Thursday, February 12, 2009

Frugal Friday: Inexpensive Dates and Valentine Gifts for Your Spouse

I started this post before Mike surprised me today with a heart-shaped bouquet of flowers and I love getting surprised with flowers from my husband (thank you, sweetie!), but if your budget is too tight for the typical Valentine's Day celebration, you don't have to break your budget to show your spouse that you love them. In fact, some of the best dates/gifts are free. Here are some ideas for thoughtful, fun, and romantic inexpensive dates and Valentine's Day gifts for your spouse...
1.) Go out for just dessert or gourmet coffee at the local coffee shop - even split one.
2.) Go dancing. I wish we were in Pittsburgh so that we could go Swing Dancing at the Wittman School in Squirrel Hill (see here) - a little more expensive ($16-20 for the night) but it's not only fun, it's good exercise too. For those in the Ashland area, there are the Malabar Farm barn dances through the summertime (free).
3.) Give each other a nice long backrub.
4.) Write a poem or song together or for each other instead of buying a card.
5.) Write the story of how you met, add pictures if you have them, and publish it in a photo book (there are often deals on these) or if you have Movie Maker on your computer you could create a video (this is what Mike did for me last Valentine's Day and I loved it!)
6.) Cook a nice dinner by candlelight at home, play soft music and dress up like you were eating at a four-star restaurant. If you have a favorite restaurant entree you may be able to find the recipe online (like I did with the Olive Garden's Tuscan Chicken from this week's Meal Planner Monday) - even splurging on a steak dinner or fancy dinner at home is usually much cheaper than ordering the same thing at a restaurant. Print out a menu in a fancy font and use linen tablecloths and a create a centerpiece from what you already have at home. If you don't want to do a whole dinner just make a special dessert such as cherry cheesecake.
7.) Take a class on photography if one is available inexpensively or teach yourself. Then, have a photo shoot of each other or ask someone to come along and take pictures of the two of you together - make it funny or romantic - be creative.
8.) Take a book on wildflowers or birds (visit the library for one) and go on a nature walk. Be sure to take pictures along the way. They will be great framed for decorations at home.
9.) Swap babysitting with another family or plan your date during the lunchtime or afternoon when the kids are in school.
10.) Play a board game together.
11.) Go to the park - pack a picnic, feed the ducks, hold hands, find a quiet place to cuddle on a blanket.
12.) Ride a bike - if it is available rent a bicycle-for-two for something unique.
13.) Attend a free outdoor concert if there are any where you live.
14.) Attend a play or sporting event at the local high school or college.
15.) Go stargazing - Take an astronomy book and see if you can identify the constellations in the night sky.
16.) Go bowling or play goofy golf.
17.) Go to the mall and people-watch.
18.) Pull out an old photo album or reminesce about your first dates.
19.) Depending on the cost - visit the local museum, zoo, art gallery, or historical sites. Check to see if there are discounts.
20.) For inexpensive group dates with other couples, plan a progressive dinner or scavenger hunt (like the "Amazing Race").
21.) Make a heart-shaped pizza.
22.) Go camping in the backyard.
23.) Make chocolate fondue and feed each other.
24.) Write out all the things that you love about your spouse on little pieces of paper and put them in a decorative container or heart-shaped box.
25.) Write a love letter to your spouse. Put it in a bottle and float it in a bathtub filled with bubble bath.
26.) Check out a movie from the local library (free).
27.) Read from the Song of Solomon aloud to each other.
28.) Go for a stroll at sunset. Watch the sun set over water.
29.) Go for a moonlit walk.
30.) Try something new - a new ethnic food, a new hobby, etc. Try something such as geocaching if you know anyone that has the equipment.
31.) Do something together that you haven't done in a really long time or maybe since you were dating (for example we went snow tubing on our first date). And if it's reasonable, go to that same place where you had the original date.
32.) Buy one of not-too-expensive scratch-off lottery tickets and write a romantic note that says "I hit the jackpot when I met you."
33.) Play romantic music and slow dance in your living room.
34.) Hide love notes for your spouse to his wallet, on the mirror, etc.
35.) Plan a "mystery" date or surprise weekend. Leave notes or clues leading up your special time together.
36.) Come up with your own variation of the "Love Dare" book from the Fireproof movie - make up 40 days of special ways to show your love.
37.) Take an old medicine bottle and type out a label for a "Prescription for Love"
38.) The Love Jar Activity (see more on this link to Focus on the Family)
39.) Give your spouse a book of "love coupons." These are coupons for something extra-special to be used later. Try to target your spouse's love language. They can include anything you want, but some ideas are: a day of rest and no nagging (even if that means sitting and watching football all afternoon), a massage, 100 spoken "I Love Yous," a chore that your spouse does not like to do, an evening together to just talk, etc.
I have enjoyed listening to parts of several "Valentine's Day" Christian radio broadcasts this week (when I have a chance to work at my desk), including a 2-part series on "Romancing Your Spouse" on FamilyLife Today with CJ and Carolyn Mahaney (see link here), and "Experiencing God's Dream for Your Marriage" on Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram (see link here).


Joni said...

wow! that was a lot!

we won't be going out...we don't like the he works 10-9 tomorrow and 9-8 saturday...

we don't like to go out b/c one year we did and we waited at Hickory Grill for 3 hrs to was well worth it though...but we were STARVING by the time we got to the table. We just went out last week and had a date! :)

I'll do something else though...but shh...can't tell. :)

thanks for ideas though! :)

Julie said...

Keith surprised me with #1 last night. A Babysitter showed up at our door at 6:45 (I was folding towels) - he let me go change and wash my face before we left :) I had no idea - I wondered why he was so insistant on vaccuuming after dinner though! ~ We just went to applebees and got the new chocolate chip sundae w/ mocha fudge sauce. It was SO good and perfect size to share!

We've also been enjoying Family Life's broadcasts this week. I crack up over CJ's story of taking Carolyn out fishing every time I hear it - and Keith didn't propose to me again but he told me Dennis Rainey told him to... we've had fun with it. I love the Mahaneys... I'll have to listen to the rest of Family Life's series.

Tomorrow we have a day with the kids - an annual treasure hunt with all their cards at the end for them to open - always fun :)

Thanks for the list though! - I'll have to keep it for ideas when the weather gets warmer!
Have a great Valentine's Day!