Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that you either love or your dread. Obviously if you are single, you do your best to ignore the cheesy commercials on TV, the cute teddy bears in the stores, but don’t worry – you have the advantage of heading back to the candy aisle the day after to take advantage of discounts!
However, for those who do have a special person in their life, it’s a time of high unspoken expectations. For example, my husband asked me this past week if I wanted anything for Valentine’s Day. I told him No – when I knew inside I did. So I then told him that even if I did want something it wouldn’t be the same if I told him what I wanted – adding the caveat, if I even wanted anything.
What good is a Valentine’s Day gift if it is forced? Yes, the poor fellow was quite confused. Today he proceeded to tell me he almost bought me a $60 Thai food set with spices included. I had to tell him, that’s not what I wanted… it’s what he wanted!
With the hopes my husband reads this article, here are some ideas for you and your loved one to consider which express thoughtfulness as well as a pinch of frugality:
What can Speak Louder Words but a Picture?
Photos are inexpensive but can hold a wealth of emotion. Think of a memorable time the two of you have had – perhaps a party, a special trip or even your first date. Choose a picture that has both of you in it, not just of yourself as that can appear a bit self centered. The point of the picture is to signify a special time together.
You always have the option of having the picture custom framed at a frame shop, however that can be quite costly. Instead, look at clearance racks for sturdy good quality frames, or depending on prices and budget visit antique shops for a truly unique frame. If you are real die hard hunter of frugality, visit local thrift stores or yard sales which although may be cheap in regards to price, you never know what gem you might find for an excellent price.
A Day Off, A Day Together
For any couple in love, time together which isn’t rushed or squeezed in between appointments and obligations is a real treasure. Choose to take a day off that works with the other’s schedule and choose to do something you rarely get the chance to do. Perhaps it’s spending the day at an art museum to catch a special exhibit, or driving in the country and eating at a quaint little restaurant with no plans to be anywhere by any particular time.
Maybe, the day is as simple as staying home while the kids are gone at school. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something you want to do. Remember, not all Valentine’s Day celebrations need to take place on Valentine’s Day!
A Romantic Dinner at Home
One of the most cost effective gifts can be cooking a good meal at home. You don’t need to go buy a leg of lamb, but some lamb chops could be just as nice for a lot less. Regardless of your main meal, make sure to have an appetizer, a salad and a dessert (store bought is fine). Make certain you not only have candles, but candle holders to use. Pick a romantic jazz or acoustic CD and set the mood just right.
If cooking truly isn’t your niche, consider ordering carry out from a nice restaurant and bringing it home. Reheat gently in the oven or stove to prevent anything being served lukewarm. Serve on fine china and make sure the mood is just right!
If you choose to eat out at night rather than make your own meal at home, try some homemade desserts such as these:
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
This dessert is a good option for a few reasons. First, it is very economical and secondly it takes very little time to prepare.
Simply purchase a pack of strawberries (make sure to purchase a few days prior so they have time to ripen), along with chocolate made for fruit. If you rather make the chocolate yourself, simply melt some chocolate and 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter in a double boiler.
Dip the strawberries into the chocolate and let cool on parchment paper. It will take about 30 minutes for the chocolate to cool and set.
Chocolate covered strawberries make a great romantic snack after a meal. Serve with some wine, dim the lights, turn on the music and relax.
If you man is Italian you have a winner here. Any Italian raised with Italian culture will understand the value of gelato. Gelato is the Italian version of American ice cream. It is creamier and denser and is treated with great respect!
You can make gelato at home from scratch which will take some time, or if you have a gelato maker, it will take approximately 40 minutes until ready. For a good step by step instructional, you can visit herewhich includes some great images, but you’ll still need an ice cream maker. If deciding which flavor suites the season, choose either chocolate or strawberry.
If making it from scratch isn’t your thing, gelato is sometimes offered in the ice cream section of the grocery store and usually are sold in small pints. For the price of one of these, you’ve just saved yourself money from ordering two specialty desserts at an overpriced restaurant!
The key to celebrating Valentine’s Day right is always about thoughtfulness. No matter what you choose, it never has to be expensive to show how much you love and appreciate someone. Ironically, literally as I wrote this article, my husband yet again brought up the topic and asked what his budget was. The ironic thing is, all I need is a rose in the morning and some powered donuts and a cup of coffee. I’m sure he’ll figure it out!
About the Author
This article was contributed by Liz Krause, owner of an Italian cooking website. She offers free Italian recipes and product reviews on kitchen appliances used in Italian cooking such as gelato machines as mentioned above. She enjoys writing about food and her culinary experiences in the kitchen and believes good food is a sure way to any man’s heart!