Celebrating Valentine’s day

Expensive dinners and extravagant gifts: Valentine’s Day can come with overwhelming expectations, but it shouldn’t be that way. Valentine’s Day is all about being with someone special and celebrating love and good times, be it with your partner, best mate or even your mum.

Kiwis apparently spent an average of $216 each last year as per Finder. That is a lot of money, and it seems that in all that financial and emotional pressure, the true message of Valentine’s Day gets lost.

Love is in the air, or is it?

With all the hype, we can sometimes forget that the most important thing about Valentine’s Day is to spend time with your loved one and to make memories together, not to spend a heap of money we can often ill-afford.

Sadly, many of us feel pressure to spend a lot of money to please our partner or live up to what we think our partner’s expectations might be.

Romantic gestures mean more than money. The key to someone’s heart lies in the meaning behind the gift, not how much it cost. So, we have put together some ideas on how to make Valentine’s Day less stressful and less expensive while still letting you win friends and influence the right people.

How to make both your budget and your special person happy this Valentine’s Day

Set your expectations beforehand

As with most things in relationships, good communication is key. Are you crystal clear on your partner’s thoughts on the whole Valentine’s day thing? Is it important to them to celebrate? If so, how? If you agree on whether or not you’re giving gifts and what you’re comfortable with, there’s a much lower chance of disappointment. If you are giving gifts, you could also agree on a price range so that one person isn’t spending $10 while the other spends $100.

You can still be ‘secret squirrel’ about your gift, but discussions help reduce any stress or worries you may have. Talking means you can plan the day together and both get what you want.

Don’t just go for the low-hanging fruit

Don’t buy flowers or chocolate or a cute teddy bear just because it’s easy. Many a study has indicated that not only is this a costly option because these items are very expensive around Valentine’s day, but they can also backfire. These gifts can be seen as thoughtless and impersonal.

Get out there and do it

If you aren’t artistic, creative, or a talented gift-giver, now might be the time to accept defeat in these areas. Instead of dropping cash on simple items, create memories by planning an activity. Research shows that couples who engage in activities together form a stronger bond than those who don’t.

So, get out a piece of paper, or a device, and make a list of what your partner actually likes. Start by asking yourself things like:

  • What are their hobbies and interests?
  • What are their favourite shows, movies games, or sports teams?
  • What do they really enjoy eating and where?
  • What do we enjoy doing together as a couple?
  • What would they really like help with that I can do?

Maybe these questions may lead to tickets to a play, a sports game, plans for a beach day, breakfast in bed, helping with a job or maybe just a binge watch of favourite movies. Maybe you’ll plan a visit to where you first met or got engaged. Whatever it is, the memories you make, or re-visit, will be much sweeter when you make them together, and that’s backed by science.

Here are 8 ideas for an affordable yet romantic Valentine’s day

1. Celebrate at home: A dinner out at a fancy restaurant may seem like a good go-to option, but it often comes with a hefty price tag and the feeling that you need to have a great time. Those pressures can sometimes ruin a lovely night that should be about celebrating the person in your life. Staying home can keep things low pressure. Instead of worrying about getting the night absolutely right or panicking over what restaurant to go to, you can just focus on spending quality time together. If you’re not a great cook, make a picnic on the lounge floor. Grab some lovely crusty bread and some treats from the deli section at the supermarket. Love to cook? Try whipping up a new recipe together.

2. Keep it simple: A small gesture like cooking breakfast can be just as meaningful as a big gesture, particularly when life is hectic.

3. Go against the flow: Just because the rest of the world is celebrating on the 14th of February doesn’t mean you have to. If you want to go to a restaurant, why not celebrate the night before, the weekend before, or any other day? Scheduling a special dinner out togther on your own time makes it more about your partner and less about an arbitrary date. It can also make it a lot more affordable. You can get vouchers from GrabOne or for early dining options at half the price, try First Table. Give your partner a card with an “our valentine’s dining event, not theirs” written in it.

4. Get out and about: Take a walk on the beach, in the bush or just explore a new neighbourhood. The great thing about Valentine’s Day in New Zealand is that it’s summer, so you have loads of wonderful outdoor activities at your calling.

5. Get creative: Make a handmade gift like a photo album of your lives together or a piece of art.

6. Write a love letter: In a heartfelt love letter, you can express your feelings and let your partner know how much they mean to you. You might be able to say how you feel better on paper than face to face and words on paper last – very helpful for those less loving times in life.

7. Give the gift of time: Offer to do a household chore to free up your partner’s time. If you’re handy, why not offer to fix that thing around the house that needs doing? That helpful job might be hanging a picture, mending a shirt, sorting some cupboards, weeding the garden or painting something. A heartfelt gift of your time can be so much more meaningful than an expensive present.

8. Plan an activity: This could be something as simple as playing cards, board games or watching a movie together. The point is to spend quality time together and make memories that you both will cherish.

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day together your way

Instead of using money as a way of showing love or commitment, Valentine’s Day can be the perfect time to focus on how well you really know your significant other.

Ignore the pressure to buy something expensive. Instead, put emphasis on the experience. Doing an activity together that your partner actually enjoys is something you’ll both remember for years to come.

Making Valentine’s day a budget-friendly celebration

If these tips help you to create an affordable yet romantic and meaningful Valentine’s Day, then that’s something to really celebrate.

Ultimately though, Valentine’s Day is not about what you do, or don’t do. It’s all about who you’re with. The most important thing is to make sure you spend time together.