A Frugal Valentine’s Day: Do Instead Of Buy

Me and my main (ok, only) man

Me and my main (ok, only) man

I do not hate Valentine’s Day. I’ll be honest with you right now, I’m rather a sucker for adorable little holidays like Halloween and V-Day. Ok, being totally honest, I like big holidays too. Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays… I’m smitten! What I do hate is the rampant commercialization of these holidays.

But for my part, I choose to tune out the endless prompts to buy more stuff. Instead, I focus on the love that springs forth when we don’t get caught up in what we’re buying and instead get caught up in the joy of what we’re doing.

My Favorite Valentine’s Day

Mr. Frugalwoods and I vacillate between “celebrating” V-Day and ignoring it entirely, but my most favorite Valentine memory is from our senior year in college. I came home from class on the afternoon of February 14th to find that Mr. FW had set something on fire in my room. He was furiously putting out several small flames by jumping around the room waving a piece of construction paper.

Turns out, he’d set my homemade card on fire with a candle he’d positioned a tad too close to said card. He was successful in stemming the flames and presented me with the charred remains of a charming paper card he’d created using markers and tape (at first I assumed he’d conned a kindergartener into drawing on the card, but then I realized it was his very own artwork. It was special).

Frugal Hound represents with some candy corn

Frugal Hound represents with some candy corn

I also noted a bucket of candy corn on my desk. Irrationally and with no sound reason at all, the ‘corn is my fave candy. Apparently he’d ranged far and wide to locate candy corn in February–a fact I didn’t doubt after we discovered it was quite stale indeed. But naturally, I ate it anyway (I’m both too frugal and too obsessed with candy corn to allow some stale-ness to get in my way).

This vignette is a perfect illustration of how we typically roll on holidays: mostly homemade, possibly a little stale, and with food always involved. I think holidays, and Valentine’s Day in particular, get a bad rap in the frugal sphere. But far from shunning them, Mr. FW and I embrace them.

While I don’t look at the calendar and think “oh yeah, I should tell Mr. FW I love him,” I do think there’s a certain amount of whimsy and fun that comes from delighting in holidays. As I write this, we don’t have anything in particular planned for Valentine’s Day this year–it’s on a Sunday so we’ll go to church and then probably take a walk or perhaps go snowshoeing. And that’ll be just fine with me. I find that discovering celebration in the smallest of things makes me a more gratitude-filled person. With no grand expectations of holidays, I’m thrilled by simple gestures and pleasures.

A Poll On How To Celebrate V-Day (without store-bought stuff)

In the vein of relishing the simple beauty of life, I polled my mom and sister for their musings on Valentine’s Day and on what makes a relationship special year after year. Rather than give store-bought things to each other, I wanted to know what they do with their spouses to foster a deep attachment that spans a lifetime.

Full disclosure: I am not so organized or smart that I thought of this idea in advance. I happened to call my mom yesterday and she and my sister were in the car together, so they put me on speaker and I figured since I had the brain trust, I’d go ahead and ask for suggestions. But we had to cut the conversation short because my sister had to go teach a ballet class, my mom had to take my niece to horseback riding, and I had to take out Frugal Hound (which has become a serious feat with Babywoods in tow–I am positive we look ridiculous). So it wasn’t exactly our most thorough of discussions, but it made me reflect that we don’t need a lot of time to make connections with the people we love. Imagine what I could do if I actually planned this stuff out! Whoa! (don’t worry, it’ll never happen).

I’ve always felt that buying gifts is rather the easy way out in the context of a relationship. Anyone can walk into a store and grab a gift. It takes a great deal more thought and care to instead do something authentic and meaningful for one’s partner. I waxed on about this at length in last year’s A Frugal Weirdo’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Manifesto (geez, I really got excited with that title, didn’t I). And Mr. FW and I find that we prefer not exchanging gifts and instead creating experiences–however modest–that serve to deepen our relationship.

Ideas for doing rather than buying:

1) Volunteer together.

