Let’s face it: The economy is still kind of slow right now and most of us are still trying to recover from spending way too much during the holidays; the last thing we need now is another occasion to buy someone a gift. And yet Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. So what do you do for your sweetheart when you’re cash-strapped and counting your pennies?
Well, this is the time to get creative. While a diamond necklace or a trip to Maui are always appreciated, sometimes a thoughtful gift that costs you more time than dough can mean so much more. Check out some ideas that are sweet and thoughtful, yet thrifty and easy on the wallet — and they’re sure to make your significant other’s heart swell:
- Remember the mix tape? Spending hours in your room, fast-forwarding and rewinding the cassettes to just the right spot, selecting just the right songs that croon and belt out exactly how you feel? Well, you may not have a dual-cassette player anymore or maybe you missed the tape-generation altogether, but you do have an MP3 player and several gigs of music on your hard drive. Create a special playlist for your love with romantic songs telling her just how you feel. Burn to a disk or copy onto a thumb drive, and your significant other can listen to how much you love her over and over.
- You really can’t go wrong with flowers and it’s fairly easy to find an inexpensive bouquet, but fancy flowers are cliché. But there’s a way to make it unique and just for her: Go to the grocery store and buy a few different small bouquets in her favorite colors, unwrap them, put them all together and re-wrap in pretty tissue or wrapping paper. It’s special, and she’ll notice the effort.
- Along the same lines as flowers but greener and longer lasting: Why not give a Bulb Bouquet? Select a cute flower pot and a handful of bulbs of tulips, orchids, lilies — whatever you like. Plant in the pot and include a sweet card with a note that says something like, “My love for you is renewed with every springtime bloom.” Cheesy? Definitely. But you’ll thank me when she smiles and thinks of you again in the spring. She can keep the bulbs and flowers in the pot or plant them outdoors once the ground thaws.
- Everyone loves a romantic dinner, but sometimes going out to eat just isn’t in the budget, and on Valentine’s Day most restaurants are just too crowded to be intimate. So why not cook dinner at home? Surprise her with a romantic dinner for two. Set the table with candles and cloth napkins. Turn the lights down low and put on some soft music (remember the romantic play list you created?). Whether you’re a chef in the kitchen or just really great at heating up delivery from a nice restaurant, she’ll appreciate the effort and the quiet time with you.
- It’s possible to give beautiful jewelry without breaking the bank. Step foot into any mall or jewelry store these days and you’ll see displays of decorative beads and charms. The charm bracelet is always sweet idea, and silver is often less expensive than gold. Buy the bracelet and a charm or two for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, while also setting yourself up for easy birthday, anniversary and holiday gifts for the rest of the year!
Whatever you decide to do for Valentine’s Day this year, remember to make it thoughtful. Take the time to really think about what your sweetheart likes, and keep in mind that your time and effort mean so much more than the amount printed at the bottom of the receipt.
This is a guest post from Erica Moss. Erica is the social media outreach coordinator for the online Masters in Nursing program at Georgetown University, which has one of the nation’s leading family nurse practitioner programs concentrations. She also loves exploring NYC, photography and meeting new people in her free time.