With Christmas officially over, retail stores have begun decorating for Valentine’s Day (here, at least). Valentine’s Day evokes two strong reactions in me: I can’t wait and I just want to hide because we have no money.
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I love Valentine’s Day because the hubs generally puts forth at least a minimal effort and gets me a sappy card. I’m completely OK with that. It required forethought, time, and effort on his part to make that gesture (which I have to admit I’m not the best at reciprocating on).
Part of me wants to hide because we never have money to spend on Valentine’s Day. Ever. Read The Worst Valentine’s Day Gift. So, I watch commercial after commercial, hear the radio ads, see the Facebook ads, and know that I can’t afford the fancy dinner, the hotel, the jewellery, the grand gesture — any of it. Boo.
With three kids, a mountain of student debt, a single income, no family nearby, and sometimes not even a working vehicle — we’ve learned to get really creative with Valentine’s Day. It’s easy to get caught up in the fuss and flower-buying-expensive-dinner-money-spending occasion it’s become. Just because you don’t have money to go out (or the money to go out AND the money to pay a sitter) doesn’t mean you can’t have a fabulous evening at home. There’s real value in the simple things.
Here’s a top 10 list of my favorite Valentine’s Day celebrations on the cheap:
1) Instead of the expensive bouquet of flowers, buy a flowering plant. This time of year you can buy Hyacinths, Daffodils, Tulips already flowering. They’re cheaper, last longer than cut flowers, and you can plant it outside and continue to enjoy it.
2) Wait til the kiddos are in bed and cook some fresh pasta and fancy sauce the kids won’t eat. Crack open a cheap bottle of sparkling apple cider and have a candlelit dinner.
3) Have sex. But, make it special – do something to make
it *ahem* the evening stand out. Light some candles in the bedroom, put on some nice music, take a shower/bath together. If you have $10-15 to spare, buy some scented massage oil and offer a massage…use your imagination.
4) Go for a walk. There’s something romantic about walking mitten in glove in several layers at night. The city in winter is almost silent at night. The snow crunches under your boots, your cheeks turn pink (a healthy pink that makes everyone look good), and you can see your breath. There’s a lot to be said for silent togetherness. The Northern Lights come out on the coldest of nights offering a romantic glow. And hey – the effort to warm up might lead to #3
5) Put on a romantic movie, cuddle up under a blanket (clothing optional) and just spend time together. **Warning: this has invariably led to #3.
6) Play a board/card game by candlelight. This can actually be more challenging than it seems and should involve lots of humor. Pretend the hydro is out and spend the evening in the dark. **Warning: this can lead to #3 if neither party has been horribly defeated.
7) Make a playlist of slow songs, turn out the lights and dance the night away. You can talk quietly as you dance. **Warning: this has often led to #3
8) Send the kiddos to Grandma’s house. Nuff said. I’ve never been able to do this, but the idea is sound. **If this doesn’t lead to #3 you need more help than I can offer with this blog post.
9) For the guys: Offer to tidy the kitchen and put the kids in bed while your wife takes a long bath, or has a nap, or reads a book. Pair this with #6 or #7…and if you’re lucky #3 will then become her idea. (C’mon – that one’s win win)
10) Order in Chinese food to arrive after the kids are in bed (because you can’t afford to buy enough food for them too) and on every fortune cookie fortune add the phrase “in bed” to the end. You’ll both be laughing. **Don’t forget #3
Those are my top 10 ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. What’s the best Valentine’s Day celebration on the cheap you’ve had?
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