Frugal Hound volunteers to test out your food... especially if it's sausage

Frugal Hound volunteers to test out your food… especially if it’s sausage

My mom, who has been married to my dad for 48 years, shared that one of the most important aspects of their relationship is that they volunteer together. Huh, thought I. Not perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when you enumerate the tenets of long marriages. But she has a good point. According to my mom, aside from open communication, respect, and love (duh), volunteering yields opportunities for she and my dad to simultaneously help other people and also learn more about one another.

My mom relayed that when they volunteer together, she gets to see my dad in a new light–he’s focusing on the needs of others and working in service of them. My parents have performed a gamut of volunteer activities over the decades–everything from building houses with Habitat for Humanity to serving Thanksgiving dinners at homeless shelters to fundraising for their church.

In addition, volunteering enables my parents to spend time together engaged in a purposeful activity. It’s not focused on consuming or on money, or on their own wants and needs. It’s a beautiful way to connect with a partner that’s not only frugal (hey!), but also altruistic. Now that my parents are retired, they’re incredibly active volunteers and my mom runs a volunteer project, but they’ve always made time for service in their lives. We used to volunteer as a family quite often while I was growing up and it’s something I want to incorporate into Babywoods’ upbringing.

2) Create a memory book.

My mom said she wishes she’d written down what she and my dad did together on every special occasion and holiday during their marriage. While she might not have done that, she does have a massive collection of photo albums documenting their lives together (all organized by date and labeled!). As a person who never even prints out a photo, I’m quite impressed by her photographic fortitude.

Now I really want to make such a memory book–I’m loving the idea of flipping through it with Mr. FW in 20 years and remembering that one time when we lived in Cambridge, MA… I’ll probably just type it up in a Google doc because I am the least crafty person imaginable and if there was any requirement for it to be “cute,” I’d surely fail.

3) Commit random acts of kindness.

Mr. FW shoveling our snow is a wonderful act of kindness

Mr. FW shoveling our snow is a wonderful act of kindness

This was my sister’s wonderful tip as a way to squeeze in celebrating your relationship when you happen to be parenting three kids (+ one dog), working, and taking care of chickens, grape vines, and sundry other garden/farm/house projects as she and her husband are.

She suggested finding small ways to give back to your partner–perhaps by washing their car or sending them funny texts throughout the day. I adore these ideas because they don’t require any money or a huge time commitment, yet they’re profound all the same. Giving your time to your partner is a perfect way to demonstrate respect and compassion.

4) Engage in genuine conversation.

Ask each other questions, be passionate about listening, and be fully present and engaged in the conversation. Sounds majorly simple, but this is actually what I want to do this year. Mr. FW and I are so often dashing around “accomplishing” things that it’s rare for us to really sit down across from one another and engage in conversation that doesn’t necessarily have a purpose (like creating a Costco list or brainstorming techniques for teaching Frugal Hound how to do tricks).

Back when we were dating, this is pretty much the only type of conversation we had–after all we were young! in love! had no major responsibilities! But now that we’re running a household and being parents, I find that the vast majority of our conversations are, necessarily, about logistics and planning. This is good because we’re both all about planning and logistics (nothing makes either of us happier than a well-organized spreadsheet), but I want to challenge us to just enjoy one another’s company without needing to solve a household problem or come up with a specific plan-o-action.

Love People, Not Things

This Valentine’s Day, don’t fall victim to the pre-fabricated crutch of hackneyed floral arrangements and ill-advised gigantic stuffed bears (who actually buys those things anyway?). Instead, seek authentic intimacy with your partner, your family, your close friends. While I’ll admit it is sort of a dumb holiday, it can still be an opportunity to demonstrate that you care for someone–with actions rather than with material goods.

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? How do you stay connected with your partner year after year?

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56 Responses

  1. I also love these little goofy holidays, but I will not allow us to break the bank over them. Mr. MMM and I prefer experiences over gifts. This year we were planning to attend a beer/bacon and chocolate/wine event at a local winery. It doesn’t require tickets or reservations, and their are going to be vendors there with samples of free stuff! And live music. Unfortunately, almost 3k people have the same idea, prompting the winery to post how crowded and cold it will be, and actually suggesting that some people wait a month for their next bacon/beer event. Sigh. Either way, we’ll find something else that’s cheap, fun, and unique.

