Valentine's Day on the Cheap

  • Valentine’s Day on the Cheap

    Valentine’s Day sits crouched, lying in wait not so very far away. And if you’re like most people, you don’t have the extra cash sitting around this year to splurge on your sweetheart. So here at MainStreet, we’ve compiled a list of the best ways to spoil your significant other while stretching that dollar to its fullest potential. Photo Credit: cmpalmer
    Instead of a Bouquet...
  • Instead of a Bouquet...

    Instead of buying fake flowers or carnations to stick to a budget, spend a few dollars on a pack of balloons. Put a small love note or trinket in each before blowing it up and put together an interactive bouquet that lets your loved one pop his or her way through the gift. No dead flowers to clean up in a month, simply a handful of tiny reminders of an even more creative gift. For other slick moves like this one that allow you to be frugal without appearing to do so, check out our slideshow here. Photo Credit: quinn.anya
    A Substitute for Chocolate?
  • A Substitute for Chocolate?

    If you can boil water, you can make your own chocolate-dipped anything. Bring water to a bowl in a large pot with a glass bowl floating on top. Put in any type of melting chocolate you prefer, including any flavor of chocolate chips until they are melted smoothly together and dip any of your favorites like strawberries, cheesecake bites or bananas. Put the chocolate-coated goodies on a piece of wax paper and in the fridge to chill until it’s time to eat. Photo Credit: The Lightworks
    Make the Thought Count
  • Make the Thought Count

    Is your girlfriend unnaturally obsessed with Twilight? Does your boyfriend play a video game that you absolutely can’t stand? For Valentine’s Day, engage in the habit you hate the most. Rent the movie and sit through it with her; let him play the game as loud as he wants for an entire hour. Make it a day to accept everything about him or her, including the things you detest. But whatever you do, heed our advice on this list of the worst Valentine’s gifts ever. Photo Credit: RebeccaPollard
    Say I Love You with IOUs
  • Say I Love You with IOUs

    Instead of buying one of those lovers’ coupon books filled with various predetermined personal favors, make one. You know your partner better than any corporation, so give them a handmade stack of IOUs for anything from doing the dishes to taking the dog out for a walk on a rainy day to something a bit more risqué. Giving him or her an empty jar with 10 blank pieces of paper for them to make their own wishes works too. Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack
    Bring the Spa Home
  • Bring the Spa Home

    Instead of paying someone else to rub down your loved one, create an at-home spa and do it yourself. Scented candles, dim lighting and freshly washed, warm towels and sheets will set the mood for you to take turns giving full-hour full-body massages. Get more adventurous with home facial or manicure kits. Or, if like Monica from Friends, you’ve been banned from massaging anyone, get the cheapest spa treatments with these three easy tips. Photo Credit: thomaswanhoff
    High-Tech Scrapbook
  • High-Tech Scrapbook

    For the time- and creativity-challenged who are incapable of scrapbooking, a plethora of photo-sharing Web sites will put together a professional-looking photo book starting at $10. Mac users can do it in iPhoto, while PC people can head to Shutterfly, Snapfish or MyPublisher. Photo Credit: Alanna George
    Cheese It Up
  • Cheese It Up

    It’s campy, it’s silly and as much as you’d like to deny it — it’s adorable. Pull out the red construction paper and scissors for a creative, handmade card that might be met with an eye roll, but will definitely induce a smile. If you can’t bring yourself to take it that far, opt for a thoughtful, handwritten letter that has even more meaning in today’s world of electronic communication. Photo Credit: -Snugg-
    Mix It Up
  • Mix It Up

    For years, romantics spilled their hearts out to the object of their affection via the time-honored tradition of the mix tape. But, it’s 2010 and your better half likely wouldn’t have a way to play it even if you made one. Instead, snag his or her iPod secretly and put on a playlist filled with favorites reminiscent of the two of you. But don’t worry; John Cusack’s rules for getting the music right still apply, as long as you banish the shuffle button. Photo Credit: aan00b.xfire
    Cooking in
  • Cooking in

    For many, cooking is a daunting task, so stick with what you know and keep it easy. And if you don’t know your way around a kitchen, focus on ambiance; candles, wine and pre-folded napkins could make pizza romantic. Simple staples like poached salmon, grilled lamb chops or chicken parmesan make for stress-free preparation and an impressed date. Click here for a Mainstreet.com video on even more great cheap date ideas. Photo Credit: iLoveButter
    An Even Cheaper Menu
  • An Even Cheaper Menu

    Since the protein will inevitably be the most expensive thing on the plate, opt for a vegetable-based meal for huge savings. Stuffed peppers or grilled eggplant steaks mean more money for a bottle of wine or a fancy side like potato gratin with leeks and good Vermont cheddar cheese. Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks
    Make It a Double Feature
  • Make It a Double Feature

    After a delicious, in-home dinner, move the evening’s festivities to the living room for a movie. Rent an obnoxiously romantic movie, splurge on some fancy popcorn and enjoy a glass of wine from the best seat in the house. Make sure to dim all the lights, turn off the phones and lock the front door for a true, uninterrupted theater experience. But if you’re really looking for a night out on the town, look to this Mainstreet.com slideshow on our frugal favorites. Photo Credit: jessica.diamond
    Create Something
  • Create Something

    While you and your partner may not have a pottery wheel handy for a steamy moment à la Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore in Ghost, you can create an equally romantic scene with a couple of blank canvases and a smattering of paints. Work together on one, or separately on pieces for each other using paintbrushes or squirt guns. The messy adventure will make a lifelong memory, complete with souvenirs. Photo Credit: alancleaver_2000
    Long-Distance Love
  • Long-Distance Love

    If you can’t afford to be with your long-distance boyfriend or girlfriend on Feb. 14, make an e-date. Charge up your laptop and spend a few hours together using Skype, video Gchat or any other videophone system. Make the same recipe, set the dining room table the same way and buy the same bottle of wine to feel closer to your partner. Photo Credit: elninosincero
    Staycations
  • Staycations

    While you’d love to whisk your love away to some exotic destination, just getting out of the house would be a vacation in itself. Pick an affordable local bed and breakfast to spend the night enjoying total freedom from dishes and stress. Photo Credit: WordRidden
    Purposeful procrastination
  • Purposeful procrastination

    Move Valentine’s Day back one week. Enjoy the massive sales on all heart-related products and gifts for an equally meaningful day together at a fraction of the cost. Also, get an easy reservation at a restaurant without a pricey pre-set menu and avoid peak rates for hotels. Photo Credit: Marta Crowe
    Tweet alongside us
  • Tweet alongside us

    Wait! If you haven't already, now is a great time to follow us on Twitter. You'll get all of our most important stories, right as they publish. Follow us: twitter.com/mainstr Photo Credit: Mixy
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