Whether you’re hot and heavy in a relationship, or dating yourself and hanging with your best girlfriends this V-day, the Hallmark holiday can get pricey and sometimes stale. That’s why I wanted to gather all of my favorite thrifty ideas for enjoying this Valentine’s Day in a way that might also actually add value to your relationship. Because… sorry, roses ain’t gonna cut it with this sassy broad.

1. Hand-Written and Hand-Crafted Cards

I do this for almost all holiday/thank you/greeting cards. I create my own—not only is it so much cheaper (how in the heck are cards 3-5 dollars these days for Pete’s sake?!) it also adds a tone of sentimental value because you went through the effort to hand-make your card. In addition, I actually write my own words in the card so you don’t have to default to the “roses are red…” cheesy poems and tell ‘em how you really feel!

2. Give on their behalf

Donating on behalf of someone can be extremely meaningful for your Sig O and yourself, especially if you have an aligned charity that you both support. It might not be a mega-money saving gift idea upfront, but don’t discount that you can write it off on your taxes. That’s right, you can give and receive this Valentine’s Day, in the name of love.

3. Cook a Meal Together

Fact: My number four goal in life (I can't disclose the others) is to go romantically grocery shopping at Whole Foods with my Sig O, wine in hand, strolling the isles for the rigatoni and kaiserfleisch (which, according to Wikipedia, is a smoked pork, sprinkled with grated horseradish and served with sauerkraut) that we will cook ourselves, in our own kitchens, every. single. week.

Fact numero dos: This isn’t actually reality. Because Whole Food is expensive, and ain’t nobody got time for all that! HOWEVER, I can vouch for it to happen on Valentine’s Day because… it’s a special day, and still cheaper than a romantic restaurant meal, so why not?

Not to mention, cooking a meal and eating together is proven to be extremely intimate. It’s part of human nature and creates a significant bond between those who feed and eat together. Also, it’s not just for romantic relationships. So it’s totally kosher to cozy up in the kitch with your gal pals. This study proves the power of cooking and eating together for colleagues in the workplace (well… firefighters, sexy firefighters to be exact) and speaks to the intimacy of it all.

4. Workout Together

Misery loves company. Emphasis on the love. But really, if you don’t typically get your sweat on with your boo, this could take your relationship to the next level. Challenge each other, laugh at each other, and get physical. I’m willing to bet one of you has a gym membership or you can find a place to do fitness for an hour on the cheap. Go for a run, shoot some hoops, take a Zumba class, just get out of your comfort zone, together. And if you already workout with your better-half, you know what I’m talking about when I say that it really is a fantastic way to start a date night.

5. Go to a coffeehouse and actually stay

Even if you don’t like coffee, most places have tea, or hot chocolate, or even beer. This is an opportunity to spend time together and have an intriguing conversation. Need some help with what to discuss? Pick up a paper or magazine that’s probably splayed about the coffee shop. Or use conversation starters from the interwebs. It seems like a simple and goofy “date” but I promise you, it will be a special and valuable time that you spend together—sometimes it really is the simple things in life.

6. Volunteer Together

I’m starting to put a lot of pressure on myself to have an awesome Valentine’s Day and be a good person. Volunteering for a cause you both share a passion will take your relationship from meh to swooning. Not only do you get to provide your time and energy to others in need, but you also get to spend the entire day with the person you have red-emoji-heart-eyes for at little to no monetary cost to you.

7. Museum + Movie Mashup

Maybe this is a little too nerdy for the big V-day, but I find this so endearing. Lots of museums are free and renting movies is cheap (as long as you remember to bring them back). I totally love the idea of finding a movie that relates to an artifact within or takes place in a museum you live near. Watch the movie then go to the museum, or vice versa. I don’t care what order you choose, it’s your love!

8. Go Thrifting, Together, For Each Other

Whether you actually find something serious to sport on your body or your walls, or you pick the most horrific costumes for each other to try on, thrifting is fun, sometimes smelly, but always full of laughs. You can choose to exchange your thrift store gifts, or just use this as a free activity. Regardless, it will be a blast and a half. Plus, what’s sexier than a #TBT Star Wars t-shirt? You and your Sig-O in matching #TBT Star Wars t-shirts, that’s what!

9. Take a class and learn something applicable

Here’s another suggestion that might not be the cheapest now, but that’s where Groupon comes in, and the slim chance that you attend that coffee-making class, then lose your job, then become a barista and blow everyone away with how much you already know about coffee without any experience?! You can point to V-Day 2016 with a grin. Also, learning new things is ultimate bondworthiness for you and your favorite people.

10. Get Fisical

Grab your 2 Buck Chuck (cheap wine) or go ahead and pair this with your coffeehouse date, break out my girl, Michelle Bobrow’s Fiscal Foreplay, and get down and dirty with those finances. You may be thinking, “this is not the least bit romantic,” but maybe actually having this conversation will add an extra layer of depth to your relationship. It’s not an easy conversation to have, so wait until you’re ready, but don’t wait too long. The toughest conversations are generally the most rewarding in the end. Oh, and did I mention that this is free? (2 Buck Chuck not included). 

There ya have it folks. A list of 10 of my best brain-produced frugal Valentine’s date ideas for you and your boyf, girlf, Sig-O, BFFs, dogs, cats, parents, whoever you so choose to spend your special candy-hearts day with.

I hope you find that at least one of these helps you save those dollars and actually furthers your relationships this year. Heck, do all of them! You don’t need a special day for these. Send me photographic evidence of the ones you tested out on Twitter or Instagram, I’m @tess_wicks. I'll write back and show you what I did last weekend when my boyfriend and I celebrated (I know, we're a week off). Hint: it has something to do with me making his favorite food, slicing my finger tip open, and bleeding all over the finished dish.