Valentine’s Day: how to spend it on a budget

Written by Rachael Kelly

Illustrated by Emily Nash

Whether you’re celebrating Valentines, Galentines or Palentines, the 14th of February is fast approaching. There’s dinners to be booked, cards to be written and gifts to be bought, all paired with a hefty price tag. If you’re one of the 39 million UK social media users, then prepare yourself for an onslaught of relationship status updates, targeted sex-toy ads and celebrity insta-perfect pics. Each year there’s an increasing pressure to celebrate in more lavish, public and pricey ways.

As much as we’d all like to fill a mansion with roses and splash out on tens of thousands of pounds worth of jewellery (I’m looking at you, Kanye), for most 20-somethings this isn’t financially viable. Such high expectations can leave even the most hopeless romantic feeling hopeless. But never fear – I’ve done the thrifty thinking for you and have put together some ideas on how to share the love whilst saving your pennies:

1. Plan a day trip

The classic wine and dine pairing can be pretty pricey, especially with restaurants bumping up their prices for the big day. Why not plan a day-date instead? Pretend to be tourists and visit the local galleries and museums.

Tate Modern, source: Tate

If Ms Storm Ciara allows us to have a not-so-miserable day, why not dig out a map (or more realistically, boot up Google maps) and plan a hike? Packing a picnic and a flask of hot chocolate can make even the most mundane walk romantic. If you’re night owls, watch the sunset together or go stargazing; don’t forget the blanket!

2. Get crafty

It’s pretty evident to see that Valentines has become one of the most commercialised international holidays there is. We used to declare our feelings for one another through poetry and grand romantic gestures. Nowadays, we tend to go for grand materialistic gestures, monetising our love. People would rather a Rolex than a Romeo. Personally, I find more meaning in small thoughtful or homemade gifts. Below are some crafty gift ideas to inspire you:

  • Lolly-pop dates: Save up old lolly-pop sticks and write date ideas on them. By colour co-ordinating the ends, you can have date ideas for staying in, for going out, for rainy days or even for the bedroom. It’s a thoughtful gift and will alleviate the pressure of deciding what to do on date night.
  • Love tokens: Why not create your own love currency? Print off some ‘tokens’ for massages, little spoon privileges, TV remote ownership or exemption from dish washing duty. Take note of what chores your partner hates the most and make a token for it.
  • Memory Lane: Scrapbooks and photo albums are easy and personal ways to celebrate your time together. If you’ve collected some keepsakes over the years, why not repurpose a shoebox and create a time capsule? Make sure to leave some room to add photos and memories from your next adventures.

3. Food glorious food

If you’re anything like me and my partner, all celebrations must involve some element of food. New job? Let’s get a takeaway. Promotion? I’ll book a table. This yummy celebratory ritual means quality time, no washing up and delicious food. However, this year we’re saving for a house, which has meant tightening those purse strings and reigning in the eating out! Not wanting this to put a dampener on our Valentines, I’ve kept my eyes peeled for the best Valentines meal deals and tasty alternatives.

M&S, source:
  • DIY – nothing says love like preparing dinner from scratch. Turn this dinnertime chore into a romantic evening-in by cooking something together. Make the evening special by cooking together or trying out a new recipe. Homemade pizzas are always a good shout – knead I say more?

4. Get kinky

If your Valentines plans are a little less PG, there are plenty of adult retailers offering some great discounts in the run up to the 14th. Nothing says sexy like surprising your loved one by introducing something new to the bedroom. Treat yourself to some saucy lingerie or invest in a new sex toy. The effort won’t go unnoticed.

  • Love Honey are offering up to 50% off of their ‘Ultimate Valentine’s Gifts’ collection. Whatever your kink, their wide range of toys and games caters to all tastes.
  • Ann Summer’s are offering a saucy array of underwear and gift sets at bargain prices (up to 50% off).  If you’re new to toys, why not try the ‘Couples Toy Starter Kit’? Or plan a more sensual evening with the ‘Oil Massage Set’.
  • If you’re looking for a little lace and satin, most high street lingerie shops are offering Valentines sales, discounts and free delivery. Get window shopping and take advantage of it!
  • If your budget is really tight but you still want to spice up your Valentines, try creating your own massage oil. Mix a base oil (try coconut or grapeseed) and your essential oil of choice, and voilà!  

Whatever your plans, don’t let financial constraints put a stopper on the celebrations. Get creative, get personal and spread the love!

The Author

Rachael is a Classics Graduate from Bristol University who is now working as a Junior Project Manager at Immediate Media. In her spare time she writes freelance, largely on lifestyle, wellbeing and children’s literature.

Edited by Stephanie Kleanthous

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