In case all the in-your-face displays currently out in every store wasn't enough of a hint, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! Although it’s considered the most romantic holiday, it can sometimes be quite stressful due to the pressure to make it over-the-top year after year. Not all Valentine’s Day dates have to entail popping off to Paris for a weekend getaway, bottles of champagne in hand. Even if you’re on a budget, there’s no reason your night can’t be memorable and romantic for you and your partner (or your friends!).
A romantic dinner reservation is a classic for a reason, but if you’re looking for inspiration on how to step outside the expected, check out some fun date ideas below that don't require a ton of planning or cash to make your Valentine’s Day memorable!
Going out to eat isn’t the only way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Instead of scrambling to make a reservation and blowing a lot of money on a fancy dinner, you can put that money towards a fun activity.
Concert or Local Show: Don’t assume theater or concert tickets are out of your reach just because your budget is tight. Maybe you can’t afford a fancy night at the Kauffman, but you can still have a great time watching a live performance on a smaller scale. Check local listings or tune into your local radio stations to see if there are any deals you can grab. Also check out the events for smaller venues to see what’s playing in February. They’re usually quite cheap, and there’s always the chance you could be seeing the next break-out star. You never know, you may find a new favorite band!
Museum Trip: Many museums & cultural centers will have extended hours for Valentine’s Day, offering exhibits and performances either for free or at a very reasonable price. They sometimes will even have Valentine’s Day specials at their in-house restaurants/cafes.
Get Outdoors: If you’re in the Midwest (or really anywhere North), February usually isn’t the best time for a romantic walk through the park. However, if you know it’s going to be cold, you can be prepared by dressing in layers and sipping on hot chocolate or coffee. Many parks are beautiful even in the winter time, and the cold will keep many people inside so you’ll have the place pretty much to yourself! It is also the perfect time to go ice-skating, and there are many rinks that pop up around the Metro for you to choose from. And if there’s snow, what’s more fun than reliving your childhood by sledding and building a snowman together?!
For many people, that lovely 9-5 job takes most day-date options off the table, so you have no choice but to make it an evening affair. Instead of rushing home from work and hurrying to get changed just to head back out again, why not just have a romantic date night at home?
Movie Night: Unfortunately, going out to the movies isn’t always a budget-friendly option, and on a holiday like Valentine’s Day tickets can be hard to come by. This is exactly why staying in and getting a movie through Redbox or streaming one from your service of choice is a fantastic option. You can choose any movie you like, and instead of paying a fortune at the concession stand, you can have all your favorite snacks & drinks on hand. And the best perk of all- you can snuggle up together on a cozy couch instead of sitting in separate seats!
Game Night: Playing card games or board games together is an inexpensive yet very entertaining way to spend an evening in, especially if you’re hosting a little get-together with other couples or friends. Make it even more fun by doing it pot-luck style- have everyone bring their favorite food dish and their favorite game!
If it’s just the two of you and you want to give your game night a spicy twist, choose a game with a naughty component like strip poker or dirty-word Scrabble.
Top Chef: A fun date night idea is to have your own version of a cooking competition. You can decide on a main course, and each of you use your creativity to prepare it how you see fit. Set a timer, and then have a taste-test at the end to see who prepared the best dish!
If you’re set on going out to dinner, there are ways to go about it without blowing the bank or resorting to eating at McDonald’s. Below are a couple tips on how to save a little extra cash and still have a romantic night out!
Make it a Lunch Date: One alternative to a pricey dinner date is to go out for a less expensive lunch. At many restaurants, the lunch special costs significantly less than dinner but can still be just as romantic.
Just Order Drinks or Dessert: Many bars offer open seating at the bar, and this area often has many openings. Go out for a few fancy cocktails before or after dining in. Alternatively, have your main course at home and then go out just for dessert. This option won’t set you back as much as a full dinner you can still enjoy the fun atmosphere and fancy dessert of a restaurant.
There’s a lot of cultural pressure surrounding Valentine’s Day, but that doesn’t mean you have to let the stress of it take away from what really matters- spending time with the people you love! It’s the thought that matters, not the price tag.
Hope these ideas help you come up with a fun an creative date idea that your loved one (and your wallet) will appreciate!