My two Valentines

The intersection of money and romantic relationships represents one of the most volatile combinations. Furthermore, disagreements over money are a leading cause of divorce in the United States. Clearly, we have unresolved issues over not just our money, but how we spend our money in service of our relationships. And into this fray enters Valentine’s Day, the ultimate consumer binge on useless clutter designed to be generically, thoughtlessly romantic.

Wait, wait, you say! Valentine’s Day is cute! It’s fun! And, actually, I agree. I am, after all, a supreme sucker for holidays. But even I, the holiday devotee, have to admit that Valentine’s Day is a tad too transparent in its thinly veiled prompts to spend money on things we obviously do not need.

Our culture promotes an ersatz paradigm of demonstrating emotion through material goods. And Valentine’s Day hits this notion at its very heart: we’re supposed to express how much we love our significant other through buying them… stuff.

When In Doubt, Buy A Gift!

Me and my main (ok, only) man

Early on in our relationship, Mr. Frugalwoods and I fell victim to the tropes of February 14th. He sent flowers to my office, I bought him… something? I can’t even remember what. We were following the societal expectations that surround this holiday and nascent relationships in general.

When you’re still finding your footing in a relationship, it’s tempting to fall back on the cultural norms of chocolates, flowers, and stuffed bears. After all, that’s the easy way out. It doesn’t require you to intimately know or connect with your partner–you just click around online and voilà! Flowers arrive in their office on the prescribed date. Beyond the expense of hewing to the expectation of store-bought gifts, it’s also impersonal. It doesn’t reflect your unique relationship or your unique closeness.

Buying stuff also allows us to paper over potentially serious rifts in a relationship, as in “Here, I bought you this thing instead of talking to you about our disagreement over ____.” Reflecting on the times when Mr. FW and I relied on the simplistic solution of gift giving, I’ve realized those were also the rockiest times in our relationship history. Coincidence? I think not. When things weren’t going well for us, we turned to the trite cliché of spending money in an effort to make it all better. As I’m sure you can surmise, these gifts did nothing to help our relationship or solve our problems. It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with gifts, it’s just that they can become a crutch for avoiding issues we’d rather not confront.

Me and Mr. FW as shadow puppets

A number of years ago, realizing we were employing gifts as just such a crutch, Mr. FW and I decided to stop exchanging gifts altogether (for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, birthdays, etc). This had the dual benefit of saving money every holiday and also prompted us to get more creative–and as a result, more genuine–in our acknowledgment of these occasions. We only came to this decision after realizing we’d fallen victim to the old consumer trap of trying to engineer material goods to serve as stand-ins for human emotions.

We get a little dopamine jolt when we unwrap a gift–that’s only natural. But when we start to equate that jolt with love, we’re treading into dangerous territory–particularly in relation to our significant other.

Two years ago, I utilized my Valentine’s Day post to discuss how forced consumerism doesn’t foster a deeper bond. Additionally, if you feel the need to buy tons of gifts for your lover, there might be something amiss in your relationship that needs to be addressed. I outlined the conversation guide Mr. FW and I employ when we have something weighty or challenging to discuss, and I hope it might be of use to you too.

Celebrating Like Some True Frugal Weirdos

Us hiking

Just because I consider Valentine’s Day a largely commercialized, saccharine joke doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate it. I find there’s usually a frugal analogue, or alternative, for most traditionally spendy, buying-focused events. Mr. FW and I really don’t skip any holidays or celebrations, we simply employ the art of frugal substitution and celebrate in our own way. We are wide-eyed and aware of special occasion spending triggers!

As kids, my siblings and I always made our own Valentines to hand out to our friends and classmates. My mom had this wonderful box of construction paper, paper lace doilies, and glitter that she brought out every year and I’d spend hours drawing, cutting, and pasting little hearts. I was terrible at crafts even then, but no matter, I loved the process. This is something I look forward to instituting when Babywoods is old enough (she’s currently at the stage of putting crayons directly into her mouth, so uh, we’ll wait awhile longer for glitter… ).

Mr. FW and I often make homemade Valentines for each other and… he’s an even worse artist than me. We have many skills, but drawing and crafting are not among them. Despite our shortcomings in artistry, making cards for each other is simple, cheap, and demonstrates a great deal more sentiment than something store-bought. Sidenote on cards: I like to send cards to our families for occasions like Mother’s Day and birthdays and I buy them for $1 at the Dollar Store–they’re nice cards too! Since cards in the regular store are circa $3-$5, I’m a huge fan of my Dollar Store workaround.

