. Set the table with a nice tablecloth, cloth napkins and lit candles and you’re set. Most importantly, the TV is off, and no phones are allowed anywhere near the kitchen or where you’re eating. Talk to each other and take the chance to remember why this is the most important person in your life.

Make a card instead of buying one

I don’t know about you, but I usually feel like buying cards is a waste of a lot of money because I can never find one that’s exactly right. If I can’t find one that says what I want it to, I’d much rather use my own words and get it like I want it. If I don’t know what I want it to say, then that means I’ve got even more homework to do. Valentines are an expression of our love, and we should be able to put that into words at least one day a year. A couple of years ago, I bought pre-cut large hearts and gave some to everyone in the family. The entire pack cost no more than $4. The instructions were to write words on them that describe all of the things that we love and appreciate about each other. Those cards are some of the most meaningful I’ve ever received.

Make your own candy

I make fudge for Valentine’s in a heart-shaped mold that I bought years ago. There’s nothing healthy about the fudge, but the happy hormones released because of the effort I put into it for those I love do wonders for me mentally and physically. I’ve also bought strawberries, dipped them halfway in chocolate and ended up with a treat that looks and tastes as good as anything that you’ll buy at a store.

Buy flowers at the farmer’s market or plant seeds

If you’re lucky enough to live where you can find flowers at the farmer’s market in February, this is a great option for buying an arrangement that looks beautiful and doesn’t cost a lot of money. Some farmers with environmentally-friendly greenhouses are able to provide flowers in even the colder climates, so don’t count this out until you check. Another option is to buy a pack of flower seeds and start them in small cups so that they’re ready to be given on Valentine’s. They’ll provide enjoyment as your Valentine gets to watch them grow indoors and then they can be planted outside so that they’ll continue to give joy for a long time to come.

Plan a no-cost or low-cost outing

Putting the effort into planning a special outing or an entire day with your Valentine will pay off big in terms of how much pleasure you both will get from it. Making sure that it costs little to nothing can be a fun part of your challenge and will force you to be as creative as possible.

Lean on Your Community

There’s no doubt that you can spend a lot of money on Valentine’s Day if you want to, but that’s not what it’s about. Valentine’s Day on a budget is about putting thought and effort into showing those you love how much they mean to you. The health benefits that you and your Valentine will reap from this will last for a long time to come. Hopefully some of the ideas here will give you some inspiration. If you have other ideas, feel free to share them in the comments below.

If you also want to learn more about nurturing your romantic relationship on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year, be sure and check out Craving Connection: The Importance of Intimate Relationships.

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