    On a side note, you should definitely start a memory book! Mr. MMM and I are using our wedding guest book as our memory book. We love filling up the pages with things we would surely forget otherwise. 🙂

  2. I love your parents’ example of volunteering together! One of the reasons we felt ready to get engaged (a long time ago now) was because we’d seen each other serving other people and learning the character qualities that come with that service.

    We stay connected in many of the ways you mentioned, and now Valentine’s day is a fun excuse to make cookies and draw cards with the kids. My husband even made the kids adorable cards for the little Valentine’s mailboxes he helped them make. I have to say this got to my heart way more than any gift or fancy dinner could have.

  3. Kate says:

    Yay! I, too, love all holidays and I always feel sad that I am supposed to “hate” Valentine’s Day if I am also non-consumeristic. But I love a random reason to tell everyone in my life that I love them. I always send funny Valentine e-cards to my best friends and silly little homemade gifts to my parents. I also try to challenge myself to tell my partner something I love about him that I’ve never told him before. It usually becomes a good excuse to think about how we’ve grown together in the past year and to take a moment to stop and really talk to you each other, like you mentioned. Thanks for the post!

  4. Excellent options! And I love how you’re not eschewing the holiday altogether. I’m all for filling up the doldrums of winter with celebrations of all kinds. We don’t do a whole lot to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but I will bring home some kind of treat when I grocery shop this weekend. We mostly celebrate the holiday together by doing something fun with our nephews and goddaughter. I feel like most holidays are even more wonderful when enjoyed through a child’s eyes.

  5. Commit random acts of kindness.!! It’s amazing how great doing something for others make us feel. It’s Rewarding! Love it.

  6. What an awesome post! We are exactly like you two – I love the holiday but do not want to be spending money! With kids in the picture now, we’ll make homemade heart-shaped pancakes on Sunday morning, then maybe do a little baking or a Valentine’s-themed craft. I’m sure my husband and I will make a nice dinner once the girls go to bed. He will most likely get me flowers, too. He’s pretty good about randomly buying flowers, and while I definitely don’t need them, the gesture is appreciated 🙂

    LOVE your mom’s idea about volunteering together!! I also never would have thought about that as something special to do with one another, but I can completely see how it fosters a healthy, loving relationship. Tell your mama thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend, Frugalwoods!

  7. Laura says:

    Love it – my hubby always gives me a sappy card that he spends days writing out in secret. It is very cute – he grabs a card out of my stash of homemade cards my Mom gave us (sometimes I get a Christmas card or a get well soon card lol) and that is our only gift. This year we have exciting plans – a nice dinner at home (menu undecided atm) and then the Walking Dead at 9pm!!! w00t w00t! lol

  8. Ali says:

    We are making a cheese board with cheeses that we first tried on our honeymoon (5 years ago). We tend to focus on food or experiences, or both!

  9. I totally agree with you that there’s something wonderful about finding a little whimsy in even the less major holidays. Great tips, I want to give the memory book a try. We should all print more pictures!

  10. Cindi M says:

    I love all of these suggestions. We celebrate pretty much every holiday around here, but always the frugal route. Homemade cards and a homemade dessert are always on the list for Valentine’s day. This year we are celebrating all weekend by doing some of our favorite things together. Today we are headed to the local hot springs, tonight will be board games and homemade calzones. Tomorrow is snow-shoeing in the morning. In the afternoon we’re going to attend a lecture on chocolate at the local grocery co-op (free samples are promised), then a free puppy playtime class at the pet store (we have a new puppy.) Sunday after church we’re going to just hang out together and make a dessert to eat with dinner.
    I have friends who exchange love notes every day for Feb. 1 – 14. No real cost, but a great Valentine’s idea, I think.

  11. I just read this out loud to my husband, and he said (in particular, in response to “Love People, Not Things”), “I think I love things.” What’s a would-be frugal wife on Valentine’s to do?

    • Miranda says:

      My first thought is to ask him why. So often we attach meanings to things that are unrelated to the object. Once we figure out what they are, we can figure out how to get what we want a different way, so the original item is no longer important. I hope that makes sense!

