Valentine's Day brings high expectations for love and romance. But every year, you do the same old thing: a card, a dozen roses and dinner. In 2011, the roses alone set you back $76 on average, according to the Society of American Florists. Although you may not be able to break with tradition on the roses, consider more romantic --- and cheaper --- ideas than dinner. Your sweetheart will love you for your creativity and thriftiness.
Under the Pillow
Buy a gaudy or comical piece of costume or toy jewelry. A large mood ring or child's dress-up necklace would work. Put it in a fancy jewelry box --- the fancier, the better. Wrap the box and put a ribbon on it. Make a homemade Valentine card. Be creative with your ideas, using whatever you find around the house. For example, cut a heart shape from a cereal box. Paste a colored square of paper on it to write your love message. Decorate it with macaroni or buttons. Use glitter if you have it. Place your cheap, but lovely, Valentine gifts under your sweetheart's pillow for Valentine's morning.
This is the favorite dinner idea with a twist. Prepare your sweetheart's fondly remembered dinner from childhood. Make sure it is something cheap that only a child could love. Think macaroni and cheese in a box, spaghetti from a can, bologna sandwiches or breakfast-for-dinner. If you don't know, ask a parent. Serve dinner on TV trays with a favorite childhood movie or cartoon in the video player. Make dessert a little more grown-up, if you like.
Valentine's Price List
Purchase a packet of play money. Try the toy aisle at the dollar store for the best price. Put the money in a toy purse or wallet. Create a Valentine's price list. Title it "Valentine's Day Special" at the top. List the items for sale and a corresponding price. Make sure you have enough play money to purchase everything on the list. The ideas can include, for example, a back massage for $3, sack lunch for $1, or homemade dessert for $2. Use your imagination. The items for sale can as special as you'd like them to be. At the bottom of the list, include an expiration date: "Prices good through February 28, 2012."
Warm-up Breakfast Special
If you live in a cold climate and your sweetheart rushes to work each morning without a thought to breakfast, start his morning off right. On Valentine's Day, get up extra early. Scrape your Valentine's windshield and drive to the nearest fast food or another cheap restaurant. Buy breakfast to go. Swing by the coffee shop for a large gourmet coffee drink or hot chocolate. Back home, turn the oven on 150 degrees and place the goodies inside to keep them warm. As your love makes the usual last minute sprint for the door, hand over breakfast for the drive to work in a preheated car. If you have time, play chauffeur for extra romance points.