WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Frugal Valentine's Day: Loving for less!

Posted February 9, 2015
Updated February 12, 2015


Here's my frugal ode to Valentine's Day: Roses are red, violets are blue, retailers want lots of money from you!

Here are some Valentine's Day ideas to keep more of that hard-earned money in your wallet and less in the store register!


It’s all about the roses this time of year. The good news is that for less than $20, you can score a dozen roses this year including:

Walmart: 1 dozen roses for $15.97

Target: 1 dozen roses for $16,99 starting Thursday, 2/12

Walgreens and Rite Aid: 1 dozen roses for $19.99 at select locations

Dollar General: 1 single rose for $2.00

Mixed bouquets as low as $4 at the grocery stores

I'll have more rose deals posted on Wednesday from the grocery stores.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to buy roses. There are some gorgeous mixed flower bouquets available at grocery stores for $10 or less. Since many of us have cabinets full of vases, you won’t have to spring for that as well.

If you would rather give a more lasting floral gift, give a plant that will grow flowers year after year, like arose bush.

Instead of flowers, you could give your sweetie (or your kids) a "bouquet" of helium heart balloons. They are only $1 per balloon at The Dollar Tree!


Most frugal option: Eat at home! You can make a fabulous steak dinner for a fraction of the cost of most restaurant meals on Valentine’s Day. There are good deals at most grocery stores for steak and shrimp this week and a bottle of wine at Aldi or Trader Joes is about the cost of one glass of wine at many restaurants. And the big plus is that you won’t be waiting in line to get into a crowded, loud restaurant for your romantic evening. Light some candles, get out the nice dishes, play some sweet music and enjoy the peaceful evening. 

If the thought of cooking on Valentine’s ruins the mood completely, then at least get a deal on your meal.

* Go out for lunch instead of dinner – the menu prices are usually less expensive and so are the crowds.

* There is no rule that says you have to go out to dinner exactly on February 14th. Go out on a different night to take advantage of weekly specials that some restaurants offer.  Plus, you won't have to fight the Valentine's Day masses yearning to eat out.

* You could even get take out for the main entrees from your favorite restaurant and then enjoy a peaceful evening at home. Provide your own dessert and drinks and you have saved a bundle.

* Daily deal sites: Groupon, Living Social, Twongo, and Moolala have all been offering vouchers for restaurants. With these daily deals sites, you’ll find meals that are 50% off the retail price or better.

* has a list of Valentine's meal offers for various chain restaurants.

* Entertainment books: Use a coupon from the Entertainment Book or a coupon book like the Citipass book for a Buy One Get One Free deals. You can go to the Entertainment Book’s website and actually see a list of all the Raleigh area restaurants offering coupons in the book. If you don’t have one of these books, ask all your Facebook friends if anyone has a coupon book for your city and the specific restaurant.


If your honey is happy with Hershey’s, Russell Stover or other off the shelf chocolate, it’s time to hit the drug stores. There are many candy deals this week coupled with the drug store reward programs. You can see the candy deals that started at the drug stores on Sunday on the WRAL Smart Shopper blog.


You can easily drop $5 on a greeting card but you don’t have to. Walmart and some dollar stores (including Dollar Tree) sell cards as low as 50 cents each. The Dollar Store, Target, CVS and other stores have a line of cards that are $1 or less.Of course, making a sweet card at home is even more frugal. And how about writing an old-fashioned love letter to your sweetie! You'll find Hershey's Valentine's chocolates for as low as $1.12 per bag this week with sale and coupons!

Fun with the Kids

* Start the day off with some heart shaped pancakes using a cookie cutter.  I like to top them with some fresh strawberries or raspberries and powdered sugar.

* Send a heart shaped sandwich, heart shaped fruit, heart shaped sugar cookie and a sweet Valentine in your little one's lunch box. 

* Have your kids make their cards for the grandparents and parents. Homemade cards are fun to make with the kiddos and such a thoughtful gift. It's a fun activity for you to do together and you probably have all the arts and crafts materials at home already.

* Head to Dollar Tree for $1 boxes of kids character Valentine's cards to give away to their friends and classmates.  I saw lots of cute cards including Spider Man, Star Wars, Princesses and more!

* Have a scavenger hunt for the kids or your special someone. Place little hearts all over the place with reasons why you love them written on each little note. Give them a hint on each note where they can find the next one. At the last note, have a little stuffed animal or a $1 heart box of chocolates waiting for them. Gather up all the sweet notes so they can keep them in a scrapbook to look at later.

Planning For Next Year

* Buy clearance Valentines cards and décor after Valentine’s Day this year to use next year.

* Buy red wrapped clearance candy after Christmas each year to use for Valentines Day 6 weeks later. The bags of red and green Hershey’s kisses are great. Use the red ones for Valentine’s Day and you can probably figure out something tasty to do with the green ones!

* Buy solid color red paper plates, cups and napkins from Christmas clearance each year and then use them at Valentine's Day.

* As we all know, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to share a ton of love!

Here are some great suggestions from Smart Shopper readers from previous years:

“One time I cut out a bunch of hearts on Red construction paper and put little notes on them and hid them everywhere all over the apartment and she was still finding them months later! She loved it!” - superturfguy

“Instead of buying your Valentine a expensive card, write him/her a love letter.” - RLM

“We recycle cereal boxes to make valentine holders. We spray paint them and decorate them with stickers and heart shaped doillies from last year's valentine clearance and scraps of construction paper from through out the school year. They are SO cute, and, fairly inexpensive!” - lwright

“We celebrate by buying Valentine's candy on clearance after Valentine's Day! Love is celebrated every day in our house, but candy is only on sale like that after a holiday :-)” – sgbasham (I have heard of other people agreeing ahead of time with spouses to wait until after Valentine’s to buy the candy when it is 50% – 75% off.)