  12. sam says:

    I too love all the holidays, and celebration involve food. Sonya Ann at A Mom, Money , and More just posted a decadent and simple cake recipe. that with maybe something like steaks and au gratin potatoes-neither made often but my husbands favorites. We might see a matinee movie. Simple and not spendy.

  13. julie says:

    We are making cheese and chocolate fondue on Valentine’s Day. We purchased some cheese and chocolate from Trader Joe’s and will be dipping things to our heart’s content.

    I did buy a toy for my dog because my dad sent a few bucks and asked that his grandchild get a squeaky toy.

  14. Mrs PoP says:

    We made our Valentine’s day plans this morning (but actually they weren’t so much V-day plans as plans for the weekend). Since the weather is supposed to be nice and we’ve got Monday off, we’ll be riding our bikes to the beach and walking the beach for sunset on Sunday. One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon!

  15. Shannon says:

    We also have never celebrated V-day the usually TV way. We volunteer a lot (probably way too much) through out the year already. I may make some heart shaped brownies (I think I acquired a heart shaped dish once), or make a dinner at home, but that only happened a handful of times.

    Our most memorable V-day weekend was the year we built an igloo (received an igloo making kit for Christmas made by Grand Shelters) to sleep in waaaaay up in the mountainous wilderness of Utah. Really THE most physically taxing thing I’ve ever done. Skied/skinned uphill about 6 hours into the wilderness in a snow storm, then spent another 5 hours building the igloo. There are some awesome ski lines that are just too far to get to in a regular day tour; hence the igloo. You sleep there and wake up all “refreshed” and ski! (The ski out is much quicker.) Plus it stays intact for weeks on end so you can return to it in following weeks. I don’t think it was ever meant to be actually romantic – well maybe each of us had envisioned snuggling up inside to stay cozy and some spiked hot cocoa – but I recall a few screaming matches about me never ever doing this again and some extreme hangriness and pure exhaustion. We laugh about it now and it makes a good story. I’m glad I did it plus I have the most amazing photo of me skiing the most perfect untouched ski line with a spectacular backdrop. It was no cost, the trailhead was pretty close and we brought food from home. We adventured out with the igloo making kit a handful of times, but now we mostly just build igloos in the yards of our friends who have kids. This year will ski again – hello 3 day weekend!

  16. Lorna says:

    I’m in the UK and haven’t heard of snowshoeing, what is this?

    • Rose Eckl says:

      It is a metho used for walking on top the snow instead of sinking down into it. A snowshoe is like a big tennis racket you strap onto each foot.

  17. Josh says:

    I made my wife a homemade card & will be taking her out to eat at an affordable restaurant (I save candlelights for home), that will double as our date night this month so we will be able to have a distraction-free meaningful conversation (#4) away from home.
    Our local news channel said the average person is going to be spending $150 on Valentine’s day this year. We won’t be spending anywhere near that amount.

  18. Diana says:

    A couple thoughts on memory books…Costco (photo section online) offers photo books now that can be as easy or as elaborate as you’d like them. You can do everything from just dumping all your pictures in the book, to making really nice layouts with comments. I just created one for last year’s photos and it cost me about $20. Admittedly, I’m the worst person ever at remembering to take pictures of events, but I did get the highlights of the year and it didn’t take long at all…maybe a couple hours at most (including the time it took me to figure out how to do it–the next one will be much faster). We also keep a composition notebook in the kitchen with a few pages dedicated to every family member (including animals) and anyone can write down a memory or something cute that person/creature said or did. It is NOT fancy at all, but we thumb through it every now and then and all usually end up laughing. It also has writing from all the kids in their various stages of handwriting, so it’s kind of precious in that way too.

  19. S Gaelle says:

    Love your vibe! Our wedding anniversary is Feb 20 so we always made Val Day about family – heart shaped sugar cookies and a special dinner. Now that the kids are launched it’s typically frozen pizza, Prosecco and Netflix!

