Valentine’s Day on a Budget

In case you haven’t heard, the economy’s in the tank. House prices are plunging, companies are faltering, and jobs are disappearing. Anyone with a personal savings account, a share in the stock market, a 401K, or even a wallet at this point is sweating like a lady of the evening in church.

Something else we probably all have in common with that aforementioned lady? The need for a little extra loving. Whether it’s a comforting hug, a caress of the shoulder, a peck on the cheek, or something a little more adventurous and in-depth, love should be about the only thing not in shortage at a time like this. And lucky for us, that shouldn’t be a problem, with Valentine’s Day right around the corner.

However, like seemingly every other sector of the economy at the moment, Valentine’s Day surely will face an uphill battle when it comes to driving consumer dollars. So, if you’re one of those consumers worried about spending too much at a time when there’s so little to go around, don’t fret: Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be discarded. Instead of allowing your bank account to dip into the red, be creative about showing your loved one just how much you care, and the only red you’ll be seeing this Valentine’s Day will be the red hearts on the new pair of boxer briefs or lingerie you bought for the night.

To begin, start with the basics. If you’re planning to stay in, which can be far more romantic than going to dinner surrounded by countless others, setting the mood doesn’t have to break the bank. Buy some red, white, or pink balloons, and spread them throughout the house, or in the room where you’re planning your romantic getaway.

To enhance the appeal of those shiny luft balloons even more, write cute notes in each one, so your partner can read them throughout the night. And if your partner is one always to be asking why you love him or her, or if you want to be with him or her, take this opportunity to quell his or her fears, and write those reasons on the notes. It not only will make him or her smile profusely at that moment, but also in the (let’s hope) many days to come throughout your relationship, he or she will have handwritten proof of your declarations of love, and can think of them if times get tough.

If you don’t feel or think pure love notes will be enough to satisfy yourself or your partner, buying a gift is an obvious solution. While nothing may trump a store-purchased item for some V-Day lovers, a homemade, or carefully thought out, gift often will go much further in the eyes of your loved one.

Make a CD of your beloved’s favorite songs, romantic or otherwise—or, better yet, compile a list of songs that make you think of your loved one, and put them on a CD. Of course, if one of those songs is “Hate Everything About You,” by Ugly Kid Joe—with gem lyrics like “And i, get sick when I’m around/i, can’t stand to be around/I, hate everything about you!”—you may want to rethink the idea. But for most, giving your partner an inside indication you think about him or her often is a great way to spark the romantic flares that evening.

If one romantic evening together simply isn’t enough, why not utilize a little holiday jingle, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and put it to good use this Valentine’s? Leave a note, mentioning the first day of Valentine’s to clue your partner in, along with a single romantic item of your choosing, and leave it out for him or her to find. Your loved one not only will be surprised on the first day he or she unexpectedly receives a gift, but also will be excited for the next week-and-a-half anticipating what’s to come.

The more creativity you use, and the more thought you put into the day (or series of days, if you take my advice), the better the outcome. A diamond may be forever, but (as long as you’re not with someone who takes Madonna’s “Material Girl” to heart), nothing about store-bought jewelry says, “I deeply care about and love you,” like a carefully thought-out Valentine.

If you think Valentine’s Day is a waste of time, well, that either means you’re bitter about not having a significant other, or you’ve bought into the Valentine’s Day commercial hype. Yes, the romantic day very well may be overly commercialized, and yes, card makers may have invented the day for commercial gain, but that doesn’t excuse you from ignoring the holiday, even if your partner says it’s no big deal.

So, suck it up—I don’t mean literally—and wow your loved one with an amazing Valentine’s Day done right, done well, and done on a budget.

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