“My husband and I plan on going to the PetSmart in Fayetteville to adopt a cat as a Valentine's Day gift to each other...rescuing a furry friend might be one of the only things that is better than a VDay box of chocolates! ;): - Mrs. Mulkern

“I decorate the inside of my daughters lunch box with cut out pink and red hearts and pack her a lunch that is filled with red and pink foods. Even on the weekend when it's lunch time, I still pack it up just to see the excitement on her face. She really loves the pink heart shaped rice krispy treats! Sometimes I use a big heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out her sandwich.” - t0tAlChA0s

“Valentine's Day 1999 was my boyfriend (now husband) and I's 1 year anniversary. I cut out 365 hearts and wrote on each one fun memories and reasons I love him. I put them in a red mailbox and told him to read 1 each day for the next year of reasons I love him :)” – cheleberg

“I "bought" a pad of 200 heart shaped post it notes at Staples using my cartridge reward money....I plan to stick them all over my husband's bathroom and then close the door...when he stumbles in to the shower on Valentine's Day, won't he be surprised!!” – amomoftwo

“For my best friends, this year I plan to take a bunch of bright yellow bananas and attach a red ribbon with the sentiment, "I'm bananas over you!" For my boyfriend, I've gotten heart-shaped post-it notes, and will write things I love about him on them and then post them in a heart shape on the bathroom mirror and a few other places.” – mudrockstudios

“When we were dating, we made a "memory box" together and put random things in it like movie stubs, concert tickets etc. And through the years, we kept adding to it so on Valentine's Day we just go through the stuff and talk about it over dinner and a couple of Coronas at home!:)” – jvo7780

“My husband adores peanut M&Ms, so I hide them all over for him to find that day. Doesn't cost much and the kids and I have fun hiding them - and he has fun eating them as he finds them!” - lehrerin

“For kids, go to the Dollar Tree EARLY before all the good stuff is wiped out.” – lswiggins

“I like to make up my own coupons (Like "One full day of video game time - no questions, no interruptions"). It's fun making them, and it's nice to see the smiles they generate. Some are funny, and some are special.” - sethorp

What frugal ways are you celebrating Valentine's Day this year?


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  • kaymoon66 Feb 15, 2015

    Great page.

  • Faye Prosser -WRAL Smart Shopper Feb 10, 2015

    Melissa - I think your snow crab dinner sounds wonderful!

    Meredith - how incredibly sweet of you to recreate your first Valentine's. And how frugal to do it at home! You'll have to let us know what your hubby does this year. That's a cute idea to switch it back and forth each year.

    Pcb Douglas - I am sure she will LOVE whatever you come up with!

    Annie - thanks for the link - cooking together is always a nice option.

  • pcbdouglas Feb 9, 2015

    Meredith, I love your idea! I am crazy for fondue, beef fondue especially, but could never quite bring myself to pay the Melting Pot prices. How romantic that you recreated your first Valentine's day! Do you have a fondue pot?

    Melissa, your menu sounds delicious. I thought about a baked pasta. That just might work. On the other hand, I'm also thinking if I can get a bit organized, maybe I can put a little chateaubriand in the oven, or maybe even a thick strip steak/roast. If I make it in the oven, it won't need quite as much babysitting as if I were to grill it outside.

    My first marriage, which very quickly ended, occurred on Valentines Day almost 40 years ago, and I never acknowledged the holiday since. Since DW's and my 25th anniversary is coming up this year, I think it's about time to have our first Valentine's Day together. I'm excited about it, but VERY out of practice. It is going to be a HUGE surprise to DW! :)

  • meredith88 Feb 9, 2015

    Meredith88 here. These new names are going to take some time...

    PCB Douglas, last year was our 5th Vday together and I recreated our first one together. For our first we went to Melting Pot for dinner. We were young and very financially irresponsible ;) Last year I made fondue at home. We had bread, veggies, meats and fruits with boiling seasoned water, cheese fondue, and chocolate. There was some prep work involved but once everything was heated it could sit as long as I needed while I set the table. You could even cook the shrimp appetizer fondue style in the water. Just an idea that worked well for us.

    Since I planned Vday last year this year is my husband's turn so I have no idea what we are doing other than sleeping in :) Since we've both been working about 60 hours a week this year that will be wonderful in itself!

    Faye, the red candies for Valentine's Day and then the green ones are great to save til St. Patrick's Day in March!

  • twinredheads Feb 9, 2015

    I don't know how romantic it is, but we are having steamed snow crab (on sale at Kroger through tomorrow), a french baguette and asparagus. I also know that a lot of people do some type of pasta and something like lasagna could probably sit covered for a bit. Looking forward to hearing other suggestions though.

  • pcbdouglas Feb 9, 2015

    Hey - it's JDouglas13 now known as PCB Douglas.

    Love this thread, Faye. Awesome suggestions.

    I need help thinking up a romantic dinner menu at home for Valentine's Day. Any suggestions? I thought about steak, but I think I would like something that doesn't need quite as much attention and can sit for a bit because I would like to serve shrimp cocktail first for an appetizer. I may even drag out the good dishes if I can find them! Haven't used them since we moved here.