Share Your Non-Consumer Valentine Ideas!

by Katy on February 12, 2013 · 31 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published blog post. Enjoy!

McDonald's Valentine


Valentines day is just around the corner, and with it comes opportunities for thoughtful gestures of love and friendship.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a special home cooked meal and a handmade valentine. In fact, it’s actually preferable. Valentines day is a great opportunity for exhibiting your creative talents, however hidden they may be.

Unsure about making your own valentine? I have my kids draw one special picture, which we scan into the computer and then print out as many copies as we need. My husband and I have made elaborate valentines for each other in years past, but we kind of have been forgetting lately, (which is actually fine with me,) as I like to think we express our love year round.

Whatever you do, just say no to the movie and television theme valentine packs, which are meaningless and teach our kids brand recognition at an early age.

What about the food?

You don’t need to spend the evening in an overpriced swanky restaurant. Put away the phone and dust off a cookbook, or at least Making a nice dinner for the people you love is an extremely pure way to express your feelings. Of course eating a meal prepared by someone who loves you isn’t half-bad either.

C’mon fellow Non-Consumers, I want to hear your Valentine’s Day ideas!

Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Cheapchick February 12, 2013 at 10:47 am

We eat with candlelight every single dinner (keeping in mind there are no longer kids at home). We celebrate year round instead of on Valentines Day. Hubby gave me a totally unexpected mushy card for New Years Eve this year which was kind of cool. I would NEVER try to go out for dinner on Valentines day. We try and go out once per month for dinner as a date instead (that is all we eat out except when hubby is on the road for business and that gets reimbursed by his clients). We recently moved to our town so are trying out different restaurants each month. This month it is Greek.


kate@organizationforthetypb February 12, 2013 at 10:54 am

I really like your idea of scanning your child’s artwork to make cards. I think we will do that this year.


Maureen February 12, 2013 at 11:26 am

It wasn’t as frugal as I would have liked because the chocolate I chose was a little pricy, but I did get it on sale. I made friends and my hubby peanut butter cookies with chocolate hearts in the middle. Think hershey kisses, but instead of the kisses, I used heart shaped candy. And yes I did use Dove chocolates as I don’t like the cheap heart shaped chocolates. Everyone — especially hubby — enjoyed them.


David February 12, 2013 at 11:33 am

When my girls were little, I always baked a cake in the shape of a heart. I used one square cake pan and one round cake pan. Cut the round cake in half, put these semicircles on adjacent sides of the square cake, and voila (French for “this is a cheap”) you have a heart shaped cake. I usually frosted it with pink frosting. Toss on some sprinkles or candies and you are ready to go. We made our valentines for each other (and the dog) from craft stuff around the house and celebrated quite simply. Katy, I couldn’t agree more about the Sponge Bob, Cars 2, etc. store Valentines. This makes me more queasy than the crass commercialism of Christmas for some odd reason.


Lynne February 13, 2013 at 6:21 am

David, we make a cake like this, too, and it’s one of our favorite traditions! I make a strawberry cake with strawberry cream cheese icing, and we have it at the Valentine’s lunch we host for both sets of grandparents (another tradition). This year we found some cool, free printable Valentines on the internet and the kids cut those out, attached them to cardstock and added a little ribbon. Finally, we make homemade peanut butter cups (using Ashley’s recipe on Small Measure) to give to teachers, neighbors, etc. I really try to emphasize to my kids that this holiday is a great opportunity to do something for others that makes them feel special.


kris February 12, 2013 at 11:34 am

I’m making heart shaped french toast for breakfast ~ my little guy will get a heart shaped sandwich in his lunch. And for dinner I’m making Chicken Parm, which is a family favorite. For dessert, I’m making cupcakes (using valentine themed cups) and I bought a 1/2 doz. choc. covered strawberries from a girl here at work that sells them trying to raise money so her & her husband can adopt a baby.


Rachel February 12, 2013 at 11:38 am

Last year my boyfriend made me a youtube video of pictures of us to music. It was very sweet, but also funny because I used an online deal I found to get a photo book of pictures of us printed and sent for the cost of shipping. So we basically had the same idea. We really enjoyed both though.

This year we are planning to make our favorite meal at home, and I made a home made card based loosely off one I saw on pinterest. I printed a quote on the inside and wrote some of my favorite memories of us over the past year on the other inside flap. I’d like to think of a gift to make for him this year, but I’m still thinking on it. I haven’t come up with anything yet….. come on fellow commentors, inspiration please. 🙂


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary February 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Well, this is not exactly non-consumer, but it is fairly frugal at $20.