Some of our past homemade cards

Mr. FW and I also “celebrate” Valentine’s Day by enjoying a home cooked meal and a glass of boxed wine together. Although I’m all for demonstrating our love for one another year round, it’s also fun to celebrate holidays in our own hokey, frugal fashion.

Just because we embrace extreme frugality doesn’t mean we ignore these largely commercial holidays. We instead focus on time spent together–which is what my parents were cleverly doing in having us make our own Valentines around the kitchen table.

I also want to point out that–if you plan to go the commercial route–there’s a tremendous downside to celebrating Valentine’s Day on the actual February the 14th. Restaurants are packed, the food is likely to be overpriced and subpar, and there’s a whiff of anxiety in the air as everyone labors to publicly demonstrate their epic love. If you want to eat out to mark the occasion, choose a different day of the week. Same goes for chocolates and cards–buy them after the actual event for a fraction of the price. I’m now making a mental note to cruise the aisles for discount chocolates on February 15th…

Crowdsourced V-Day Celebration Ideas

Babywoods on V-day last year! This year she’s walking and talking!!!

Last year I polled my wise mom and sister for their best Valentine’s Day celebration tips and they landed on the theme of “actions rather than presents.” I outlined their recommendations here: A Frugal Valentine’s Day: Do Instead Of Buy.

This year, I decided to turn to another stellar resource–the readers of Frugalwoods! I polled our Facebook group for your suggestions on how to celebrate in fine frugal fashion and you responded with gusto. There were too many responses for me to include them all, but I’ve tried my best to hit the hight points below–many thanks to everyone who weighed in!

How Frugalwoods Readers Celebrate:

Dani said: “A picnic is always a win, indoors probably, being February. A bottle of inexpensive champagne and homemade chocolate covered pretzel sticks is an under $20 treat that can make the evening festive. Cards and a crockpot of cider would go over well if it’s a family affair or you have friends over. The best celebrations are those tailored to the people involved, celebrating what they LOVE. If you’re outdoorsy, it could be a stroll in the woods, artsy could mean a visit to a local museum, homebodies might find it a great day to bake something decadent.”

Kara shared a cute (and free) gift idea: “My husband is an engineer and likes to play with Excel. One year for Valentine’s Day, he wrote a macro in Excel with a bunch of buttons that I clicked on and there were different messages to pop up to tell me he loves me.”

Can’t beat homemade guacamole. Here’s Mr. FW’s in progress!

Julie has plans for a cozy V-Day: “Something yummy for dinner then watching some tv together with the doggie.”

CL says: “I’m going to surprise my hubby and take him to a new BBQ concession truck and go hiking at a nearby state park and [give him] a handmade love note. I don’t have anything on a wish list other than accomplishing some projects around the house. He also writes awesome handmade notes.”

Parsla shared that: “My local pizza joint does heart-shaped pizzas for Valentine’s Day, so we always get one of those. Cheesy – both meanings of the word.”

Jamie is going to: “Make chocolate covered strawberries at home with the kids! Cheap, fun, festive!”

Mike is going: “Hiking! Making a nice little packed lunch and getting outdoors. Nothing better.”

Jennifer says: “We make homemade pizza, homemade dessert and have friends over for a visit/play.”

Sarah has perhaps the cutest plan: “We make homemade pasta, build a fort (complete with blankets, pillows, and string lights–bonus points if you pull the mattress off the bed), and then drink wine and eat our pasta in it!”

Wendy’s plan is to: “Snuggle up by the fire with a great book, lotion to rub each others feet, and no TV.”

Christina and Jenny both plan to employ some of their new cooking skills! Jenny reports: “My husband learned how to make sushi a while back, and that is what we generally do on special nights. Since we usually already have on hand nearly all the stuff to make it, it’s super cheap, fun, and delicious.”

Look at these frugal weirdos. I bet they didn’t even pay to go on that hike.

And at Christina’s house: “My guy and I just learned how to make pad Thai, so we do the same thing for any date night/special night. Cheap, fun and delicious for sure!!!”

Hannah makes: ” a pie and puts heart crust cutouts on top.”

Caitlin plans on enjoying: “Homemade cookies and a bottle of bubbly at home.”