  20. These are all lovely ideas!

    Valentine’s Day is something we don’t do much for as a couple anymore, but maybe a little something for or with our daughter. This year, my husband and daughter are going to visit my in-laws in NJ for the weekend, so I’m getting a quiet weekend to myself at home. (This is a wonderful gift in my book!) I’m having several friends over for cocktails and desserts (potluck!) tomorrow night, finishing the book I’m reading, and sleeping in. And I spent a little money buying some chocolates for my husband and daughter, which I’ll give them when the get home on Sunday. 🙂

  21. Kristine MacKayGuardino says:

    My husband surprised me and created a romantic and intimate “French restaurant ” right inside of our 9′ x 9′ detached bonus room /storage room, breaking our usual tradition of going out to eat and it was the best Valentine’s Day ever . He distracted me by surprising me with a hot bubble bath and candles when I came home that day, and while I was relaxing in the tub, he very miraculously cooked fillet mignon, vegetables, and mini chocolate lava cakes in the shape of hearts . He brought in our weathered and “very rustic “outdoor table into the room and our outdoor chairs and set up candles and French music playing on Pandora . Creativity, love, and frugality all wrapped up into one made it the best and most thoughtful Valentine’s Day we’ve ever had in 15 years. We took a step backward and downsized in our rental situation from our dream mid century home we were renting to a “very rustic “house on the back roads of town to keep true to our financial goals and it made it all the more special that year.

  22. pat pickett says:

    I am a hopeless romantic. Valentine’s Day is special for all sorts of reasons to me. It was the day I received my engagement ring. Now, before you all think this is going to be a cheesy story and predictable, you’re wrong. I do not like the idea of diamonds. That’s my prejudice about where they come from and how they are mined. Okay. I knew I was not going to get a diamond ring. That is a good thing. Our engagement actually happened on February 10th. Now, unless you are Catholic and unless you are connected to Benedictines in some way this day will not be special for you. I was a Benedictine nun for five years and so this day was really special for me because February 10th, in the Catholic Church is the feast day of St. Scholastica, the twin sister of St Benedict. The religious order of Benedictine monks and women monastics came from these two persons. Okay, that’s enough religious info. The thing was, Sam knew how important that day was to me. I was a little surprised that no ring came with that proposal because we had talked at length about no diamond and I was wondering what he would do. Well, it looked like he was taking me up on my diamond protest and he was not going to do anything about a ring. But, come Valentine’s day and the ring also came. It is my cherished cigar band ring. That’s it. A real cigar band was what the love of my life put on my finger. Oh, you’re right – I couldn’t wash dishes, clean toilets, do anything with it on and I told him so. He laughed and said, “this is for just being in one another ‘s presence. You can’t do anything and I can’t do anything but be for one another…” And that’s how it was with Sam. He died not quite a year later, only two months before we were to be married…but Sam is forever in my heart and I’m looking at my cigar band ring right now. I keep it close.

  23. We’ll be using free movie passes — with free popcorn and drink vouchers — to go see Deadpool. I figure blood is red. (And, if you want to be morbid, far more in the true spirit of Valentine’s Day.)

    I’m not a huge fan of the holiday, much to my husband’s chagrin. It involves too much buying and too many crowds. You can’t get into any restaurant without a long wait or reservations, even unromantic ones. It mainly just irritates me. Though the post-holiday, 50% off candy sales I don’t mind so much.

    One fun activity people can do: Go to the grocery store around 5-6 p.m. and watch the frantic men in long lines clutching last minute flowers, cards and gifts. They look so panicked that it makes for great people watching.

  24. skm says:

    I do admit that I got my husband a huge Reeses candy heart at the grocery store last night. Because he loves Reeses and it was so ridiculous, I couldn’t help it. We have two toddlers, so going out will not be on our agenda, but I anticipate a wonderful morning with heart-shaped pancakes and probably heart-shaped pizza for dinner. 🙂

  25. Darlene says:

    I plan to cook my hubby a homemade fondue meal, a.k.a. Darlene’s version of The Melting Pot meal! In candle light, of course! The Melting Pot is a popular, highly over priced fondue chain restaurant in our area which I loved but gave up in an effort to be more frugal. So we still enjoy the “fondue fare” without the hefty price or get hooked into the commercialism of the day! Also I hv a massage table and have given hubby oiled full body massages at home…w candles, background music and aromatherapy scents as well! Not a dime spent there!

