Cupid on a budget: frugal Valentine's Day ideas

Love is definitely in the air this time of year. So is the scent of a dozen roses for $59.99 or the taste of a $30 box of gourmet chocolates. Don't be a stupid cupid and overspend just to say, "I Love You." Keep your Valentine's spending under control and show your love AND wisdom with thoughtful, fun and frugal gifts.

Posted Updated
Valentine's Day
Faye Prosser

Love is definitely in the air this time of year. So is the scent of a dozen roses for $59.99 or the taste of a $30 box of gourmet chocolates. Don’t be a stupid cupid and overspend just to say, “I Love You.” Keep your Valentine’s spending under control and show your love AND wisdom with thoughtful, fun and frugal gifts.


If you have your heart set on giving roses, many grocery stores offer a dozen roses for $20.00 or less. Some offer them as low as $10. This year, Trader Joe’s is selling a dozen roses for $9.99! Keep in mind that you don’t have to buy roses. There are beautiful mixed flower bouquets available at grocery stores like Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods for $12 or less and a 5 stem bunch of tulips is selling for $4.00 at Lowes Foods through February 15.


If you are signed up to receive e-mails from the daily deal sites, you have probably seen some good deals on area restaurants in the last few weeks. It’s not too late it you are still looking for a frugal dining out option for Valentine’s weekend. I am guessing there will be multiple restaurant deals between now and February 14 and I will post them on the blog. Here are some of my favorite daily deal sites for restaurant bargains that are 50% off the retail price or better. The types of deals vary from day to day, but usually at least one of them has a restaurant deal for the Triangle every few days.

If you have an Entertainment Book or a coupon book like the Citipass book, it is full of great coupons for Buy One Get One Free deals. has restaurant gift certificates for amazing discounts off the face value. Make sure you read the fine print because most require a minimum purchase. There is an 80% off code good through Monday, February 14. That means you can get $25 a gift certificate for $2.00 with the code. Enter discount code LOVE at checkout and hit apply. Click HERE for the website.

Of course, the most frugal dining option (other than fasting, I guess) is to eat at home. There were a number of good deals on steak, chicken and shrimp in this week’s grocery deals. If you are a frugal grocery shopper, you have probably been stocking up on the best deals for these items and you already have a freezer full to choose from. Add a salad, make your favorite dessert and stay in for the night. You’ll save money on food, gas and expensive drinks. Pick up a bottle of wine at Trader Joe’s for around $5.00 (vs. $5 per glass at the restaurant) and you are all set.

Additional money saving Valentine’s tips

Decorate the table with a few silk rose petals from Michael’s craft store and some candles and voila – romance on the cheap! I imagine you bought those pretty red candles at one of the many Christmas clearance sales in January for 75% off or more and now you are “recycling” them for Valentine’s Day. Well done.

Go out for lunch instead of dinner – lunch menus are usually less expensive. Plus, more than likely, the restaurant won’t be quite as busy at lunch as they will for dinner on Valentine’s Day.

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.

Scavenger hunt for the kids – 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 Hershey’s or Reeses chocolates from Walmart waiting for them. Gather all the sweet notes and have the kids glue them on construction paper to make a little book of love.

Here are some great suggestions from Smart Shopper readers

“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 (I love this idea! I actually send mine to school with a heart shaped peanut butter sandwich today!)

“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

Thanks to all of you for sharing your wonderful frugal Valentine’s Day ideas! If you have any more, post them here. As I always say, it's your money - spend it wisely!


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