When you're on a budget, trying to plan a romantic, creative date with your partner can be super stressful. But instead of panicking and lamenting all the expensive things you
can't afford, go ahead and focus on the many cheap Valentine's Day date ideas you can afford — because it's totally possible to sweep your partner off their feet without demolishing your bank account balance in the process.
Between pricy presents and fancy dinners, "too many people get caught up in the ritual and the ceremony and often forget the whole point of the holiday in the first place: to
spend time with the one you love and make them feel loved," Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert, tells Bustle. "And this can be done for basically no cost whatsoever."
It might sound cheesy, but it really
is the thought that counts . If you put some effort into planning a creative Valentine's Day date, it'll mean just as much — if not more — than any shiny gift or dozen roses ever could. With that in mind, here are 11 ideas for cheap, romantic dates that will help you both focus on what really matters: having a good time and nurturing your connection. 1 Volunteer
This date idea will depend on the volunteer options available in your area, but go ahead and see if anyone needs an extra hand this Valentine's Day — and turn it into an outing.
Call to ask if a local animal shelter needs help walking dogs, or find out if your nearest
Habitat for Humanity needs help sorting donated furniture.
You'll be giving back to your community
and spending meaningful time together, making this date a total win-win. 2 Cook A Meal That Turns You On
If you don't have the cash to order a ton of take-out right now, go through your kitchen and see about preparing an "aphrodisiac meal" for yourselves. Not only will it be more affordable to cook at home,
Amy Reiley, the author of , tells Bustle, but this theme will be right on point for Valentine's Day. Eat Cake Naked
foods that are aphrodisiacs — aka, foods that put you in the mood — like watermelon, that bar of dark chocolate you have hiding in a cabinet, or even asparagus, avocado, strawberries, or pomegranate. Then figure out ways to incorporate an ingredient or two into a dish.
Even if you don't get turned on by the strawberry, Reiley says cooking together will still be hot.
3 Fill Out Old-School Valentine's Day Cards
If you want an adorable way to surprise your partner on Valentine's Day morning, just take a walk down memory lane — aka the CVS aisle with all the kids' Valentine's cards. You know, the cute ones with cartoons that only cost a dollar.
Write sweet littles notes in each one detailing how much you love your partner,
Susan Trombetti, a matchmaker and owner of ExclusiveMatchmaking, tells Bustle. "It will be thoughtful and cute." 4 Play In The Snow
If there's snow on the ground, there's an opportunity for a fun, active, and *free* wintry date. So peek out the window, check for flakes, then start planning.
You could "go sledding, skating, snow tubing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, or simply go on a snow hike or build a snowman together,"
Justin Lavelle, a dating expert, tells Bustle. "The point is you’re together and enjoying some outdoor fun."
(Psst: If you live somewhere warmer, go to a local ice skating rink and have a contest to see who falls down the least. Or, you know, the park.)
5 Recreate Your First Date
If you want to get creative without
really getting creative this V-Day, pull the ultimate romantic move and re-do your very first date. Try to remember the movie you watched, the drinks you had, or the song that was playing on repeat in the background. Set the scene, and revel in the blast to the past. 6 Have An Indoor Picnic
If your idea of a perfect date consists of lying on a blanket with your partner while you sip wine and eat an array of snacks, then plan an indoor (or outdoor, weather permitting) picnic this V-Day.
"Make a picnic-type lunch or dinner complete with a picnic basket and blanket," Lavelle says, then sprawl out on your living room floor and enjoy.
"No matter what," he says, "it will make for an interesting and inexpensive date — and you won’t get any bug bites."
7 Create Your Own Mixed Drink
Want another way to use what you already have at home? Look through your alcohol collection and see about mixing up a signature drink. It'll be a fun way to feel creative and, if you take sips along the way, even get a bit giggly in the process. When you find a combo you like, give the drink a celebrity couple name — aka, a funny combo of both your names.
8 Snuggle Up For A Romantic Movie Marathon
Sometimes, the most romantic date ideas are the simplest and most classic. The perfect example? Having a movie marathon of all your favorite love stories.
"Create a cozy nook with some pillows, a couple of cozy blankets, your favorite sweets and snacks, and a selection of the most romantic movies from every era," Lavelle says. "Make it a sleepover in front of the TV to go all out."
9 Have A Game Night
If movies aren't really your thing, or you'd rather do something a little more active, having a board game night is both a low-cost (if you own games, that is) and a fun date that's perfect for Valentine's Day.
"A little healthy competition is good for any couple," Lavelle says. "Think Jenga, Scrabble (add in a V-day twist by only allowing sexy or romantic words), and the Newlywed Game."
If all else fails, you can always play a rousing game of sexy Truth or Dare.
10 Go On A Scavenger Hunt
If you're looking to get out of the house — but still social distance, save money, etc. — then set up a scavenger hunt for each other. Write down a list of objects or scenarios to find, then set out on a stroll around your city or park. The first one to find everything on the list wins.
11 Do A Tour Of Your City
To take advantage of what you already have at your fingertips, play tourist for the day and cruise around your city. "Drive by historical sights, visit your favorite neighborhoods, find homes you both love, or swing by your childhood home or the spot of your first date, if possible," Lavelle says.
For an extra touch, make a Spotify playlist featuring all the songs you love as a couple, and play it while you drive. Afterward, end the night, Lavelle says, by treating yourselves to ice cream. For nothing more than the cost of a scoop and a tank of gas, you'll have yourselves a
fun, creative Valentine's Day date. Sources: Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert Amy Reiley, author Susan Trombetti, matchmaker Justin Lavelle, dating expert