A friend of mine received one of these as a family gift and is raving about it. You choose a movie genre (comedy, love, thriller, whatever), and they send you four movie shorts on a DVD. You watch the DVD as though you are the judges in a movie festival, then you go online to register your votes for “best picture,” “best performance,” etc. I guess you can also answer trivia questions and so on. There are packages for families (12 and up) and packages for adults only. It sounded like a fun twist on movie night, and something you could choose for a family event or just adults.

Anyway, I am not affiliated with the product (haven’t even tried it myself, so I can’t actually vouch for it) but I thought it sounded fun. Also, since my husband is really into movies, well, obviously it caught my eye.


tna February 12, 2013 at 1:12 pm

“Whatever you do, just say no to the movie and television theme valentine packs, which are meaningless and teach our kids brand recognition at an early age.”

I’ve never heard of these, but if people want to dress up like disney characters and go out to eat what’s the big deal. Valentines day is brand recognition itself. 3 saints might be the one the day is named for and they are also saints of bee keepers and the plague. Also before any of the 3 Valentine guys existed, people thought of it as a day of love because birds supposedly pair up and mate in the middle of February.
That may be true because I’ve noticed geese pairing off all over the place this last week and other birds looking for nooks and crannys to build a nest.
So give a bird some seeds or grain and call it a day.
But I do like chocolate covered marshmallow hearts any day of the year bird love or not. *tweet*


Megg February 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Last year my husband got me an apron I’d been eying at Target ($12) and I got him some loose leaf tea from my trip to Disneyland ($8). We’re big spenders. He had class so we didn’t go out or anything, though I think he brought me home some flowers.
This year I told him not to get me flowers (they die anyway) and I don’t think we’re exchanging gifts (I hope not, considering I didn’t get him anything!)
We’re planning on going out this weekend, just as a regular date night, not specifically for Valentine’s Day. It really isn’t that big a deal to us!


Kim February 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm

We don’t spend a lot for Valentine’s Day. I bought the ingredients to make these for breakfast:
I may make these too, since it looks easy: We may go out to a local mediterranean cafe but it’s not very expensive, usually costs about $20. I’d rather spend money on fun things to eat than anything else.


That Other Jean February 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Instead of candy, flowers, or gifts, we’re getting the weekday lunch special as take-0ut at a pretty good sushi restaurant near home. At about $25, it’s an inexpensive, and very tasty, way to celebrate Valentine’s Day–without bringing home more stuff to clutter up the house.


Jen February 12, 2013 at 5:35 pm

I’m planning to make chocolate cupcakes (or maybe a cookie cake) and chocolate mousse (all recipes from for my husband (and his co-workers….we never need all that dessert in the house!) and give him a card I’ve been hoarding that says “I love you s’more everyday and has….a s’more on it [we like our puns!] I have a dentist appt that evening so nothing special for dinner.

My kindergarten kiddos are getting valentine cards I made in word that say “You have the write stuff!” and have a pencil with changeable tips attached to it.


AnnW February 12, 2013 at 7:15 pm

I am giving valentines that are dollar bills folded in the shape of a heart. I saw them on Pinterest.


Heather February 12, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Chocolate fondue is easy and inexpensive to do at home as a special romantic treat. Melt good quality chocolate chips (Ghiradelli are good and reasonably priced @ my grocery store) + a little milk (almond/soy works fine) + a little butter (if you like). Put together a little spread of fruit, pound cake, marshmallows, etc. for dipping. mmmmm…luxury!


Amy February 12, 2013 at 8:12 pm

I’m pregnant and craving chocolate like a mad woman. My husband asked if I’d like a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. I must have looked at him with crazy eyes, because he quickly added, “you know, a week after Valentine’s Day, from the 90% off bin.” That comment alone made my Valentine’s Day!


Katy February 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Crazy pregnant chocolate craving eyes scare me too.



Katy @ Purposely Frugal February 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm

I usually like to make my hubby a special meal. My Mom often does a red meal. One V-day I made heart shaped pizzas. This year it’ll be venison steaks that we got for free! 🙂
I actually just made a post about having cheaper v-day date that goes right along this topic!


JD February 13, 2013 at 6:22 am

We don’t really do anything for Valentine’s Day — my husband and I just don’t get too mushy, but when my kids were in school, instead of buying those silly little cardboard valentines to exchange, I bent a canning jar ring into a heart shape with pliers (didn’t own a heart cookie cutter), made sugar cookie dough, cut out the hearts with my “cutter” and iced them in pink homemade icing. I wrapped them up in plastic wrap, tied a bow of red curling ribbon to hold it shut, and made paper tags out of plain paper for my kids to sign, which we then hole-punched and tied on with the ribbon. I always had all the ingredients and supplies already in the house to make these, and they were a hit with classmates. I still have that heart shaped canning ring, come to think of it. Might have to break it out this year and make some cookies!


