Okay, raise your hand if you’ve ever felt taken advantage of by a greeting card company? Or by a big box store when purchasing Valentine’s Day present. Golly, add the cost of a card and a dozen roses together and you might as well go out for a steak dinner – it’d be cheaper.
Shhh. Here’s a tip. You can wow your loved one without breaking the bank. And the coolest thing is, she or he will never know how little you spent. Here’s our list of great gift ideas.
1. Book a trip online
Sites like Expedia and Travelocity offer bargain-basement discounts by booking in advance. If you make it a day trip you can keep your hotel stay under $50, yes, even for a five-star hotel. Utilize sites like Pinterest to narrow down cheap or even free locations to visit. Pack a picnic lunch and make a whole day of it.
2. Spa Day
Every town has a local spa, and almost all of them offer sweet deals this time of year. Buy your loved one a massage or a facial, or maybe even a manicure or pedicure. Make your loved one feel good on the inside and out for as little as $50.
3. All that glitters
When you think jewelry, one name says it all. Tiffany & Co. Too expensive, right? Not true! Even the retailer known for its famous teal boxes offers discounts. You can search their site www.tiffany.com
for gifts under $50. Not into Tiffany? That’s okay. Almost all your favorite online retailers allow searches on price points. Look for something under $20. You might be surprised by what you’ll find.
Of course, if you’re going with the conventional Valentine’s Day gift, no need to trot down to the local flower shop. Let your fingers do the Google-ing. For $30 you could buy “Classic Budding Roses” from www.1800flowers.com
. If you want to spend even less, check out their “Infinite Rose Blooms. It’s under $20. If buying online isn’t your thing, don’t forget to look in on the florist in your local grocery store. They almost always offer special discounts on roses and spring flowers for Valentine’s Day. A dozen roses can almost always be found for under $20.
5. Make it a dinner date
Did you know restaurants like Red Lobster and Outback offer coupons? It’s definitely worth seeking out your favorite restaurant and seeing what’s up for grabs. When we looked we found a Red Lobster coupon that gave diners $10 off dinner. Outback offered $4 off two entrees.
Forget the flowers, give your significant other something they can keep forever. Vases like the ones we found on Amazon.com were not only stunning but economical. Brands like Waterford could be found for under $100. Buying for a man? How about a crystal decanter? Or how about something that’s tasteful, and thoughtful. We found a Dublin Crystal Bedside Night Carafe with a Tumbler glass on Amazon.com that was only $15.09 – beautiful and functional.
7. Pamper your Prince (or Princess)
8. A glass full of sweethearts
Places like World Market, Macy’s and even the dollar store offer great deals on a martini, margarita, and decorative glasses. This time of year you’ll find stemware painted with hearts. Fill them up with Sweatheart candy. Tie a red bow around the stem. Heck, tie a plush toy to the stem. Simple, easy and cute for less than $10.
Not to be confused with candy, chocolate is a must. You can purchase some of the best from www.sees.com. Milk chocolate, dark, white… We even spotted a sampler box for under $10. If you’re hankering for some instant gratification, many department stores carry brands like Godiva, Ghirardelli, and Hershey. Buy a box and a card for less than $15.
10. Speaking of greeting cards…
Don’t forget to buy (or make) a card–it’s more important than you’d think! A wide selection can be found at the dollar store or Walmart. Slide a pre-paid gift card inside and let her pick her own present.
11. Romantic night at home
A cheap bottle of wine ($10), a bottle of Pure Seduction Shower and Bath Oil from Victoria Secrets ($14), a few candles ($10) and – viola – an evening to remember. Don’t forget the rose petals!
12. Novelty items
Why buy roses that will fade away in a few days? Why not a plush toy? Your local toy store always carries a wide selection of stuffed animals. Buy a single-stemmed red rose and place it in a Teddy Bear’s arms. Simple and sweet and less than $20.
13. Let yourself be framed.
Raid your iPhone’s picture gallery for a shot of yourself and your loved one. You can always find a nice selection of frames at Michael’s or JoAnn’s for under $10. Hit up the craft aisle for lots of neat decorations. This is a great project for the kids.
14. Balloons for the win!
If your Valentine is a kid at heart, buy a dozen balloons instead of flowers. You can purchase 12 balloons for $12 at the dollar store. Throw in a card and a plush toy and you’ll walk out of the store for under $15.
15. Bake your way into their heart
You can find candy containers, tin boxes and even themed cupcake cups at Michaels or any baking store. Make some brownies and put them in a heart-shaped box. Whip up some cake mix and decorate them with frosting and Sweethearts. Or fill that box with chocolate candy. The possibilities are endless.
16. Fill a box with treasures…
Still not feeling the love? Make your own pirate’s treasure. Fill up a decorative box like the ones we found at World Market. These Valentine’s Day vintage postcard boxes are not only adorable, but they’re also reusable. For $10 you could purchase the boxes, fill them up with chocolate, and be the hero of her heart.
17. Movie date in a box
Want to spend a little more money? How about a Be My Valentine Movie Date box? Fill a popcorn box like the ones we found at Bed, Bath and Beyond with candy and some movie tickets. Wrap it with Valentine-themed cellophane from the gift wrap aisle. For less than $30 you’ll have a date night all wrapped up.
18. Not just any gift basket… a hobby basket!
By far the best deals on wicker baskets can be found at your local dollar store, but most craft stores carry them, too. Fill them up with goodies. We recommend seeds and garden supplies
– a gift that keeps on giving as your seeds sprout throughout the spring, and it’ll cost you less than $20.
19. I want candy!
It’s worth mentioning that the dollar store offers sweet deals on candy. Whether your loved one favors Airheads or Russell Stover’s chocolates in a box, you’ll find it there. We compared prices with a local supermarket and learned consumers could save up to 70 percent. With those types of savings, you could buy double the sweets.
20. Everything and more…
Of course, you could always go all out. Give your loved one the glassware filled with Sweethearts, and the basket of garden goodies, and then make your loved one a home-cooked meal. Refer to our blog on dollar store meals for some fabulous recipes that are easy, tasty and cheap. All of the above could be purchased for less than $50.
Bottom line, you don’t have to spend a fortune to impress your loved one. A dozen balloons are just as impressive as a dozen roses. Be creative. After all, it’s the thought that counts. Wow, your Valentine without going into debt.
Pamela is the author of thirty-eight romance novels with more coming out every year. She’s best known for her NASCAR romance novels, but writes non-fiction, too. Pamela’s a regular columnist for the American Quarter Horse “Journal” and writes for SuperMoney.com where she shares her personal finance tips on how to thrive in this economy.