  26. Miranda says:

    I love the idea of volunteering together! I’m still single, but it’s definitely something I will plan on for when I’m not.

    Several years ago I got my mom and grandma on board with doing something special together on holidays ranger than exchanging gifts. We all loved it. Now they’ve passed on, and no one else in my family is on board. I have a nephew now, though, and I plan to do experiences with him.

    I agree with you that talking time to do something means more than buying an easy gift. Thanks for all the ideas.

  27. holly says:

    My hubby & I started volunteering together at a soup kitchen and our next shift is actually on Valentine’s Day!

  28. Ashley says:

    We have a tradition of making homemade pizza on Valentine’s Day every year. It’s fun, yummy, relatively inexpensive (we do splurge for fancy pepperoni!) and is something we can continue doing even now with two kiddos.

  29. Sarah Jane says:

    I completely lost interest in holidays years ago. They’re all a real chore to me. I know (from experience dating other men) that the labor involved in cultural celebrations isn’t necessarily a lady’s task, but the men and boys from my married life aren’t interested in it. I’m a “separate, but equal” kinda gal in terms of gender economics… I’m totally okay with adhering to traditional gender norms while my husband makes a lot of money… we both are doing our parts fairly… but if you’ve ever single handedly put on a homemade Thanksgiving dinner for 10 you KNOW the work of holidays can be a real commitment of time and energy and don’t think it’s right if by and large the preparation of celebrations falls on my lap… *especially* when the reality is that it’s not all that important for the contentment of the individuals in my family anyway. So after the first year or two I simply stopped trying to do anything… and our marriage is intact! Woot!

    My husband’s 40th birthday is the same week of Valentine’s Day…. the most I’m doing is driving him down to Portland (3 hour drive) and buying him a particular milkshake (“Mayan milkshake” ) from a particular chocolate store (Moonstruck Cafe). Of course, if you’ve ever tried it, you’d understand it’s absolutely sufficient for such a milestone. Really… it’s THAT amazing!

    • Noreen says:

      I like your style! I don’t like holidays too much either, they seem to create obligations that I never agreed to accept. However, I do love Halloween!
      Enjoy the shake! Is that Portland, ME or Portland, OR? Maine is doable for me and it would be a delightful ride when the weather gets warmer.

  30. Peach and I celebrate on February 15th. It started as a tradition in college when he had to work our first Vday together. Then he came to my door on February 15th with a bunch of silly trinkets, and I questions (kindly) why he’d spend the money. He pointed out everything was deeply discounted because it was the day after Valentine’s Day! Now we indulge on drastically discounted chocolates on February 15th, and will probably spring for a stuffed animal for Mosby (my dog), that he can promptly rip to shreds.

  31. MandalayVA says:

    Count me in with the “nice dinner at home” crowd. We even have the sparkling cider we’d planned to have on New Year’s but forgot about that we can drink from our fancy Riedel wine glasses. And I’m hitting the supermarket at six a.m. on the fifteenth to scoop up chocolate. 😀

  32. Jennifer says:

    My Husband I and I always cook a steak dinner together on Valentines day, and then watch some movie or TV show that we’ve been waiting a while to see. I love when we cook together, its a lot of fun!

  33. I’ve just discovered your blog and am loving it. This post in particular is really useful as my wife, Mrs. Else, and I have an on-going conversation about how our frugality applies to gifts and holidays generally. It helps to further winnow away at the socially sanctioned notion that holidays are only properly celebrated when store-bought gifts are exchanged. In particular, the random acts of kindness is great!

  34. Michelle says:

    I’m a sucker for anything love related. Christmas is a fave holiday too. Valentine’s lately have been frugal, cuz when you’re single, there’s no one to take out! LOL! But I’ve also stopped with the pay dating websites so that’s something.
    I love the cute card story…poor Mr Frugalwoods!

  35. Such great tips! One Valentine’s Day I made my boyfriend a collage of Reese Witherspoon pictures (his celeb crush) and his favorite meal of grilled cheese and tomato soup. I used a big cookie cutter to make the sandwich the shape of a heart. The little things make the biggest impact in my opinion!

