We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at our house other than some heart-shaped cinnamon rolls or sandwiches. We give each other romantic gifts and gestures throughout the year, not limiting the wooing to one day. However, we live on a tight budget. Husband is a teacher and we have 3 kids, so we are always looking for ways to save money. Here are some of my tips for inexpensive Valentine’s Day (or just romantic wooing) gift and date tips:
#1 A Romantic Playlist – This is the “mixed tape” of the digital age. Create a playlist for your spouse called “The Story of Us” and fill it with songs that remind you of your love. Songs from when you dated, got engaged, from your wedding…Songs that speak to how you feel about your spouse. Most of these you probably already own on CD or in your digital music library. Just make the playlist and “sneak” it onto his iPod or other MP3 player. If your car only has a CD player, burn the playlist to a CD and set it so that it is playing the next time he gets in to go someplace. We have a list of songs that span almost 20 years of shared experiences – songs that remind us of important events in our lives or that speak of the kind of love we want to sustain.
#2. Wishes – Decorate a recycled glass jar or aluminum can. On slips of paper, write out “wishes” that your spouse has. Wash his car, cook his favorite dinner, a romantic surprise (use your imagination here and get specific!), a golf day, a chance to purchase a new video game or gadget, a night of TV of his choice. Be creative and include as many “free” items as possible. Put the slips in the jar – enough for one a day or one a week or one a month, depending on the “level” of wishes you include. He can pick a wish at the assigned time.
#3. Notes – Don’t underestimate the power of a note. For a week leading up to Valentine’s day leave romantic or suggestive notes for your spouse to find. Mail a letter to him at work telling him how you respect him and how you appreciate his working to provide for the family. For the actual day, write a letter expressing your love for your husband. Follow the example of Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) and offer appreciation for his physical attributes as well as a discussion your love. If you are really bold, read the letter out loud to him when you are alone. It will be worth your effort!
#4. Text – Send a romantic message or picture to your husband. It is okay! You are married
#1. Don’t Go Out On The Actual Day! – On Feb. 14th restaurants are overbooked, movie theaters are over-crowded, and the special Valentine’s “deals” cost more that actual menu items. Plus it can be hard to find a babysitter on the 14th and some charge a premium price for that day. Skip the 14th and have a family night. Celebrate on the 12th or 16th. Adjusting by a couple of days can get you deals at restaurants (because they know they will be empty on those days so many offer discounts) and at other venues.
#2. Take Out – If you must celebrate on the 14th, try take-out. You save the money for tips and drinks and miss some of the crowds. Call in a take-out order for after the kids are in bed and have a romantic candlelight dinner at home in the quiet.
#3. Babysitting – At this time of year many churches offer drop-in nights as youth or missions fund-raisers. You can leave your kids for a few hours of fun for a donation to the cause. Even less expensive, trade babysitting with another couple. If you are really adventurous, trade kids for a whole overnight sleepover, giving both couples a completely kid-free night.