Linda shared that: “Around here it’s homemade… like grade school used to be. We make our own cards… put out the red placemats (used at Christmas, too) eat a favorite homemade meal and relax… keeping it stress free.”

Rhiannon cleverly: “Made a crossword for my husband! He loved it, and it was fun to watch him go through all the clues…”

Bridget says: “My boyfriend always makes egg plant parm for us at home. This year we may try making the noodles from scratch too. We love cooking together so this is a relaxing treat. We’ll play games and watch Netflix together afterwards.”

Hiking together is our idea of a perfect gift.

Dani had good advice for Rusty and Josh–two single guys who commented that they had no plans: “Gentlemen, you have to treat yo’ self, frugally. In the single years, I spent many a Valentine’s doing my nails, having a hot soak, snuggling up with the dog and watching something that made me smile. Food you like, fancy or otherwise, made while listening to music you love, makes it a celebration, bonus for bubbles (bath or champagne)! Galentine’s was always a big hit, but you could just as easily have a Dude’s night, a couple beers, some cards, and people you love (however platonically). If you have a mom who’s a widow, or a sister or aunt who’s single, this’d be a nice time to check in or maybe bake something decadent together, or just go to the movies, even by yourself, and see something you’re excited about.”

Leslie has a yummy plan: “We like to make tacos with all the fixings, margaritas, and do a puzzle while we listen to some Sinatra.”

Emily and her husband have: “A sleepover in our living room. We take the mattress off our bed, pull it into the living room, make popcorn, and watch a movie! We cuddle under the blankets and fall asleep usually watching something we love. We don’t have a TV in our bedroom so it’s a fun treat to watch TV in bed!”

Amy shared that: “Last year we borrowed E.T. from the library and watched it while eating Reece’s Pieces.”

Frugal Hound is Fancy on a Budget
My other, furrier little Valentine

Yamina said: “I’m planning on making and buying lots of “picky bits” like hummus, focaccia, olives, marinated vegetables. We’ll eat it like a picnic on the living room floor, in front of the fire, and make crazy plans for what to do when we’ve paid off the mortgage (6 years to go, and counting!). We will also be having a candlelit bath, which we do most nights right now. Sounds romantic, but our bathroom light blew a couple of weeks ago and our ex-electrician friend is currently out of the country… plus it saves water. Who says romance is dead?!”

Kristen reports: “Honestly the ‘stay at home warm fire nice dinner quiet evening’ sounds pretty great to me… make dinner together and maybe a slow dance in the kitchen ♡ no people no stress!”

Open Hearts, Not Wallets

Instead of the usual hackneyed Valentine devices of expensive jewelry and red roses, I challenge you to reorient your holiday this year. Utilize it as an opportunity to create a deeper connection with your significant other, or with your friends and family.

Savor the beauty of imperfect, homemade cards and inexpensive, homemade meals. Sample from the above suggestions or create a novel approach all your own. The creativity inherent to frugal holidays makes them all the more meaningful and fun. Plus, the pressure to impress via consumerism is absent and you can instead enjoy one another’s company–not to mention all the money you’ll save!

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

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  1. Ever since we first started dating my wife and I made an agreement to not buy each other gifts for Valentine’s Day. We didn’t like the idea of a “holiday just to have a holiday and spend money”. We, too, have always made cards for each other which we find a lot more valuable than gifts (truly, we keep the cards, but flowers last only a week!) Yes, we have gone out to dinner for a mini celebration, but usually avoid the actual night of Valentine’s Day (seriously hard to get reservations or a table anywhere!) Nowadays our holiday will be spent with our son. His daycare is hosting a Valentine’s Ball… we’ll see what this is like!

  2. We splurge on a nice cheese and buy bread. Both are treats. Move the coffee table, put down a blanket in the living room. Start a fire in the fire place and have an indoor picnic. Then with a glass of inexpensive wine, we watch Bottle Shock and cuddle.

    Last year, the fire popped a bit too much and set the carpet on fire. In the midst of putting the smoldering carpet out, we knocked over one of the glasses of wine and dyed the tan carpet red. Altogether, our funniest Valentine’s day yet.

  3. My husband and I started a new tradition last year. We set aside a few bucks and do our own little pub crawl in Lancaster – our cool little town in PA that isn’t just about the Amish 🙂 I must mention that we’re not big drinkers at all. In fact, more times than not, we order one beer and share it. We love getting out and about but we hate spending money foolishly, so we came up with our own tradition that doesn’t involve reservations, expensive flowers, or over-priced chocolates. We make a memory together. It’s not completely free – but it doesn’t break the bank, either, especially since we plan for it.

