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young couple on tight budget running valentine's day balloon

How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day On a Tight Budget During the Pandemic

Celebrating Valentine’s Day during a pandemic certainly presents it’s challenges. So whether you’re 0n a tight budget this February or have decided to try outdoor dining in the middle of winter, Valentine’s Day is about love, not money. With a little time and creativity, you can create a Valentine’s Day experience that shows your love without breaking the bank or putting your health at risk.

This year, a tight budget just might be a blessing in disguise. We’ve got some creative and thoughtful gifts and experiences that are all about romance. Instead of buying something mass-produced, putting some time and effort into something personal means more to the one you love. After all, something free or cheap can still be special.

To make a low-budget Valentine’s Day fun, memorable, and romantic, spend time, not money. Moreover, you won’t even need to get a babysitter. Need specific ideas? Here are a few great ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day on the cheap.

Make a card or handwrite a letter

woman writing valentines day card near laptop and smart phone

Texts, emails, and virtual cards can be meaningful, but they don’t have the same personal touch of a handwritten message or homemade card. DIY Valentine’s Day cards and letters take time and thoughtfulness to create, which shows you really care. It doesn’t matter that they’re cheap because your special someone won’t guess you’re on a tight budget. They’re worth giving, regardless of your income.

If you don’t know what to write, start by brainstorming things you love about the person you’re writing to. What are their best qualities? What made you fall in love with them? What do you miss about them when you’re apart?

You can also think of favorite memories, either from the previous year or through your entire relationship. You can describe a few of these memories in your card or letter, perhaps even including pictures you’ve drawn or printed out.

Still struggling? Why not look up Valentines-themed or love quotes and poems that express how you feel? Then, all you need to do is handwrite those poems or quotes. If you decide to choose more than one love  or Valentine’s quotes, writing each on an individual slip of paper.

Put the notes where your loved one will definitely find them. For example, one could be taped to their toothbrush or steering wheel. These notes cost nothing, but they’ll say more about your love than something store-bought.

Plan a romantic meal together

couple celebrating valentines day with indoor picnic

You don’t need money to have romance. There are countless activities that are romantic and free or inexpensive (making them ideal for a tight budget situation). For instance, you can put together an indoor picnic by spreading blankets on the floor. Add pillows, candlelight, soft music, and simple foods you both love, and you have a setting that’s made for romance.

If you have kids who go to bed early, the same idea could work in the evening with drinks and dessert. This evening “picnic” also works well with other romantic activities, like watching a film together. You don’t even need to buy or rent a film. Just check out the movies at your local library ahead of time. Then, you’ll have a nice selection to choose from for free!

If watching a romantic comedy film isn’t special enough, try playing a board game or old-fashioned video game together. Depending on your budget, you can either play something at home or go to an arcade or coffee shop with games. Both places are cheap yet fun, and they work great with kids, too.

Another idea is to make art together. It doesn’t matter if you’re terrible at drawing or painting. The main goal is to enjoy yourself. If you or your partner struggles with art, try drawing pictures with your eyes closed. You can also set a timer and take turns calling out subjects, drawing each one within a couple minutes. Making quick “blind drawings” can help you both relax and enjoy the experience together.

Related: Fun Things To Do In Chicago During Winter

Prepare Valentines-themed food

You don’t have to cook an impressive (and expensive) five-course meal. Even a ten-minute pasta dinner can be turned into a Valentine’s Day feast. Just make it special by adding a few extras. For example, you can cut veggies into heart shapes or sprinkle grated cheese on top in the shape of a heart.

Other Valentine’s Day foods, like heart-shaped pancakes or cookies, work great with kids, too. You don’t even need to buy special ingredients. Anything red can be turned into Valentine’s Day treats, from roasted apples to strawberry jam on toast.

Related: How Pantry Organization Makes the Holidays Better

Focus on the one(s) you love

No matter what you end up doing, it’s important to keep your attention on the one(s) you love and focus less on a tight budget. Try to create a fun and relaxing Valentine’s Day for them, not just for you. For instance, if they hate cooking or other chores, volunteer to do those chores for them. Compliment your special someone, give them a message, and postpone disagreements for another day.

Sometimes, these small gestures are enough to make a Valentine’s Day special. Similarly, being distracted or self-centered can ruin even the best Valentine’s Day activities.

For a truly wonderful day, remember to stay tuned to your loved one(s) wishes and feelings.  One of the best gifts you can give is your undivided attention, and that’s free.

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