Cheap Valentine’s Day Ideas for Kids and Adults

Valentine’s Day can quickly become an expensive and wasteful holiday. The kids need to take boxed valentines to school. The spouse needs to have something memorable and sensual. You want to give a little something to those special people in your life–parents, grandparents, administrative assistants and your children. How to do it all with panache and without breaking the bank or creating more waste?

Alternatives for Valentines Day for Children

My kids needed two boxes of those silly valentines to give to all their teachers and classmates. With a couple of kids, this adds up fast. Don’t do it! Get out the paintbox and some white paper instead. Let the kids paint swirly designs on the paper and cut out heart shapes. (You can make a template from heavier paper for them to trace). Glue on an inexpensive conversation heart candy with non-toxic glue. Fold the heart in half to put into the valentine’s boxes or bags at school. If your child is old enough, have them write a simple sentiment: “I like you!” or “Happy Valentine’s Day.” Children who enjoy crafts can cut out pictures from magazines to use to decorate. Pretty, simple, and edible, and much cheaper than the boxed valentines festooned with cartoon characters. There is no trip to the store and no valentine box to discard.

What about your gift to your children? Break out the red food coloring and let your kids know they are special! Douse their cereal with pink milk in the morning. Give them pink pudding for dessert at night. Tuck a heart-shaped note in their lunch box or backpack. Make them heart-shaped cookies, or sandwiches. Make sure they get an extra hug or two. Kids don’t need store-bought valentines, they need to feel special. You don’t need an extra expense.

Alternatives to Dinner Out and a Movie or Expensive Chocolate

The key to making a special evening without blowing the budget is to make a regular evening more fancy. Put the kids to bed early or send them to a relatives for the night. Then boil some regular pasta, but jazz up the jarred sauce. If you usually eat marinara, try adding some boiled shrimp to it. If you like Alfredo, top it with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Include a side salad or steamed vegetable gussied up with a sprinkle of Parmesan or slivered nuts. If you like bread with your meal, mix some dried herbs or honey in the butter or margarine.

Serve with a pretty red wine or sparkling grape juice. Some grocery store reds from Australia are inexpensive and quite drinkable, such as Little Penguin or Yellow Tail. Or reduce your carbon foot-print and try a local red. Boxed chocolates can be expensive, but putting some red food coloring into a white mousse is pretty or just top with a few red berries. Of course, regular chocolate mousse would be sensually silken too. Use your nicest dishes and light some candles.

Don’t buy a dozen roses. Buy one or two red or pink carnations. Pull them apart. Decorate the table with the petals. If you are inclined, make a trail leading to the bedroom (or room of your choice). Spritz some cologne in the air and on the bed. Put in a CD of slow jazz. Voila! You’ve set the mood with all the senses aroused–taste, smell, sight, touch, and hearing.

Cheap Gifts that Say “I appreciate you” for Others

Nothing says “you are special” like home-baked goods. Make over sized home-made chocolate chip cookies and wrap them in pink colored plastic wrap, or use red curling ribbon. An inexpensive heart sticker can adorn the wrapping too, and help keep the cookie fresh. One simple heart shaped Mylar balloon placed at a reception desk so that everyone can enjoy it and feel appreciated is inexpensive and inclusive. People want to feel appreciated. People don’t want to squirm because you’ve spent too much money.

You can decorate a common area with pink hearts cut from construction paper. Put something special each co-worker did on a heart with their name. “Joanne–made extra copies when we were in a bind.” “Kyle manned the phones over lunch.” The cost is minimal. The appreciation will be palpable.

Spend a little time, and very little money this Valentine’s Day. It really is the thought that counts!

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