    I do love the idea of homemade cards though. We just might have to make this one part of our tradition, too.

    Mrs. Mad Money Monster

      1. Oh that is awesome! Of course I have suggestions. One of my absolute favorite places is The Belvedere Inn. Other greats include: John J. Jeffries, Cork and Cap, Aussie and the Fox, and The Horse Inn, just to make a few. There are countless others. I suggest a quick trip advisor search. Lancaster is a reasonably-priced hub of culture. We absolutely love it. …even though most times we just cook at home to save money 🙂

  4. We’ve never done much for Valentine’s Day. Once we did go out for a nice meal, but the restaurant only provided a limited menu and the quality and service was clearly off due to the big crowd. Now, we typically just spend some time enjoying each other’s company or *gasp* barely even recognizing this totally manufactured “Hallmark Holiday”

  5. First of all, 💗Valentine’s Day💗 Is my fave holiday and has been for a long time.
    Over the years I’ve done many different things. One year I had couples over for a party and made heart shape sandwiches, cookies etc.
    But this year I am going with the one I’ve done the most, which is prepare a romantic dinner at home.
    I picked up a tenderloin roast which was a markdown, brought it home and cut it into steaks and froze them. Tenderloin is my husband’s fave and at the price I paid for it I couldn’t resist.
    A friend gave us lava cakes as a gift and they too are in the freezer.
    So, during The Uber Frugal Challenge I realized that both of these things were in the freezer and decided to plan my Valentines Dinner with this in mind.
    Steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and lava cakes with vanilla ice cream. Voila😋

  6. I have to work this year on Valentine’s Day — dorm duty at the boarding school where I work! We’re having an ice cream night with the girls in the dorm, so that will be fun. Not sure I’ll really celebrate with my husband, tho the next week is spring break, so we plan to have plenty of date night evenings (at home with kid in bed) since we aren’t traveling anywhere and won’t have any work to bring home or duty evenings.

  7. We don’t do gifts on Valentine’s day. Part of the reason is my wife’s birthday is not far away, and part is just we didn’t find it added value to our lives. We do take advantage though by stocking up on candy the week after! Heart shaped anything is cheap the week after.

  8. We do the homecooked meal too – we actually have a go-to meal we make each Valentine’s Day (crab cakes) and after all of these years we’ve gotten really really really good at it (which is a bonus!). I don’t mind celebrating commercialized holidays but there’s no way I’m going to get gouged to do it!

  9. Featured in a FW post! Now I know I’ve made it. 😉

    I’m glad to see a frugal blog embrace V day rather than just suggest ignoring it completely. If you can do it for free, or cheap, I don’t see any reason not to take every opportunity available to celebrate (as long as you enjoy it, of course!) Whilst we’re still working 40+ hours a week, we’ll take any excuse to cut through the mundanity of every day life.

  10. We usually recognize Valentine’s day with a few extra kisses and snuggles and a “Happy Valentine’s Day”! No gifts since the first year of dating for us.

    It’s funny, because I think if my husband had tried to implement the gift ban when we first started dating it would have made me cry because I would have thought he didn’t care about me or making me happy. Now we happily forego gifts because neither of us is in danger of thinking that.

  11. I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day other than using it as an opportunity to snag some cheap candy.

    The retailers are getting even more desperate for our money this year. My local Young Professionals group has a networking night that meets somewhere different every month. Last month was at an arcade bar. This month? The local jewelry store. Ridiculous.

  12. These are great ideas! I’ll be honest, I’ve never liked Valentine’s Day. Cutesy isn’t really my thing. But my daughters love it, so I’m looking for frugal ways to celebrate with them. We’re handmaking Valentines for their classmates this year, and I think we’ll do an art project, like make a garland of construction paper hearts or something. (The downside to this plan is that they won’t let me throw it away, so I’ll be staring at a string of hearts for the next two months until it has an “accident.”)

  13. My husband and I usually ignore Valentine’s altogether, as I’m not a lover of all things holiday. Now that our little one is getting older and has friends who share their excitement for the holidays with her, I’m looking for some frugal ways to incorporate her into the holiday. Emily’s idea for a sleepover in the living room is simple but genius; we’ll definitely be trying that out this year! I also loved your mom’s idea of a craft box of materials to make Valentines! I’m going to start keeping an eye out for materials to stash away for next year. Awesome suggestions!

