Are you ready for Valentine’s Day? As the day draws nearer, expectations start to grow. Do you and your significant other exchange gifts? Do you have reservations? What do you want to wear? How does this all impact your budget? Tucker and I are on a definite financial diet (we’re doing this thing called buying a house and it’s pretty expensive) and will not be exchanging gifts or doing anything over the top, but still want to have a special day! Throughout our time of hardcore money savings, we’ve had some pretty awesome dates that were almost if not actually free. Keep reading for some great ideas.
1. Make dinner together – we do this on most nights, but usually on Friday or Saturday night we’ll pick something a little special. I’ll find a recipe on Pinterest that’s a little more indulgent than our usual, or might require special ingredients. We’ll go grocery shopping together and cook and eat together, all for a little bit more than regular groceries. You can easily make an incredible meal for less than $15 total (and you would have had to eat dinner that night, anyway!). Some of our favorites have been cajun chicken pasta, dutch oven lasagna, and homemade pizza. Top the night off with a homemade dessert – like this individual portioned peanut butter chocolate chip mug cake.
Side note: when I’m too lazy to make my own pizza dough, I stop by Trader Joe’s to pick it up. They have fresh pizza dough (including whole wheat or a delicious garlic and herb flavor) for like $1.19. Incredible.
2. Play board games or cards – My boyfriend loves board games. We have three shelves on the book shelf dedicated to storing them. Playing a board game is a great way to connect and talk while challenging yourselves. Some of Tucker’s favorite two person games are Patchwork and Hive. I really like cooperative games (i.e. the two players are on the same team and work together… otherwise Tucker always wins haha), like Pandemic. We also play a good amount of cards together. A puzzle is a great option as well! Put on some music, open a bottle of wine, and play some games.
3. Ice Skating + Hot Cocoa – this is a pretty classic date, but it’s easy to do on the cheap! In most cities, there is a public ice arena that offers ice time for a minimal entry fee. In many cold-weather climate cities, many public parks have free ice skating rinks in the winter as well, and rentals are usually $5 or less. If you’re in the Minneapolis area, I highly recommend Centennial Lakes in Edina. The area is very well kept and beautiful, ice time is free, and rentals are available as well. Enjoy a little exercise, hold onto each other to stay up, and then head home for some homemade hot cocoa (yes, Swiss Miss counts as ‘homemade’ haha). Snuggle to stay warm!
4. Find a Museum – This makes a great day date. Many museums have free entry days once a month or more often, or offer discounted tickets to young people. Search for your city to find a museum in your area, and enjoy the day there! If you’re in Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Institute of Art is free except for the special exhibitions. In the same vein, many local theatres offer discounted tickets to young people; the Guthrie in Minneapolis has an “under 30” club for tickets deeply discounted. Search your city; you’ll be surprised what you find!
5. Get crafty! Tucker and I do this ever so often – head into Michael’s or your local craft store and find something to make! For less than $20 you’d be surprised what you can find. Paint wine glasses or coffee mugs, learn to knit, buy a canvas and paint something for your home. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even build furniture! Tucker and I spent a summer weekend last year building a new headboard – for less than $100 we ended up with a gorgeous wooden headboard complete with light fixtures. It was a fun something to do, and we ended up with something great!
6. Get active! This is one of the best things to do together, in my mind. Go for a hike, run together outside, or even just take a nice long walk together. This is a great time to talk and be together, while getting your blood pumping. Even something like a group fitness class together can be a great and cheap date option. Great day to me: hike at a nearby state park for a couple hours, then come home and cook a healthy and delicious meal together to fuel up for a marathon of board games. Eh?
Last thing I want to talk about is the fact that, even if you are going out on a fancy date night, you can certainly find something new and exciting to wear without spending ANY money. I put together this Valentine’s Day outfit with things I already had in my closet by reusing old items in a new way. The magenta “skirt” you’re seeing is actually a summer dress that I put a plain grey long sleeve shirt over and knotted. Paired with a pair of fun colored tights, earrings and some heels, I’m ready to go! You’d be surprised what you can do with layering and rethinking what you already have.
Happy Valentine’s Day!