13 Cheap and Romantic Valentine’s Day Ideas

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Love on a shoe-string budget

Valentine’s Day, celebrated annually on February 14, is traditionally known for inspiring extravagant displays of love and affection.

Naturally, in the spirit of the holiday, you want to wine and dine your true love. You want to shower her (or him) with affection. You want to surprise him (or her) with gifts that show that you — and you alone — truly know, love, respect, and adore your partner.

We both know that you love your partner.

We both also know you’re reading an article with the words “cheap” and “romantic” in the title.

But I’m not here to judge you. I get it. I’m here to help.

I want to give you a list of cheap and romantic Valentine’s Day ideas for you to woo your beloved without breaking the bank.

Are you passionately in love with your significant other?

Are you also passionate about pinching pennies?

If so, you’re going to love this Valentine’s Day treat.

What’s Cash Go To Do With It?

Do you ever wonder how every holiday seems to turn into an excuse to spend wild amounts of money? Do you ever feel the need to spend more to prove that you care about your loved ones?

That probably isn’t by accident.

Holiday spending is big business for retailers. The National Retail Federation reports that spending is on track to reach record highs for Valentine’s Day in 2020.

The average Valentine’s Day gift-giver plans to spend $196.31, which is 21% higher than the 2019 record of $161.96.

People between the ages 18 and 24 plan to spend $109.31 on average, while those in the 35-44 range plan to spend $307.51.

According to Bankrate, if you go all out with chocolates, flowers, a nice dinner, drinks, and also, you know, a “real” present, you’re looking to spend about $617.

A couple of Valentine’s Day gifts add up quick

Maybe spending $617 on gifts and a night out is your idea of true romance. If that’s you and you can afford it, good for you! Seriously, I hope to be able to splurge on my girlfriend without thinking about the money someday.

But maybe you’re a bit strapped for cash. Maybe you don’t have a budget and you realize you’ve already spent too much this month.

Or maybe you’ve built gifts and dates into your couple’s budget, but spending a ton of money on Valentine’s Day doesn’t make sense for you right now.

I totally get it. I’m not against celebrating Valentine’s Day and extravagant romantic gestures. But I am for reasonable spending.

Let me provide a list of ideas that are every bit as romantic as a night out for dinner and drinks. Some of these ideas may even provide better opportunities to be close to your partner.

And, fortunately for you, they just happen to be way more affordable.

Related: The Best Budgeting Apps for Couples

Cheap and Romantic Valentine’s Day Ideas

There’s no rule saying that romance has to be expensive.

Maybe you’re living paycheck to paycheck. Maybe you’re trying to save up for a trip. Or maybe you just have a strict budget that you want to keep.

No matter your reasons, making more affordable Valentine’s Day plans doesn’t have to put a damper on the day. In fact, you might find some of these cheap date ideas end up creating more romance than the traditional dinner and expensive gift.

You and your beloved can get creative and plan a night together that not only keeps dollars in your pocket but also brings you closer as a couple.

Here are a few ideas for your date:

  • Do arts and crafts
  • Make a romantic dinner at home
  • Have a movie night
  • Go to the skating rink
  • Give each other massages
  • Go camping
  • Fly kites
  • Play miniature golf
  • Exchange hobbies
  • Practice delayed gratification (it might not be what you think)
  • Visit a planetarium, aquarium, museum, or garden
  • Go to the library
  • Open up, and just be present

Do Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts may sound like something kindergartners are forced to do when teachers get tired of teaching kids to count. But you can have a lot of fun as a couple by creating something that you can later look at, appreciate, and probably laugh at.

You can create a photo album of you and your partner.

Or create a scrapbook celebrating your time together as a couple.

Or just get some acrylic paints or watercolors and have a good time making designs for fun.

Use it as an opportunity to explore new interests like painting, drawing, or making paper mache while spending quality time together.

Make a Romantic Dinner at Home

You saw this one coming.

But just planning a new meal together can be fun. Light a few candles and lower the lights, and you’ll have the right mood set in no time.

Even adding a nice bottle of wine (or two), you and your beloved can share the experience of making a unique and affordable meal together in the comfort of your home.

The best part? You can sip as much wine as you want with no need to worry about how to get home.

Have a Movie Night

Get some popcorn, candy, and drinks and you’ve got everything you need for a movie night at home.

Pick a movie you’ve both been wanting to see for a while. Or have a mini-marathon where you each get to pick a movie.

And you each must graciously agree to humor the other no matter how “meh” you feel about the movie they selected. Watching a movie you’re just not that into without complaint because your partner enjoys it is true love in action.

Go to the Skating Rink

When was the last time you went skating? If you’re like most people, it’s probably been a while. You might be due for a visit.

Skating in the dark as a disco ball spins over your head while listening to songs from middle school is sure to put a smile on your face.

It gives you and your partner to hold hands and just have some fun.

Plus, skating increases your balance. And it’s good exercise. You might find a new hobby! Just remember to stretch.

Give Each Other Massages

Nothing screams “romance” like a massage from your lover on Valentine’s Day.