    1. For kids, things like making red dyed pancakes or strawberry milk can be fun too. You can use gel food coloring to get a good red without four million drops (or just do pink pancakes and a pink breakfast with strawberries etc). Not free but fun and not super pricey. Little touches like that are really enjoyable.

  14. My husband told me he’s making me dinner at home this year!! We generally don’t go all out on small holidays like Valentine’s Day so cooking at home is pretty typical for us, regardless of the occasion (to be honest -I’m frequently disappointed in the quality of restaurant food so prefer to cook at home). I’m the main cook in our household so it will be a real treat for me to take a break! After, we will probably watch something on Netflix.

  15. I just have to say that I completely LOVE how you dress up frugal hound. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Thanks for sharing your life so openly.

  16. Since our 9-year anniversary is in March, we are not going out for Valentine’s Day. Instead, I’m going to use my 12+ years old heart shaped cast iron muffin tins from Williams Sonoma to make heart shaped chocolate muffins for my kids on Valentines morning. Then for dinner, we are going to have a family celebration and I’m considering making a homemade pizza (never done one before but I do bread and biscuits so how hard can it be) and steamed broccoli at the request of my 4-year old. I bought my little boys some chocolate heart boxes from Walmart. It needed to be something small because they both have parties at school and it’s sugar overload. In the past, I’ve bought stuffed animals for them and candy but I’m trying to scale back in that area and do more of something homemade at home and special time with family.

    1. Best pizza dough, and cheap! 1 cup warm water, 3 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp yeast. Place in your half off day thrift store bread maker set on dough cycle, and you are good to go. We don’t even go the full cycle, since if everyone is home we are making 7 pizzas. We use that dough as a base for pizza, calzone, stromboli, or chopped leftover roast or turkey, chopped peppers onions, celery, grated cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic. We put it on pizza dough rolled into a thin rectangle, roll it up, former a ring, and bake it on a stone at 375 for 30 or 40 minutes. Kids love to dip it in ranch or ketchup. Great cold too, and uses up leftovers!

    2. homemade pizza is easy! My husband uses the recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook, and the Tightwad Gazette books also have a good recipe. Super easy.

  17. Our typical valentine’s day celebration is to make a fancy dinner at home with my sister (who doesn’t want to be in a relationship but doesn’t want to hear her friends whine about it on that day), and then curl up and watch action movies near the fire. It’s a good thing my husband and sister get along really well!

    This year, well… I’m pregnant and due on the 16th. So let’s just say we’re not making any big plans!

  18. My husband and I usually go out for dinner (not on the 14th, though!). With a large family, it’s wonderful to have time just for us!

    The kids look forward to Valentine’s day for the same reason they look forward to most holidays…food! I make lasagna and dessert and set the table in a pretty way. I usually buy a bag of chocolates and scatter them down the center of the table. They love it!

  19. These are such cute ideas! Mr. Picky Pincher and I are inching closer to the “not buying each other things” end of the spectrum. Last year I made him homemade Dunkaroos (he’d been pining for some for a while). I also cut out 50 paper hearts and wrote one reason I loved him on each heart. I scattered them all over the house and he loved collecting them. 🙂

    Admittedly I have no idea what we’ll do this year. We have gift cards for a movie, so we might go catch a flick. We’ll probably cook a nice-ish dinner at home and watch a movie. Relaxing. 🙂

  20. many years ago my husband and I agreed not to buy each other gifts, for whatever holiday or whim. Yet he does not adhere to this. every holiday that dictates he needs to buy me something, he does. I do not ….how do you overcome the guilt? Of course I’m forced to thank him for his generosity while cringing inside knowing I’ll have to find the money to pay for said gifts

  21. Last year (or maybe it was two years ago now) I splurged and bought a couple heart shaped dog treats at the pet store, put a red kerchief on my pup, took photos of her and posted them on Facebook to make all my friends jealous, because she’s just so darn cute. I might do something like that again this year.

  22. When I was young and my parents were divorcing, a lady from church baked me a heart shaped cake for Valentine’s Day. It was pretty homely looking but it meant the world to me! Now, at this time of year, I remember Dorothy and her loving kindness and I bake a valentine cake for someone who needs a “heart-lift”.

