Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day is almost here. While some people just believe it is a Hallmark holiday intended to get you to spend money on sappy cards, flowers and sweet treats , many love this holiday (myself included!).
Here are some numbers around the holiday. Over 80% of Canadians intend to spend Valentine’s Day with their significant other and it’s estimated that the average couple will spend over $200 on the holiday.
If your budget falls short of this mark, don’t despair – we’ve done some research to compile a list of some romantic ways to celebrate your love without going into the red.
Ideas for a romantic night on a shoestring
Skating: While some people avoid going outdoors this time of year, skating is the perfect option for those Canadians who like to embrace the cold. Skating gives you a great excuse to hold hands all night with your sweetheart, especially if one of you skates like Bambi and the other like Kurt Browning. Plus, the lights on outdoor rinks can make it feel really romantic. Take along some hot chocolate so you can cuddle and warm up afterwards.
Wine or brewery tour: If you live in a big city or near a wine region, a brewery or winery tour can be a wonderful, low-cost date. Many breweries offer tours that include tastings for free or a nominal charge. Some wineries offer tours with food and wine pairings from as little as $15.
Live music: If you love music, a great option could be to go and watch a local band. Many bars or event spaces have great local talent playing, often with no cover charge. For the price of a drink or two you can have a great night out and maybe even slip onto the dancefloor for a slow number.
Test your skills on the dancefloor: How about combining a Valentine’s gift with a fun, romantic date? Ever thought about trying salsa, the Cha Cha or the Foxtrot? Buy yourself and your loved one a group of dance lessons and groove the night away. Online discount sites like Groupon often offer several weeks of dance classes for as little as $35. Plus, it’s a gift that keeps on giving, with your lessons continuing long after the big night.
DIY Valentine’s Day dates
Having a cozy Valentine’s night at home can be really romantic while keeping your finances on track. You can either surprise your beloved with a home cooked three-course meal or have fun trying out a new recipe together.
You can still dress up as if you were going out to a swanky restaurant, light some candles and enjoy each other’s company without having to make yourselves heard over the noise of a crowded restaurant. Not to mention: you avoid having to pay the bill, tax and gratuity that comes with dining out.
If you aren’t able to channel your inner Martha Stewart, you can simply have an indoor picnic. All you have to do is pick up your favourite selection of antipasto, cheeses, nuts, grapes and a crusty baguette from your local deli, along with your favourite beverage and arrange it all on a blanket on the living room floor.
With all the great movies that have been recently released, a perfect date night could include an old fashioned, romantic movie night. Pick one of your favourite classics or download/stream a movie from a service like Hoopla or Netflix. You can pick between dozens of rom-coms as well as hundreds of classic films and they’re all free with your Hoopla library card or Netflix membership. Make your own popcorn (with as much butter as you would like) and you can replicate the movie night experience for next to nothing.
Another great option is to treat yourselves to a DIY at home spa night. Light some candles, put on some mood music and take turns treating each other to a relaxing, romantic massage. If you need some massage tips, improve your technique by watching YouTube videos, like “21 massage techniques your partner will love.”
Keeping costs down if you absolutely HAVE to dine out…
If a romantic meal out is the only way you want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, there are a few ways to ease the burden on your wallet.
Dining at a restaurant that allows you to bring your own bottle of wine can save you a significant chunk of change. Just make sure the corkage fee isn’t too inflated.
Use a restaurant coupon or online discount site. Companies like WagJag and Groupon offer deals of up to 50% off dinner for two at a wide variety of local restaurants. Just be sure to check the offer is valid on Valentine’s Day.
For the more adventurous, you can treat your loved one to a delicious meal from a food truck. If your memories of mobile restaurants are restricted to hot dogs and fries, think again. Gourmet food trucks are springing up all over the place, dishing out everything from falafel to kimchi, jerk chicken and Chinese dumplings. Search up best food trucks + your city for ones near you.
Host a Valentine’s Day pot luck
Canadians are increasingly looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day with the people they love, not just their significant other. Over half of Canadians plan on celebrating with their whole family.
And with over 12 million single Canadians, wouldn’t it be nice to include your single friends in the celebrations? Perhaps even celebrate Galentine’s Day with your galpals.
By hosting a Valentine’s pot luck, you get to spend the evening with lots of the people that you love. And by having everyone bring a dish and a bottle, you get to keep the costs down and have lots of help with the clean-up.
Keep your heart and wallet filled this Valentine’s Day
This Valentine’s Day, you don’t need to spend a small fortune to have a memorable time. Remember: money can’t buy you love and you don’t need much money to celebrate it either.