Lavish romantic displays are common around Valentine’s Day. Everyone wants to show their sweetheart how much they care, and for many, gift giving is their love language of choice. Plus, everyone has that coworker whose significant other showers them with flowers at the office or sends an expensive gift.
But Valentine’s Day and other holidays can easily dent a budget. If you’re living on a lean income or trying to pay off debt, spending $100 on gifts and dinner can be unsustainable. But if you don’t want to have another run-of-the-mill date, what do you do?
Read below to see our tips for a budget-friendly Valentine’s Day celebration.
1. Hit Up An Arcade
One of the most fun and cheapest Valentine’s Day dates I’ve ever had was going to an arcade with my husband. We spent a couple hours playing air hockey, Pac Man and more. I doubt we spent more than $20 for a trip back to our childhood.
There's now a growing trend nationwide of having adult arcades with fun games, drinks, and snacks for adults to enjoy together.
2. See An Indie Flick
Instead of catching the latest blockbuster, go to the local art house cinema for an indie flick. Tickets cost around the same price as a regular theater, but you can find a larger variety of Oscar-type films.
3. Skip The Restaurant
Last-minute lovers usually can’t find a reservation on Valentine’s Day, so pop over to a local boutique grocery store for fine ingredients. Or shop from their deli counter if you don’t feel like cooking. It won’t be as romantic as the latest hip restaurant in town, but there won’t be a line.
Don't know how to put a meal together? Check out the latest item from Amazon Fresh – Tastemakers. This is similar to HelloFresh or Blue Apron, where you cook a meal and they send you the ingredients. What makes Amazon Fresh great though? You can order it today and get it by 7am tomorrow. That's great for last minute gift finders.
4. Go Ice Or Roller Skating
Recreate your high school days by taking your date to the ice or roller skating rink. Admission’s often less than $10, not bad for a nostalgic Valentine’s Day. Plus, this is one activity with guaranteed hand-holding (either because you want to or need to stay upright).
5. Rock Climb Indoors
Indoor rock climbing gyms are popular with athletes training for real mountains, but they’re also a unique date idea. Most gyms have beginner options if you’ve barely summited a hill before.
What better way to celebrate love than by singing to your sweetheart? No matter the day, you can find a bar or restaurant featuring karaoke. Choose a duet to sing together or belt out “your song” while your lover’s watching, hopefully with a drink.
7. Wine Tasting
Local wine shops often run tastings during the week, where you can sample different flavors for free or for a small fee. Bring your special friend and pick up a bottle to share after the tasting.
Live close to a winery? This can be a great adventure for Valentine's day as well!
8. Hike A Trail
Even the most forgetful partner can make a Valentine’s Day hike seem like a carefully-planned excursion. Pair trail mix with a bottle of champagne for an active and fun date.
Don't know the best trail nearby? Check out AllTrails to find the best trails that match your ability (and want) near you.
9. Visit An Art Museum
You probably haven’t visited your city’s art museum in years. Take the lack of Valentine’s Day plans as an opportunity to see what exhibits are happening. Not a fan of art? See what other museums and cultural centers are offering.
Haven't gone exploring? Here's a great way to find local museums near you.
10. Laugh It Up
They say laughter’s the best medicine, but it can also be the best aphrodisiac. Tickets to a comedy club might be the perfect mood-setter for your Valentine’s Day. See if there’s a well-known comedian in town, or if not, catch a local stand-up or improv troupe.
11. Go To The Theater
A Broadway-type performance often costs more than $100 for tickets, parking and concessions, so check out a local theater troupe for a cheaper thrill. Colleges with theater departments are another route for less expensive tickets for quality productions.
12. Take A Brewery Or Distillery Tour
If wine isn't your thing, find a fun brewery or distillery nearby. Most breweries offer tours regularly and many include free drinks as part of admission. Don't think you have a brewery within reach? You might be surprised with the huge craft beer movement how many breweries are now nationwide.
What are some of your favorite frugal Valentine's Day ideas?