    1. That is such a touching tradition. It’s a beautiful Random Act of Kindness to do for someone. I love that!! Might have to try that myself sometime!

  23. We both have our birthdays in February, and we usually go out to eat once, sometime in between them. This year our daughter has planned to visit at that intervening weekend, and we asked her where she wanted to eat. There’s a Japanese place we all like and she requested that we go for lunch – same food, but cheaper at mid-day. We NEVER go out on the 14th – too crowded, too expensive. Sometimes we also skip the weekend nearest to the 14th for the same reasons. We will make a planned, better-than-weekday-night dinner on the 14th this year.

    I ask hubby if there is something he wants/needs – usually it is new running shoes. He’ll ask me, and I usually say I don’t need anything, but he’ll buy me a plant (longer lasting than flowers) – usually an orchid plant at Kroger or Home Depot (decently, sometimes spectacularly well priced) and some sea-salt caramels from a locally-owned candy store. We both enjoy both of those. (Orchid plants can be very expensive if bought from the fancy growers, but the ones available at Kroger or Home Depot or the like can still be wonderful. Once you learn where they want to be in your house, they will re-bloom. I’ve got two right now that were February gifts, that have re-bloomed before and are still doing fine, with offsets growing on them. Another one of my old ones is currently sporting a spike with 10 buds on it. The last time he bought me one, it was at Home Depot for $5.)

    1. Wow! Iris ….$5.00 your hubby knows how to shop 🙂 Those are very pretty…..I always go and buy the day after candy at Kroger….and this year I will be looking for those plants too… much cheaper…..and I don’t care for the box, but of course the young people do….I used too…..

  24. Me and my husband have never bought into the whole Valentine’s Day consumerism. Valentine’s Day is halfway between our anniversary and my husband’s birthday anyways, so it just didn’t make sense.
    That being said, the discount chocolate is a reason in and of itself to celebrate afterwards! 😀

  25. After we have our daughter, I will likely do something for valentine’s day. (Maybe a heart shaped pancake?) But my husband and I have a long standing tradition of ignoring the holiday completely.

  26. Our tradition is to buy one new houseplant every year around Valentines’ Day, as we both enjoy plants and object to cut flowers from an environmental standpoint. They also cost very little! I somewhat sarcastically refer to these as our “Love Plants.” We may go out to a casual dinner or cook something special at home, depending on our mood. The only rule is no gifts.

  27. I don’t usually do much for Valentine’s Day. It’s more of a enjoy each other’s company and also maybe nature. Sometimes I would get chocolates as I love candy and other times we would probably go out to eat food.

  28. Not quite free, but almost…. About five years into our relationship, I learned that my partner had never visited a photobooth! I was shocked (lol) so I looked to see if I could find one nearby and sure enough, there was one at the local mall. (Who knew? I didn’t, we never went to the mall even though it was right by our house.) So on V Day, we got into the car and drove to the mall — she had no clue as to what we were doing and thought it was really weird that I was taking her to the mall on Valentine’s Day. We had silly photos taken in the photobooth for like $3.95. It was silly and cute and she loved it.

    Since then, we’ve visited photobooths on (or around Valentine’s Day) several times, in different cities and even countries. 😉

  29. I got for us the couples ungame. It is designed to have a conversation. So with any luck or at least I can sip some wine while we play the game together and we might even learn something new about ourselves.

  30. We stopped doing Vday gifts and going out to dinner to celebrate a long time ago. Dinner always seemed to be a mess with finding a reservation at an odd time and fighting the crowds.

    This year we’re going to do some hiking with our dogs and have a coffee date somewhere. Nothing fancy for us, we’ll just spend the day together doing things we enjoy.

  31. Last year was mine and my girlfriend’s first Valentine’s Day together, and we celebrated by hiking together in the hills of the beautiful Central Coast of California. We went for what we thought was a 5 mile hike and turned out to be 11! It was so pretty out there, we weren’t even mad.

    I’m hoping we can celebrate this year in similar fashion, but perhaps with a little more of a picnic packed this time. Last year we only had a single apple to share between us for that whopper of a hike!

  32. Mrs. F. your little girl is so pretty …and always looks so cute in her pretty dresses…..
    Want to ask you, what # post has your Mom’s recipe in it ? I meant to copy it and forgot…..