  36. Sunshine says:

    My husband writes me and my two kids love letters every birthday and holiday. His job has him leaving really early in the morning so we wake up to these wonderful hand-written (albeit messy and sometimes hard to read) letters that really just feed into us and tell us what he loves about us and are so affirming and life giving to us all. It started out of my natural frugality — as I watched the price of cards that my husband bought for me go from around $1 to around $4 or more. And finally (not very romantically, I’ll admit), I told him how much I loved what he wrote inside the card more than the card itself. It saves him time, us money and he writes even more on notebook paper than he ever wrote in a card. It’s a family tradition that I love and am so very thankful for!

  37. Mr. Thriftyskate and I like to celebrate small holidays like Valentine’s Day with a special home-cooked dinner or dessert. The day after the holiday, we also like to take advantage of the sales on holiday-themed candy 🙂 This year we will be taking our daughter to a cousin’s birthday party on Valentine’s Day. Definitely a great way to spend the day!

  38. Barbara says:

    My birthday is Valentine’s Day, and my husband’s is earlier in February. We are not nearly as frugal as you are, and do eat out, but try to do it with intent, rather than just randomly. Sometimes we eat out the weekend between our birthdays, and we’ve learned from long experience not to even try to go out right around Valentine’s Day. This year our daughter will be home from college later in the month, and we’ve already arranged to delay it and go out with her when she is home. Hubby has already bought me a potted mini-jonquil/azalea/african violet (Costco) and will likely buy me some sea-salt caramels (from a local candy store). I always ask him what he wants for his birthday. Sometimes it is a particular home-cooked meal, and on occasion new running shoes, which he’d surely get anyway. One year he said something about not being able to find chocolate Twizzlers for a long time. I found them at the Kroger near work, and packaged 4 bags of them as a gift for him.

  39. Kim says:

    May I ask for your opinion on life insurance? Maybe write a post on it?

  40. The Roamer says:

    You should totally do a memory book. Might in also suggest doing one for babywoods .

    This actually showed up on last year’s goals. I try to write into my kids ones once a month or when something memorable happens

  41. Marissa says:

    Well, I’m single at the moment, so no extra expenses going to restaurants with a significant other here. xD But I did spend about $35.00 in January getting Valentine’s Day cards ready for friends and family. I know that sounds like a lot of money just for Valentine’s Day cards, but what made it a lot of money is that I crafted them this year. Not the cards themselves, but the envelopes and inside the cards. Also, special stamps for the holiday. Even though I spent a lot of money on the cards, I thought it was worth it because I love giving out cards to peopke I like and love. C: That makes it all wirth while to me! ^^

    Happy Vakentine’s Day! C:

  42. MEL810 says:

    Love candy corn,too! My fav candy is malted milk balls.
    We did an early VD celebration because places hike prices on the actual day. I had long wanted to attend the Mardi Gras celebration at one of Virginia’s many wineries. So we drove to this beautiful setting and for $15.00 per each and had a whole of gumbo, chili, French bread, cheese and faux King Cake. Included in the fee were cute wine glasses, Mardi Gras beads, a cellar tour and tasting and all the wine you wanted to taste in the tasting room. This particular winery has 60 wines! Red wines, white wines, roses, sparkling, dessert, fruit, dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet and sweet! Yum! Can you tell I’m a bit of a wino?
    In most restaurants,you couldn’t get a reasonable size serving of gumbo for $15.00, much less all you care to eat! And even a glass of house plonk would cost $5-7 a glass. So we got a good deal and had a great time!
    Re: cards – we just do the 50 cent type from the dollar store. When I used to have more time and energy, I would create a photoshop VD design.

  43. Happy Valentine’s Day to you Frugalwoods. That is really a good way to celebrate the occasion. Hope you two have fun!

  44. JoyceL says:

    My husband and I have been wanting to get passports for several years so we can be ready for a somewhat spontaneous (i.e. take advantage of an awesome last minute deal!) trip to ANYWHERE. He has a work passport and travels a lot… My daughter is going to Mexico this summer and we looked at each other thinking we could do that except we don’t have passports! So for VD we are getting those teeny little photos taken and sitting down to fill out the Passport Application together! Probably have a glass of wine to celebrate and make something special for dinner. Just hoping he doesn’t break down at the last moment and buy those ridiculously expensive roses that last for two days!

