12 Budget-Friendly, Cheap, or Free Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Updated on February 2, 2018
Carolyn M Fields profile image

Lifelong learner, musician, author, world traveler, truth enthusiast, and all around bon vivant.

Legends and Lore

There are many, many alternative accounts of the origins of St. Valentine’s Day. The one that I remember most concerns Saint Valentine of Rome, a priest who was persecuted for marrying Christian couples. There is a lot of confusion about the accuracy of this account, due in part to the popularity of the name “Valentine,” which comes from the Latin word for “worthy, strong, or powerful.” Turns out it was a very popular name between the second and eighth centuries A.D.

Still, St. Valentine’s Day didn’t become a celebration of romantic love until much, much later. Many point to “The Parliament of Fowls,” a poem written around 1375 by the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer. In this work, he links the tradition of courtly love to the celebration of the St. Valentine’s festival.

Here is an excerpt:

For this was on Saint Valentine’s day,
When every fowl comes there his mate to take,
Of every species that men know, I say,
And then so huge a crowd did they make,
That earth and sea, and tree, and every lake
Was so full, that there was scarcely space
For me to stand, so full was all the place.


Other origins of the day are far less sentimental. History records the celebration of Lupercalia (known as the “festival of sexual license”), and the feast day of Juno Februata during the month of February. The first of these involves ritual sacrifice, while the second involves forming temporary sexual liaisons by drawing random names written on pieces of paper. Neither of these would result in what you might call a “Hallmark Moment.”

Today in the United States, St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated by exchanging cards, and increasingly by giving gifts. Hand-written notes were supplanted by commercially produced greeting cards by the mid-19th Century. Increasingly, all manner of gifts are exchanged, from flowers, to chocolates and jewelry. St. Valentine’s Day is known to many as a “Hallmark Holiday,” due to the commercialization of the day.

A Dozen Ideas

If you would like to celebrate the day, but don’t like the hype and commercialization, here are a dozen suggestions that aren’t likely to break the bank.

  1. Hand-written note: Use nice stationery, or plain white paper that you’ve decorated yourself. If you’re looking for something to write, google “Valentine’s Day poems” to get yourself started.
  2. Love Coupon: It sounds cheesy, but write your own love coupon book. There are a million ideas on Pinterest. If you’re not artistic, you can even find printable coupons there.
  3. Heart-felt kiss: Pick your moment, look into your lover’s eyes, put one or both hands on his or her face, and plant a sweet, deep kiss on their mouth.
  4. Home-cooked meal: This one works best if you are not the “regular” cook, but it works either way. Be sure to include a nice dessert.
  5. Something Sweet: You don’t have to buy a fancy box of candy. Try baking a cake or cookies at home. They even have tubes of dough that practically bake themselves.
  6. Sing: If you have a decent voice (and even if you don’t), sing a love song to your partner. Put on a record for accompaniment, or just go a cappella.
  7. Poem: Write a poem. Remember the “roses are red, violets are blue . . .” beginning? It’s not that difficult.
  8. Dance: Turn on some slow music, and invite your love to dance with you. This can be done in public or private.
  9. Hug: Everybody can use a nice hug. When was the last time you hugged your loved one?
  10. Massage: You don’t have to do a full body massage to be appreciated. Try a shoulder or neck massage, or even a foot massage.
  11. Hot Beverage: Bring coffee, tea, or hot cocoa to your loved one, preferably when they are still in bed.
  12. Reach Out, and Touch Someone: Call or text your dearest out of the blue, just to say "I love you."

Bonus Ideas

Here are a couple more (inexpensive) things you might do to make Valentine's Day special. You could send a valentine or letter to a veteran. You don't even need to know someone personally. Here is an address:

Thank a Veteran
c/o Penny Alfonso
1970 Rangeview Drive
Glendale, CA 91201

You could look up a assisted living facility, or nursing home and deliver some valentine's cookies. Or bring flower, balloons, or anything cheerful. Use your imagination.

How will you celebrate Valentine's Day?

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  • Carolyn M Fields profile image

    Carolyn Fields 13 months ago from South Dakota, USA

    Thanks, Larry!

  • Larry Rankin profile image

    Larry Rankin 13 months ago from Oklahoma

    Great tips. Wish I'd read this a day ago, lol.