  33. My husband and I enjoy cooking together, so we’ll make a more involved (and delicious!) dinner for special occasions. We’re doing ravioli for Valentine’s Day this year, I can’t wait! I love hearing others’ holiday traditions! My mom always made each kid a homemade card and the only time of year she made M&M cookies was Valentine’s Day (with the pink and red M&Ms), she still sends all of us a box of her cookies and a card every year.

  34. My husband makes my favorite ethnic meal, which takes some six hours to make and causes an incredible amount of dirty pans. (So if V Day is on a week day, we celebrate it the weekend before so he can cook all day) I make him petit fours, which he loves and I detest making because they are so fiddly so I only do it for Christmas and V.Day. He also gives me chocolates, usually my favorite which is a big old bag of peanut M&Ms—no fancy and expensive chocolates taste as good to me! If we celebrate the weekend after the official V. Day, he can get them for half price at Walgreens!

  35. Last year we went to a winery Mardi Gras. Got a Groupon for$15.00 for two (plus gas to drive to a lovely spot in the country!). It had music, jambalaya, King Cake, cornbread, the ability to taste 45 different sorts of wine, a cellar tour and tasting .They gave out Mardi Gras beads and a commemorative wine glass to all! It was not on the actual V.D. but I so didn’t care! I had a great time and took lots of photos. And, no I did not drink 45 different tastes of wine. I drank less than 10, which is about 2 glasses of wine.
    This year I shall celebrate VD with the cat, as my S.O. will be out of town. The cat just wants prosciutto ($2.99) and angel food cake ($1.50) (both from Aldi’s) and we shall share the goodies. Lily the cat LOVES prosciutto and angel cake. No yucky canned tuna for she!

  36. Growing up in Europe Valentine cards or gifts were sent anonymously to someone you secretly admire or received from someone who secretly admire you. Part of the fun was trying to guess who sent you the card or gift as clues may or may not be given. Of course if you had a partner you did the traditional stuff, flowers, candy, dinner etc. Cards/gifts were not given to just about everyone you know. Now the day passes with me barely noticing, must be getting old LOL

  37. My husband and I never really cared much for Valentine’s Day because we both share the same birthday on the eve of Valentines. That to us is more worth celebrating compared to Valentines Day. However since we have a toddler now, our birthdays are always spent with her and we will choose to go to the zoo or same other kids friendly venues – something which we can enjoy together as a family.

  38. We try to pick a new recipe to try at home for Valentines Day! My husband loves to cook – so I just hang out and enjoy our time together. We have a glass of wine – and I get him a bar of dark chocolate (he loves the 90% kind!) We’ll try to watch a movie or catch a neat nature show on PBS. That’s what we enjoy 🙂

  39. My husband and I never celebrated Valentine’s Day in the typical sense but, instead, tried to focus on loving gestures every day. However, when my children were born, I felt compelled to teach them the real story behind the holiday. So, we learned as much as we could about St. Valentine and now celebrate his feast day. We talk about what kind of person he was and the miracle which earned him his sainthood. I like to think of the saints as real-life super heroes and find so many of their stories (St. Valentine, especially) very inspiring. My boys are 4 and 5 and they seem to enjoy the stories we read and tell and the act of doing something loving for someone else inspired by St. Valentine. Just thought I’d add a different viewpoint. Thanks for all the great advice. Peace!

  40. Our son’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day (coming up on 4) so we are taking a sabbatical from celebrating. Usually try to squeeze in a lunch date the day before or after. Considerably cheaper and less crowded!

  41. Awe man! We pulled the bed in the living room to watch lord of the rings and I read that we are on frugalwoods!!!! So cool! My dh doesn’t think I’m as cool as you guys do!

  42. Our anniversary is on the 13th of February, total coincidence! 🙂 Since we already celebrate our anniversary, we mostly skip Valentine’s Day (super frugal!). Last year, we held a Brunch Battle: we competed in making brunch for one another. Lot’s of fun and not expensive at all.
    So much fun to read all of the different stories!

  43. Lots of great Valentine’s ideas here Mrs. Frugalwoods!

    Usually I made the missus a nice dinner for Valentine’s day. I pick out some special ingredients, things I know she’ll love, and try to make it a little nicer than normal. That’s usually about it for Valentine’s day.

    Call me an anti-romantic, but my own feeling is that we should appreciate each other *all the time*, not just one day a year.

