I often hear cynics say that Valentine’s Day was created by the chocolate and greeting card industries as a gimmick to make money. Others complain that restaurants jack up their prices for the full Valentine’s Day week! But I like to think that, in our ever-changing and extra-busy lives, Valentine’s Day is a one day reminder to take a minute to value something truly special in our lives – our significant others. And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune! Here are a few wonderfully inexpensive, yet still awesome and thoughtful, ways to celebrate this romantic holiday.
1) Living room picnic:
What is more cozy and romantic than a picnic? But, February in Canada isn’t exactly picnic friendly weather. So why not bring the picnic to your living room? Grab a nice cozy blanket, set up a scrumptious cheese and charcuterie platter, and uncork a full-bodied red wine and voilà! You have yourself a romantic Valentine’s Day picnic, in the middle of winter, without the threat of rain or mosquitos!
**Cost: Cheese + charcuterie + wine = less than $30 **
2) Hit up a jazz bar:
Jazz has got to be one of the most romantic musical genres. So why not grab your sweetie and find your local jazz bar? Most jazz bars don’t charge any entrance fee. So, for the cost of a couple of drinks, you and your honey can hold hands and stare dreamily into each other’s eyes while listening to the soft sounds of a sax!
**Cost: 2-4 drinks = $20 - $40 **
3) Visit a museum:
Whether you are a history buff, science aficionado, or art lover, there is a museum out there right for you. Do a little research before you head out because, in addition to being generally a low cost of admission, there are even winter weeks where museums are free!
**Cost: if not FREE, then less than $20 **
4) Ditch the gadgets:
We live in a busy world of constantly walking around with our eyes glued to a screen somewhere. And, even on dates, we have been known to check our phones, update our statuses, and Instagram our photo-worthy food. But what if, for one full date night, you and your loved one ditched the gadgets and simply dined with each other. No Facebook friends present, no Instagramming the moment. Nothing. I guarantee this romantic spin on dining would bring you closer together.
**Cost: FREE **
5)Dine in, Dessert out:
A great way to save a few bucks is to eat dinner at home, but head out for a romantic dessert. Find a local chocolaterie or your favorite ice cream shoppe. If the romantic two-strawed milkshake date worked for Archie, Betty and Veronica, it is sure to work for you and your sweetheart.
**Cost: under $20 **
6) Comedy or improv:
Going to see a live show is expensive. But, with a little research into your local venues, you can almost always find a smaller theater group having an impromptu improv night, or an open-mic comedy night. Seeing some of your local comedic talent or theater groups can be some of the most fun you will have all year!
**Cost: under $40 **
7) Doll up:
Why does dining out always feel more romantic than dining at home? It’s the dress up factor! We get all dolled up whenever we go out but dining at home is usually in sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt. Sweats and t-shirts just don’t feel romantic, do they? A great way to bring some romance right to your own dining room is to simply get yourself all dolled up for dinner. You and your significant other can even plan a fun meal that you can make together and, once it is ready, go and get ready separately to then ͞meet͟ in the dining room. It has such a romantic 19th century kind of feel to it.
**Cost: FREE (plus the cost of the meal) **
8) Fondue night:
Honestly, this is one of my favorite romantic dates. Couple the fondue with the "gadget free evening" and let the conversation flow for hours. Chatting over the slow, drawn-out fondue meal is a great way to reconnect with your loved one. Talk about your hopes and dreams, the issues of the week, and ask your significant other about his/her issues. It is the perfect opportunity to see each other in a whole new, deeper, way.
**Cost: $30 **
Cynicism aside, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be commercialized and expensive. It should be about two people who want to remind each other how they feel. No need for money, no need for greeting cards and flowers, just a need to be together for a quiet moment in a busy world.