Frugal Valentines Day

Cost-Conscious Cupid

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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There's nothing much romantic about overspending for Valentine's Day. Staying within budget and wooing your sweetie can go hand in hand as much as you two. Here are a few ideas that cost less than $10 apiece.

"The pen is mightier than the sword," Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote. And speaking of great writers, why not borrow from their works to charm your beloved? (Give credit, though.) Try Shakespeare, Robert Browning, and the Bible's Song of Solomon, to name a few.

If you're up to the challenge, pen your own feelings. They don't need to rhyme. Just write out a poem neatly on a sheet of very nice stationery (many card shops carry this). Don't forget to buy the matching envelope. Make it special by scenting it with your favorite fragrance and tie around it a silk ribbon dangling a small heart charm (check the notions section at craft stores or Wal-Mart). Present it at a quiet moment.

Flowers are pricey via delivery companies. Many grocery stores, even discount ones such as Aldi, offer terrific bouquets and stock up before the big day. Call ahead to reserve a bouquet to be sure. Deliver them yourself to your honey. If you really want to wow the coworkers, arrive at your beloved's workplace in formalwear to drop off the posies.

Balloons are the non-flower bouquet. You can "pick" a nice mixed bunch of Mylar and latex helium balloons at many dollar stores for very little. Write little notes of sweet nothings to tuck inside the balloons before the clerk ties them off.

Favorite things in abundance show that you pay attention and that's the real gift. Scour the dollar store for numerous things in your honey's favorite color or flavor, such as all orange things or all spicy foods. Or, pick up dissimilar things that represent what he or she enjoys the most. Perhaps your lady likes lavender soap, crossword puzzles, vanilla candles, cordial cherries, and cocoa. Although unlike each other, they can all be tucked in a basket as a present because she likes them all. So keep track of what your sweetie likes! Cushion the items with red and/or white tissue paper.

Memory lane lets lovers revisit happy times. Burn a CD of "your" songs or buy the DVD of a much-loved movie you both shared (check eBay and Amazon online) and enjoy them together.

Romantic thoughts enchant both guys and gals. Write them down all year round in a nice-looking blank journal from a dollar store. Try to fill up the book. Your words need not be flowery. Just something such as "The way you looked tonight to go out made my heart pound" and list the date. Use quotations from poetry, too.

Cards are much less expensive at dollar stores. Sometimes blank notes from any store are cheaper than ones with verses and they permit you to express yourself, too. Or, release your inner child and craft one with paper doilies, red construction paper, stickers, and glitter.

Able to spend a little more? Here are a few more ideas:

Cook up a romantic evening in the kitchen. Perhaps an unattached friend or relative could sit the kids (you'll owe a big favor!). Obviously, fix your Valentine's favorite dishes, but also keep in mind that you don't want to make something too fussy and distracting. Make-ahead dishes work well.

Instead of splurging for caviar, use candles, a table cloth, the nice dishes, and any other touches to make it special. Served in smaller amounts, pricey foods go farther. Divide a package of king crab legs, for instance, with a friend who has similar plans. Crab legs, lobster tail or shrimp can be paired with small steaks. Buy a cheaper cut, pound it with a meat mallet and marinade overnight to make it tender.

Chocolate evokes a romantic mood. Don't scrimp on poor-quality chocolate. Buying a better-quality chocolate in a smaller amount or as chocolate-coated items will make your money go farther. Pair it up with another small gift.

Similes are literary devices that use the words "like" or "as" to make a comparison. Package into a colorful container a few items your beloved likes and label them. Try "Sweeter than..." on a jar of honey, for example.

Jewelry doesn't have to be jaw-dropping expensive to mean a lot. To make it significant, link it to an enjoyable moment from your past. The seashell necklace can remind her of the weekend you spent at the great beach house. The horse head cufflinks will bring back riding along the shore on your honeymoon. Enclose a note about why you selected the jewelry.

Expressing yourself can be hard to do. Why not let a pro handle it? Poets often auction off their services on eBay to pen rhymes tailored to your sweetheart.

No matter what ideas you try, give from the heart and enjoy one very special day with the one you love best.

Take the Next Step

  • For more great Valentine's Day ideas, click here
  • Get your sweetheart's senses going! Make a list of their favorite tastes, smells, sights and sounds.
  • Use your imagination and have fun with it!
  • Still need help? Here are some helpful tips from our readers. Be My Valentine

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