Frugal Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Do you have your frugal gift giving list in order? Saint Valentine sure had it in for us guys when he decided Valentine’s Day would fall on February 14, less than two months after Christmas. It is a rare occasion when frugality and romance mix, but why not make this Valentine’s Day the year to celebrate frugally with some low-cost, romantic gift ideas. Warning, this is an area where frugality could be harmful to your health, so be sure you are giving these gifts from the heart, not just to save a buck.

Homemade coupon books are an inexpensive way to show your appreciation for loved ones. The design is not as the important as the content here, so don’t fret too much over the type of paper to use, the cover design, etc. Spend your time and energy brainstorming ideas and activities that really make your loved one happy. In a small booklet format, start listing those ideas, one per page. On Valentine’s Day present the homemade coupon book along with the promise to fulfill the coupon when presented. Here are a few ideas that may provide some inspiration:

  • Good for One Free Car Wash
  • Dad Takes the Kids For One Day
  • A One-Hour Massage
  • Dad Does the Cooking for One Week
  • One “Chick-Flick” Date Night
  • Get Out of Doing Dishes for One Week
  • Spend One Week With No Television (not eligible for redemption during football season)

Browse for frugal gifts. has dedicated an entire page to Valentine’s Day gifts, and the best part is you can quickly search for Her/Him by price, meaning you can quickly filter out those non-frugal items.  Then again guys, just this once, you may want to splurge a little.  I do about 90% of my holiday shopping there, including Valentine’s Day.

Plan a picnic. In some parts of the country the weather is nice enough to plan a picnic by February 14. If not, bring a coat and go anyway. Besides, cold weather usually resorts to snuggling, and that’s a good thing on Valentine’s Day. Pick up an inexpensive basket at a flea market or craft store, and prepare an assortment of your loved one’s favorite snacks at home. The menu could be as simple as some fine cheese with crackers, or homemade mini-sandwiches and a small dessert. A quick search for picnic menu ideas yields some great results. Top it off with an inexpensive bottle of wine, or your beverage of choice. Don’t forget at least two blankets (one for the ground, and one for her). Make this a surprise and add to the suspense. Load up the picnic basket ahead of time and then tell your Valentine to dress warm for a surprise date.

Take a day trip. Schedule a vacation day from the office and surprise her with a short day trip to a regional attraction. Make it a fun date – maybe a visit to an aquarium, museum, or even the zoo. Plan ahead by ordering tickets in advance, and be on the lookout for any merchants that offer deals if you buy from them (your Valentine doesn’t have to know). Plan to eat lunch and/or dinner before visiting the attraction because food at entertainment venues is nearly as expensive as movie theater candy.

Bottom line, it is true what they say – it is the thought that counts. You don’t have to go broke showering your Valentine with overly expensive gifts to show your love for them. In fact, gifts from the heart usually mean more to the recipient than something bought at a store, at least they do to us frugal dads.


  1. Great ideas Jason. It seems like we always budget for Christmas, but who plans for Valentines, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, food for Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day?

    Thanks for reminding me to plan something good. I just hope I’m not out of town again. I’ve been out of town on business on Valentine’s Day for 5 years in a row.

  2. I’m very lucky to have a husband who shares my view that Valentine’s Day is a holiday created by greeting card companies – we usually don’t do anything to “celebrate”. This year, however, my son really seems to like hearts, so we will probably make some out of construction paper to hang around the house. I also requested a handmade valentine from my son (daddy will help!), which will mean a lot.

    We may share a bottle of wine though – that sounds like a nice idea which won’t break the bank!

  3. Additions to the list:

    X coupons for laundry, ironed and folded

    X coupons for vacuumed rooms to be determined

    Item around the house to be fixed within a reasonable hour.

    For the last one, I suggest you survey the house before giving that bad boy away 🙂

  4. We don’t exchange gifts for Valentine’s Day because our birthdays are so close to the holidays. I usually just make a really nice dinner for us and we indulge in it after the kids go to bed and play a board game or watch a movie. I just love doing this more than feeling the guilt of spending money on a Hallmark holiday!!

  5. How about flowers? You can get some at the grocery store for about $4. It doesn’t matter how cheap the flowers are, my wife is ALWAYS excited when I surprise her with flowers.

  6. “Be sure you are giving these gifts from the heart, not just to save a buck.” I like your way of giving gifts for our loved once .

  7. As our anniversary is the same week as Valentine’s Day we don’t celebrate both, but my daughter is big on traditions and celebrations (she’s 17 ….but a 5 year old when it comes to these things) so this year instead of running to Target and spending $30 on “stuff” I just went and raided our craft/school supplies closet. I plan on making them each a Valentine (they grew up on craft ideas from Family Fun magazine so it’s kind of a joke! – I am also doing a heart pancake breakfast (2 plastic heart plates and a heart cutter – Walmart less than $5 total and all can be reused) and plan to decorate the breakfast table with gift wrap and cut out hearts etc. I am also making Valentines from the pets (my daugther particularly is wondering how she will live without them at College)by taking their pics against a red background. To top it off I will make heart shaped pizzas for later in the day. I figure I will enjoy this as much as they do. The $ investment is minimal – it really just involves my time and creativity and I know it will be appreciated. I find that now they are teens they like it when I do something for them that reminds them of all the stuff I did for them in grade school! I have also invited my daughter’s boyfriend over to join in the fun so that they don’t feel the need to spend a lot of money (my daughter has none) either. I am just beginning my journey from becoming an emotional spender to living sensibly and frugally – and I have to say that planning this has been a lot of fun. It’s amazing how much more than $ I get back when I have to get creative and while I could refuse to indulge in Valentines Day at all – it’s a good day to celebrate your love for others without caving in to the commercial aspect of it.