5 Cheap & Sentimental Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Updated February 9, 2020

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Card on red backdrop with rose petals.
If you’re over Valentine’s Day but still want to do something special for your sweetie, try these five ideas.

Chocolate. Roses. Cards. Balloons. If you’ve been out to dinner on Valentine’s Day, you know what I mean — somewhere along the line, Valentine’s day has become a fog of Cupid’s cliche.

Aside from worsting my favorite restaurants with fixed menus and terrible service, I’ve decided that there is no real way to “win” at Hallmark’s game. Sure, you can get a bustier bouquet, more-chocolatey chocolates, and huge cleaves of Tiffany’s diamonds. But bigger doesn’t always mean better, or more love, or even deeper from the heart.

So, this Valentine’s Day, we’re going the opposite direction and giving you five cheap Valentine’s day gifts for her or for him.

1. Print Your Pictures

Couple taking a picture together
You can print your favorite couples photo on wood at Walgreens for less than $20.

Sure, we all have 1,000 pictures  of precious moments and our significant others, all stored on our phones, computers, Instagrams, and Facebook pages. But when’s the last time you got one of those printed?

And, it’s so, so easy. Head on over to Walgreen’s Photo and upload those pix straight away. Then, pick your print type — most of which are available for pickup within a day or so.

As for the options, you can get a spiral-bound, 4×6 printbook for a mere $6.99. Or, for those big spenders out there, have your fav photo printed on an 8×10 piece of wood for $16.99. I gifted one of these last Christmas and was quite pleased with the quality.

2. Write a Love Letter

Woman writing on mirror with lipstick
A handwritten note on the mirror is free.

In this digital world, a handwritten note is a lovely and meaningful change of pace. Oh, and this gift can be as cheap as you want it to be. Would your sweetie tear up at “love you babe” scrawled on the mirror in lipstick? Hey, that’s free, and also priceless.

Another option is a walk on the beach that involves some heartfelt writing in the sand. Or, if you prefer a little more permanency, try a nice piece of stationery and a felt tip pen.

3. Switch Places

One of the best things about being in love is being understood on a deep level. You can show off how well you know each other with a role reversal date.

Here’s how it works. Pick a date night — not February 14th — and take on opposite rolls. If you usually pick the activity and location, let your other half do it this time. Pick out each others outfits. Order for each other.

As long as you can both keep your sense of humor, you’ll have a few laughs and mostly reveal in how well you know each other. That’s what it’s all about, yes?

4. Fake an Evening in France

A romantic, south-of-France vacation doesn’t qualify as cheap, but you can bring France to you.

Woman making French press coffee
It only takes a few details to change things up at home.

If you prefer an evening activity, pick up a bottle of Bordeaux (or two). If the two of you are morning people, pull out that French press and pick up some good coffee. Stream a French playlist like Spotify’s Francesas Musicas Classicas and sit outside of the weather permits. Then, just talk. Talk like you’ve got nowhere to be and nothing to do. You could even wear a beret for the occasion.

5. Bake Together

The couple that bakes together, stays together. That’s not actually a saying — I just made it up. But assuming one of you isn’t a professional chef, couples baking lets you two work together in a new way.

Couple baking together
These two are pretty pro — chocolate cookies might be a good starting point if you’ve never baked together before.

The more relaxed you are, the more fun you’ll have. Be open to breaking any rules your parents might have enforced decades ago. Like, it’s OK to start a flour fight or eat the cookies straight out of the oven.

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By Catherine Brock

As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine, DrLaura.com, Refinery29, Wellness.com and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.