  44. We’re another couple that doesn’t do anything for Valentine’s day. Inevitably, it means we do do something, because we avoid what everyone else is doing (if that makes sense?). Some years, especially when it’s has fallen on a weekend, we’ve done separate things and each spent time with a single friend instead.

    Holiday or not, there are always ways to make a day special without buying this produced for the sake of it. And I’m gonna be borrowing some of these ideas in future!

  45. I have loved reading your blog but unfortunately your posts are still truncated in my feedly reader (I asked months ago and was told it was a glitch when you guys were switching some things around) so I’m going to have to unsubscribe. It is hard to navigate when I am reading on my phone.

    1. Yep, it’s a glitch we’re still trying to fix. We don’t hire anyone to help us with the site and so we’re a very small operation consisting solely of me and Mr. FW. And so, unfortunately, this means we’re not always able to fix things as quickly as we might hope :)! But rest assured, it’s on our list 🙂

  46. My husband and I have chosen to pretty much chosen to ignore Valentine’s Day, which I am very happy about! I really dislike the pressure that these commercially-driven holidays can place on relationships. That said, my boys are older now, but when they were in elementary school, there were a lot of expectations around holidays, Valentine’s Day included. Any parents of school-aged kids who can speak to that, and have suggestions? I definitely found it frustrating, as a lower-income and decidedly non consumerist parent in within a wealthy public charter school.

  47. Spaghetti, cheap red wine, and the day after I get a box of chocolate and a mini rose bush I then plant in the yard. Hubs gets a kiss and he’s good. Ah, romance!

  48. Hi,

    My husband and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s day consistently, but as any excuse for attentions or to spend extra quality time together is good, here are our best frugal Valentine gift exchange:
    The best I received: When I came back from work, my husband had prepared me a bath, with bubbles, salt, candles and music, so I could relax while he was cooking a very nice meal (I am usually the one making dinner everyday, and it was very much appreciated).
    One I gave: A box of (homemade) coupons. For the entire year to come, because I love him everyday. Today: “a kiss”, “a dance”, “a back scratch”, “a compliment”, “a smile” …
    And some weekly ones to fit in our schedule, “a massage”, “a favorite meal”, “a walk”, …
    Nothing extravagant, but like I said, any excuse to spend quality time together…

  49. Our very first Valentine’s day together I made it very clear to my now husband that I really didn’t want any gifts. At work that day, he and his colleagues (in a very male-heavy industry) started talking about their plans. He told them we didn’t have plans and that I didn’t want anything. His coworkers all insisted it was a trap, and his boss went out during lunch and bought his wife a bouquet, and an extra for my now-husband to give to me! And that was the year I got a V-day gift from my husband’s boss.

    Nowadays, we like to make homemade pasta and enjoy a fire and a glass of wine. Delicious, cheap, and no waste!

  50. This had a few great ideas and I think I am going to do the love heart pizza cooking as we watch our favourite show. Family Dollar Woman will be two weeks out from giving birth to our next one so heading out for a meal or hike is not really going to happen this time around!

  51. Lots of love for these ideas! We, too, did little gifts our first holidays together, but eventually gave it up and are much happier! Mr. COD’s friends also tell him I must be lying or trapping him by saying I don’t want gifts. He knows I’m sincere, though, so he stays strong!

  52. After our kiddo was born, naturally we were not spending as much, ahem, alone time together as we had been before. Additionally, I went back to work at the beginning of Feb. We were both feeling the pinch of being new parents, not having that closeness, stress, etc. So I downloaded pictures of sex positions and made a little booklet! I gave it to him and said that when he was feeling the need for some time with me he could just leave one where I’d find it and we’d do that. It made him laugh and it actually did bring us closer together, not because we used so many of them but because he realized I was also affected by our lack of closeness and so we both worked harder on reconnecting with one another.
    He still has the booklet and occasionally I’m surprised by a card. So, even years later it’s providing some fun and something unusual to look forward to.

    *I am totally blushing that I’m admitting this to strangers on the internet, even anonymously.*

  53. My husband and I started dating in high school. Our first Valentine’s Day together involved making a homemade pizza and drinking sparkling apple cider. We have continued the tradition for 12 years, but have upgraded to wine. It’s one of our favorite [frugal] traditions!

  54. Last year, we celebrated valentine’s day by having my fiance cook me a homemade meal of all my favorite foods (he almost never cooks!). This year we are just relaxing at home and enjoying each other’s company and shopping for clearance Valentine’s Day candy on the 15th!

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