Amanda February 13, 2013 at 6:55 am

If there is one thing in the world that I hate more than spending money it is waiting in line to spend money. Dinner and a movie is a very rare treat for us that we love, but you couldn’t pay me to fight the Valentine’s crowds. We (along with our two year old) will be making clam sauce pasta and red velvet cupcakes at home. I can’t wait!


Diane February 13, 2013 at 6:57 am

Making homemade heart cookies for my young professional and cards for little ones. Somehow, though, Valentine’s Day always seem to get mixed up with Mardi Gras in February!


Rebecca February 13, 2013 at 7:13 am

The Kids and I made about 75 cake pops to give as valentines at school this year, my daughter’s idea. Since I like kitchen crafts, it was fun.

We don’t do much at home for V day, we have two birthdays sandwiching the 14th, one boy on the 8th and another on the 18th so we have plenty of cake and treats in Feb anyways.


alexandra February 13, 2013 at 7:14 am

I suggested to my husband that instead of flowers, candy and a restaurant meal (which we wouldn’t have done anyway, being super frugal) we put $50 in our savings account. His reply was, “where we gonna eat, McDonalds?” so we are putting $100 in our account and both feel VERY happy about this “treat”.


Nicole February 13, 2013 at 7:26 am

My hubby and I don’t really do anything for Valentine’s Day. We both agree that it’s a generic Hallmark holiday with no real meaning for us, designed to get people to spend gobs of money. We celebrate our anniversary in October, because that day DOES hold significance for us. And we say and show our love every day (that also goes for my family and friends when I see/talk to them)! I’ll probably still post a funny/cute/dorky Valentine to his Facebook wall though 😛


Stephanie February 13, 2013 at 7:26 am

We also do not exchange gifts for Valentine’s Day. We usually rent a movie and make a nice dinner at home. This year, I have a surprise for my husband. I’m going to sneak to his office after work (with the help of one of his co-workers). I cut out 30 hearts, and on each one is a different reason why I love him. I’m going to place them ALL OVER his office and make him hunt for them.


Stephanie February 13, 2013 at 8:53 am

This year for my husband’s gift I made him a card with a “coupon” for a car wash/detail! I’m going to vacuum and wash his car, dust and polish the dash, windex the inside of the windows, and use break dust remover on the hubcaps! I think it will be a nice treat for him and it was something I could do myself for almost free! 😀


lisa February 13, 2013 at 9:09 am

My sister-in-law’s parents have a very sweet tradition. On their first Valentine’s Day, they were poor students. He gave her the only chocolate he could afford: a Hershey’s bar. That became his gift to her every year, and she loves it. When my brother told me the story, he shook his head and said, “That man is a genius.”


Annie February 13, 2013 at 10:08 am

My husband makes the best roast chicken I have ever tasted and that’s what he offered to make. In the meantime he got a gig as a freelancer that will keep him too busy to cook on Valentine’s Day. Instead we are going to a great deli in NYC to have hotdogs after he gets off work. He apologized for not being able to cook for me or take me out for steak, but I don’t care where we go, or what we eat, as long as we share some time together that day. I did buy him a Reese’s Peanut Butter Heart since they are his favorite, but I shopped early when they were on sale, two for the price of one so we could each have our own!


Jenny February 13, 2013 at 10:52 am

For special occasions like Valentine’s, we usually just cook a nicer dinner than usual and I’ll whip up a special baked dessert. I learned in younger days that hunting for a restaurant with less than a 2 hour wait on Valentine’s Day was not the way to spend the evening. We do exchange gifts, but they’re never expensive. This is the first year my 3 year old is getting into Holidays, so I also got him a gift. Our anniversary is only a month away, so I don’t mind sharing Valentine’s Day with the little ones. I don’t know what I’ll do when the kid has to exchange Valentines with classmates, but I’m sure it will be inexpensive. I have no interest in spending a ton of money (or effort) on gifts that are likely to be thrown out within a week.


lindsey February 14, 2013 at 11:34 am

For V.D. I make my husband his favorite meal, which I loathe so I eat an omelet, and he makes me Nutella mousse for dessert. Which he loathes so he just has coffee and watches me enjoy!


Betty Winslow March 13, 2013 at 8:38 am

Since our anniversary (41 yrs and counting, on Jan 22) and my birthday are both within weeks of Valentine’s Day and we both agree that showing love throughout the year is better than waiting for a couple of special days, we usually only exchange a small box of chocolate or a chocolate bar and call it a day. When the kids were at home, I gave them each a card and Mark bought each of them a small chocolate heart box of candy. The most poignant V. Day memory is the one the year after our oldest daughter, who was 21, was killed in a freak car wreck, and I went out to the cemetery with flowers and found a small red and white teddy bear on the headstone, which I later discovered came from her dad…..


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