Massage oil is affordable. And a little bit goes a long way. Just remember to warm it up a bit first. Ask me how I know.

Massage offers you and your partner an opportunity to relax and just enjoy each other’s company with no distractions.

Even if you aren’t a trained masseuse, your partner will enjoy receiving a loving massage. Check in with your partner often to make sure you’re being appropriately gentle. Or rough.

There are a lot of benefits that come from receiving — and giving — a massage like reduced stress and improved feelings of connection and belonging.

And if your couple’s massage session happens to turns into something more…

You’re welcome.

Go Camping

Assuming you already have the gear, going camping can make a very affordable date night. No matter where you live, there are sure to be campgrounds within a short drive.

Camping offers a lot of opportunities for romance. You can build a fire and relax in its warmth as you share memories and talk about your hopes for the future.

You can plan a meal together and cook it over the fire you built. And also S’mores.

And when it’s bedtime, you can snuggle together in a tent. Or, if you’re brave and the weather is good, you can sleep under the night sky.

Every time you smell campfire you’ll be reminded of the one Valentine’s Day you spent camping with your beloved.

Fly Kites

Everyone enjoyed flying kites as a child. I loved it. You loved it. Your partner loved it.

Flying kites just makes you feel good.

Kite prices can vary wildly, but if you stick to the ones that come with Disney princesses or Marvel characters on them, you’re doing it right.

Find a park and make a day of it. For a bonus, plan a picnic so no matter what the wind does, you’ll still have a good time.

Play Miniature Golf

No list of affordable date ideas would be complete without mentioning putt-putt.

There’s nothing that arouses passion like some friendly competition.

Miniature golf may be just the thing to bring out a bit of playful banter.

You can up the ante by setting rules like the winner gets to pick where to go for dessert. Or the “loser” has to give a massage. Everyone’s a winner!

(You’re welcome.)

Exchange Hobbies

Take turns participating in each other’s hobby.

Chances are you already have everything you need to do this one.

If one of you likes to play video games and the other likes photography, then plan your Valentine’s Day date around playing video games together and then taking pictures.

You may discover a new activity that you really enjoy. Or you might uncover some latent ability you didn’t know you had.

Perhaps you have a natural eye for photography and your shots come out looking like they were taken by Ansel Adams or Annie Liebovitz.

Or maybe you’re just naturally good at getting headshots in Call of Duty.

Either way, you’ll have the chance to share time with your partner when they’re doing the thing they love the most — besides you.

Delayed Gratification

Instead of spending money on each other for Valentine’s Day, consider putting that money into an account to fund some future plans that you’re both excited about.

Maybe there’s a trip you’d like to take as a couple. Or there’s a band you both want to see in concert. Or maybe where you live it’s just too cold to leave the house in February and a summer outing is more reasonable.

Whatever your reasons, making plans for the future gives you the fun of planning now and the fun of doing later.

Visit a Planetarium, Aquarium, Museum, or Botanical Gardens

Most cities have lots of activities for lovers of all things nature and science. Even when they have special events, prices are usually pretty affordable.

Trips like these give you the chance to find new things you like and to learn together.

Maybe you want to learn about culture and art in a museum, or just enjoy watching fish and other animals play around at the aquarium.

Botanical gardens can help you slow down and appreciate diverse plant life in a relaxing and safe environment.

And the planetarium offers the chance to realize the immense magnitude of the universe and appreciate how great it is to share space and time with your lover.

If you want a super affordable option, just go stargazing together. All you need to do is pick a location.

Looking at the night sky is free. Cameras or telescopes… not so much.

Go to the Library

I admit I’m a bit of a book nerd.

But the library offers a chance to explore and discuss interests with your partner. You can learn a lot about each other by exploring new topics together.

Share your favorite childhood books.

Check out a cookbook that gets your mouths watering.

Get a book that teaches you how to draw. Or how to knit. Or how to do your taxes. Whatever turns you on.

Open Up and Be Present

Spend time just talking with your partner — and listening.

Share some music that reminds you of good times. Or some bad times. And talk about it. Music has a way of reminding us of feelings we’ve long since forgotten. This may be a great opportunity to open up with your partner.

Talk about books that have changed your outlook on life.

Talk about the goals you had when you were young and the goals you have now.

Talk about your hopes for the future.

Listen as your partner talks. Practice being present with them, which is really the best gift you can give.

Open communication and closeness costs nothing and offers many benefits to you, your partner, and your relationship.


Treating your special someone to some Valentine’s Day treats doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.

Don’t be afraid to try out some cheap and romantic Valentine’s Day ideas with your significant other. With some creativity, you’re sure to find plenty of affordable activities that you and your partner will love doing together.

At the end of the day, all we really want is to spend quality time with the people we love. And we want them to spend time with us.

Maybe your idea of true romance is making a meal at home and having a candlelit dinner. Maybe you and your special someone enjoy stargazing, or cozying up to watch a movie, or laughing while you try to keep your balance at the skating rink.

No matter what you do — a fancy dinner date or a more affordable activity — just remember to appreciate the time you have with your partner.

Look them in the eye. Hold them close. And let them know how much they mean to you.

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