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Feb 102016
 February 10, 2016  Posted by  Valentine's Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day, that one day of the year that you spend, spend and spend on little tokens of love for your sweetie. You probably BUY a card, BUY candy, BUY flowers, BUY dinner, etc. See the running theme here … it can get pretty costly, but it doesn’t have to. Just because it is one of the most commercial holidays of the year, you can still show your love and appreciation for your partner at little to no cost, and more often than just one day a year. Here are 14 fun and creative ideas that won’t break the bank, but still show you care:

  1. First and foremost, if you’re married with kids, babysitting tends to be a luxury … so why not tuck the kiddos into bed and then have an at-home date night? Some fun ideas include a movie marathon, complete with fresh popped popcorn and some homemade smoothies or setup your laptop or tablet, click on your favorite music site such as Pandora for a fun night of karaoke. Trust me, pick a station that you both enjoy and it will provide hours of laughter and is quite the bonding experience.
  2. Head on over to your local bookstore and spend some time exploring. Best part about this one is that it is totally F-R-E-E!
  3. Cooking together is always a fun idea and less expensive than going out to dinner. Plus you avoid all the crowds and lack of reservations available around Valentine’s Day. Pick a theme and go with it. Feel like going to Paris for the evening? Well then grab a baguette, some sparkling wine and a few cheeses for a tasting. How about Italy? Easy. You just need some pasta, a bottle of Chianti and a yummy tiramisu.
  4. What’s more romantic than stargazing with your loved one? Head to a local park or even your backyard with a blanket, download the free Star Chart app on your smartphone for an easy map of constellations, and pack your favorite beverage. Make sure there aren’t any lights nearby to make it easier to see the stars.
  5. Who says date nights have to take place at night? Go on a nature walk, create a scavenger hunt for items to find, pick some flowers along the way and end with a romantic picnic.
  6. Find a local winery or wine shop for a tasting or go on a free winery tour. These might have free snacks and local music, if you’re lucky.
  7. Find a local volunteer opportunity or service project in your area and serve together. You’ll spend quality time together while helping out the community all at no cost except for your time.
  8. Are you musically inclined? Write a song together. How awesome is that?
  9. Keep an eye out on your local deal sites such as Groupon or Living Social for discounts to Paint your Own Pottery or Canvas outings. You can typically save up to 50% off per person.
  10. Still want to go out to eat? Have a progressive date night. Choose a few different restaurants around town and start out with drinks at one place, then head over to another for appetizers, try out a new place for the main meal, and finish up at your local bakery or ice cream parlor for dessert. The best part about this is that you don’t spend as much money if you’re there for a specific item, and you can sit at the bar for most of these, so it’s more laid back.
  11. Want to see that musical or play but the price is too steep? Call around to see if your local theater sells tickets for dress rehearsals. You pay less than the actual ticket cost and get the same experience. Or, see if you can find a discounted ticket from Goldstar or ScoreBig.
  12. Build something together. Order in pizza and open up that DIY Pinterest inspiration board you have been filling with ideas. Pick your favorite and get started.
  13. Into fitness? Get a free day pass to a gym whose membership may be a bit out of your budget and spend some time with your sweetie getting physical. Challenge each other to a fitness competition, take some classes, and then take advantage of the gym’s sauna or pool, if it has one.
  14. Be a tourist in your own city. Go online and print out a travel guide, set your sights on a few locations, create an itinerary and play tourist. Make sure to take pictures along the way.

Lisa Hiracheta

Lisa Hiracheta, a resident of Central Florida for more than 25 years, has always been thrifty. Lucky for us, her love of saving and finding great deals hasn't gone away. She recently became a stay at home mom and has really honed in on her ability to find free or cheap things to do with her kids and family in the Orlando area and she is ready to share. Lisa graduated with a degree in Advertising/Public Relations from the University of Central Florida. She previously held marketing positions at one of the largest theme parks in Orlando and a local advertising agency for almost 15 years, focusing on the travel and tourism industry. Lisa is co-editor of Orlando on the Cheap.

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