This Valentine's Happy on the Cheap

I love love and I love Valentine’s Day. Maybe that’s because it’s never been a negative, dread filled day for me – regardless of my romantic status. Growing up, Valentine’s Day was always a family day. My mom bought us Dairy Queen cakes. My uncle brought me flowers. My aunt made heart-shaped pancakes. I made valentines from brightly coloured paper with pastels, pencil crayons and glitter. I wore red or pink clothes – bonus points if I could find something with hearts on it. The theme was always showing each other how much we care without spending a mint, and that’s really the point of Valentine’s Day. I don’t stop celebrating if I’m single or broke and neither should you.

Valentine's Day 2009 - notice the necklace and heart jumper

Living in Toronto as a 20 something (okay, 29 for less than another month), there’s definitely a struggle to keep afloat financially, never mind spending a fortune on Valentine’s Day gifts to show your loved ones you care. (Disclaimer: material things and gifts don’t equate to love). It’s a common theme among us and luckily we have Tiffany Mealia, founder of She’s So Savvy to spread the lovey-dovey, money saving cheer for us. *The second point really mirrors how the day has always been celebrated in my life.*

·         Celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 15th. If you get a kick out of the flowers, chocolates, cards and all that goes with it then celebrate the next day because everything is heavily discounted. “My boyfriend and I celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 15 each year. We avoid the rush, overpriced goods, and make it our own,” says Mealia.
·         Decide your Valentine’s Day is not just for couples. Make Valentine’s Day a celebration of your love of family by doing something together like going to the Zoo, taking advantage of discounted movie night, having games night at home, creating an art project, or cooking a big kid-friendly meal together. No kids? Make Valentine’s Day about your friends or parents. Invite them over for dinner or grab some half priced appetizers at a savvy restaurant location.

·         Make Valentine’s Day about loving yourself. Take one full day to devote to caring and tending to your needs so that you feel invigorated and loved. Have a home spa day, read a great book, organize your living whatever you want to do that day/night. You might call it falling in love with yourself all over again.

·         Share all the love you have with those who need it most. Make Valentine’s Day about loving our neighbours, community, and our world. Head to a shelter to help serve meals, lend a hand at Daily Bread Food Bank, take part in a Habitat for Humanity build. Decide your Valentine’s Day is about saying “I love you” in a way that extends far and impacts lives for the better.

If you feel creative, er, at least feel like hitting “print” and cutting along the dotted lines, download some free Valentine printables. These are my new favourite things lately. I pin them all to one of my Pinterest boards and dream about printing the most gorgeous cards without spending a fortune. I find the happy in printables because they’re free and pretty. There, I said it.

Maybe Valentine’s Day means sweets to you - like bulk candy in adorable plastic bags. Head over to a grocery store, discount store or your favourite variety store down the street and grab gummies for a few cents a piece. Then, wrap a dainty little bow around your package and presto! You’re giving the inexpensive (less than a buck) gift of sugar and sweets to your loved ones.

So you’re real mushy and romantic, eh? You want a blue Tiffany box, three dozen pale pink tea roses, a stay in a plush hotel bed with room service delivered on silver trays? Well, I don’t have a way to make that happen, but I do know that watching my favourite romantic movies in pink jammies with tea and DQ ice cream cake always makes me happy on Valentine’s Day. The Holiday, Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally and Something’s Gotta Give rank high on my list. I’m sure you can find a downloadable version online – no, I don’t support bootleg movies, but I won’t report you to the cops – or a copy at your local movie store for a few bucks.

For more el cheapo ways to bring Cupid into your day: add red food colouring to your milk; use a heart shaped cookie cutter to make your sandwich; make heart shaped pasta with a hearty tomato sauce; sneak a love note into your loved ones’ coat pockets or in between pages in the book they’re reading; watch A Charlie Brown Valentine when it airs on one of the big networks; pick up the phone and call somebody just to say “hi.” Don’t text, email or IM. Make a legitimate phone call – especially if you want to wish your less techie loved ones a happy Valentine’s Day.

Here’s the deal, Valentine’s will be a happy and wonderful day if you want it to be. Make it special for yourself and loved ones while living within your means.

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