  45. Jim Wang says:

    We always cook dinner together for our Valentine’s Day and it’s become our tradition. Over the years, we’ve gotten pretty good at it too!

  46. I love this! Volunteering together and random acts of kindness are the best suggestions when discussing Valentine’s Day and doing things with and for the people we love – along with the little tokens of affection, like cooking together, or giving buckets of candy corn! Thank you for not frugal-shaming Valentine’s Day. I know a big part of me thinks, oh this is just a Hallmark day meant to drum up the economy post January sales slump, but a bigger part of me loves the holiday meant to celebrate love and being in love, whether it’s with a significant other or friends and family. Thank you for reminding us that if we chose to see this holiday as one of doing for one another as opposed to buying for one another, it can still be a luxuriously frugal day to celebrate love.

  47. James says:

    We take care of our relationship by just sharing our day, how it has been and almost anything, and make sure that everything is clearly communicate. We try to solve each issue as early as possible. These have worked so far and we’re grateful about these.

  48. Linda says:

    I always enjoy your articles. You new daughter is adorable. Just wanted to comment on the candy corn…mix some peanuts with them for extra treat for your taste buds.

  49. Karen says:

    Yesterday was one of the best valentines days we have had. It was so special and didn’t cost us anything extra. We both made a (simple) meal at home together for dinner and made a dessert(chocolate covered strawberries) for after. We sat at the table with candles lite and just enjoyed the moment and conversation. I wouldn’t ask for more. I also made a card and he usually writes a sweet love note of sorts. We watched a rented(from library) movie after. Sweet and simple. Plus, the fact that last night while we enjoyed this moment it was snowing hard out and roads were bad. I was glad to not be going out! I think we may start to carry on this tradition. Some years we did nothing and another we ate out(with a gift card of course!).

    I really love your idea of volunteering together. I think the best thing is being able to share in moments together, like us cooking dinner.

  50. As always, great article! I agree that Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to reconnect with your significant other – especially when life gets really busy and it can be easy to take each other for granted. I feel fortunate that my husband quickly learned that I would rather receive small (no cost) gestures throughout the year rather than a big gift one day each year. I have also tried to be better about focusing on the little things each day, including making dedicated time for my husband (which used to come so easy when we were dating!).

  51. Kim from+Philadelphia says:

    I’m on the same holiday wavelength!
    Spending time together and having a loved one do a “gift of service” for me like making dinner and cleaning up is the BEST!

    I do try to add a bit of no cost whimsy to the holiday. I wrapped a thick red ribbon around our front door grapevine wreath. Ribbon recycled from a holiday gift!
    I’ll bust out the red napkins and placemats.
    My husband got a bag of York Peppermint Patties as his gift.
    Years ago my son was gifted a cute little mailbox (from Target I assume)
    We’ve kept it and pull it out a few days before V day. I’ll
    Put a tiny treat in it each day (lollipop, homemade cookies, bubble gum, nite that gets him out of a chore)
    He loves arriving downstairs in the morning and looking for the upraised mailbox flag, signaling his treat!

  52. Kelly says:

    Love this post! My husband and I try to focus on energy more on doing things together rather than buying for each other. We really accomplished this for Christmas this past year. With having such little space in our tiny apartment (also in Cambridge, MA!) and both being graduate students, we decided to spend a day out in the city having fun with each other instead of buying gifts for each other.
    One way that we also make time for each other on a regular basis is by making coffee on the weekends and having a conversation with each other. Sometimes this turns into a planning or organizing conversation, but more often it’s simply about getting to know each other more and talking about whatever is on our mind, no matter how strange or random it might be.

  53. Jillena says:

    The Valentine’s Day after our daughter was born, we dropped her off at the rents for an afternoon. We drove to a quiet spot and did this list of questions: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/no-37-big-wedding-or-small.html?referer=&_r=0. Best.Day.Ever.

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