It’s almost the most romantic day of the year again – although the cost of the average Valentine’s Day can be a sticking point. Roses suddenly double in price, if you want to book a restaurant then get ready to pay a hefty fee for a set menu, and if you’re thinking about splashing out on artisan chocolates then anything in a heart shaped box is likely to cost you at least twice the price of something less romantically wrapped. This cynical profiteering is particularly hard to take when it comes to something like love – if you don’t go for the whole ‘flowers and dinner’ package then the implication is that you just don’t love that person enough…isn’t it?
The cost burden of Valentine’s Day has traditionally fallen on men although a more egalitarian approach in recent years has turned the day into a gift giving event of epic proportions. Forget the single rose that might have sufficed in years gone by, these days apparently how much you spend is the only indicator of how much you love. So, is it possible to still celebrate a romantic Valentine’s Day that won’t leave you in the doghouse, without breaking the bank?
Books – there’s something classy about giving a book to someone you love, especially one of the romantic variety. Despite the fact that you can pick up a classic such as Pride & Prejudice or The Notebook for under a tenner, books demonstrate thoughtfulness in a way that a generic bunch of petrol station roses never can. Inscribe it with a message of love and you’re on to a (very low cost) winner.
A home made bouquet – roses might be the traditional flower of choice on V-day but who wants to be like everyone else? There are tons of daffodils around at the moment and at £1 a bunch you could create an enormous, oversize bouquet for around £10. Alternatively, buy a selection of ‘cheaper’ flowers such as carnations, chrysanthemums and gerberas and make a colorful bouquet – add greenery, such as ferns, and tie with a giant ribbon and you’ll leave the shop-bought flowers firmly in the shade.
Actions speak louder than words – if you don’t want to drain your resources on overpriced Valentines Day gifts then do something special instead. Surprises work well as far as the romance factor goes, from breakfast in bed to giving someone a day off from something they think of as a chore. A setting of great natural beauty is fantastic for whispering sweet nothings at this time of year so take your other half for a dramatic coastal walk, such as the South West Coast Path, a wander through a forest (the Bluebell Woods at Kew are beautiful, with or without the carpet of flowers) or climb high up London’s Primrose Hill to witness stunning urban landscapes. You might even feel inspired enough to pop the question…
Have a movie night – everyone knows that the most romantic movies are those from days gone by. Luckily that means they’re available with your Netflix (or other streaming service) monthly subscription. Fill the room with candles, turn the lights down, get the popcorn out and indulge in all the most romantic films, whether your idea of romance is Dirty Dancing, Sleepless in Seattle, Brief Encounter, Titanic, Gone With The Wind or Edward Scissorhands.
Celebrate another day – rather than being one of the many couples forced to eat those Valentine’s set menus, decide to celebrate your Valentine’s Day on another date instead. Perhaps the 15th February can be your special day, or even a week later. You’ll be able to splash out on everything from roses to champagne and dinner for ‘normal’ prices and you’ll have a day that only the two of you celebrate, which will make it feel even more special.
Write – the art of writing is something that most of us completely pass by in the age of smart phones and laptops, texting and constant communication. This means that we hardly ever receive a hand written letter and love letters in particular have been left behind, replaced by selfies and emojis. Bring back the lost skill of writing and compose a love letter for your other half this Valentine’s Day – choose the paper, write in ink and, if you’re feeling really creative, you could even include a few lines of poetry.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley