We’re still three weeks shy of Valentine’s Day, but that doesn’t mean you should hold off on your shopping til the last minute. (How’d that work out for you at Christmas?) Planning early can help you avoid unnecessary expenses. Here’s my strategy to make this Valentine’s Day both romantic and financially-responsible.
1. Don’t Celebrate on the 14th
This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday. Making reservations at your favorite restaurant for the night of the 14th – and likely the Friday and Saturday nights immediately following – will not only be difficult, it could also be more expensive. On top of that, you may be forced to contend with limited menus and inflated prices.
Instead, why not try… Dining out the previous weekend? You’ll be able to capitalize on full menus without the competition for a reservation. Last year, my husband and I ate out to celebrate Valentine’s Day on the Friday before Valentine’s Day; getting a table was a snap, and we were even able to snag a half-price bottle of our favorite wine because of a pre-holiday promotion. Of course, you can also skip the restaurant altogether and try these unusual date ideas.
2. Skip the Champagne
A few years ago, Food Digital unveiled its list of top ten champagnes you can actually afford to drink. It was a nice idea, until I saw that the average price of those so-called “affordable” bottles was $41.50. That’s not exactly “affordable” in my book. Sometimes, though, you want to drink something special on Valentine’s Day, not your usual glass of red wine or bottle of beer.
Instead, why not try… A bottle of Prosecco? This sparkling white wine from Italy comes in dry and extra dry varieties, similar to champagne but at about half the price.
3. Roses Really Smell Like Poo Poo Poo
Yes, I just quoted OutKast – and while I don’t begin to suppose that roses literally smell bad, they stink when it comes to frugal Valentine’s Day gifts. If you’ve ever tried to buy a dozen roses this time of year, you know that roses are at a premium, both in terms of demand and pricing.
Instead, why not try… Other in-season varieties? Possible options include:
- Calla lilies (my personal favorite; these flowers are beyond elegant)
- Gerbera daisies
- Magnolia flowers
- Ranunculus (this variety looks very similar to roses)
Because these flowers bloom in February, they aren’t as expensive as hot-house varieties; plus, because they’re not stereotypically associated with Valentine’s Day, a rise in demand won’t lead to a spike in prices.
4. Avoid Valentine’s-Themed Jewelry
The Valentine’s Day I was pregnant with our first child, I became obsessed with the “Journey” necklace. The piece of jewelry was heavily marketed by some of the biggest chains leading up to the holiday, and I was inevitably sucked in. Blame it on the hormones, but I convinced my husband I needed this necklace, and he bought it for me – for $299. By the first of March, it was on sale for $199.
Instead, why not try… A timeless piece of jewelry? The necklace I so coveted was created largely for Valentine’s Day, and the price reflected that. My husband could have purchased a far more traditional piece of jewelry at a better price, or I simply could have waited until after the holiday to get the love-themed piece.
5. Snag a Lovely Discount
On the verge of eschewing all my above advice? If you’re still insistent on celebrating on the 14th with a bottle of bubbly, a dozen red roses, and a heart-shaped necklace, do yourself a favor and do your research now. I’ve noticed dozens of romantic Groupon and LivingSocial deals lately, but these aren’t your only options. Look for discounted gift cards on sites like Gift Card Granny, Plastic Jungle, and CardPool; you’ll find great deals on everything from retail stores (to buy that jewelry or flowers) to restaurant chains to hotels.