1. Invent a signature drink for your sweetheart. Is he of Russian descent? Perhaps the drink should contain Russian vodka in his honor. Does she hail from Florida? Maybe the drink should be made with fresh-squeezed oranges instead. Are you dating a redhead? Consider having ginger be one of the prominent drink flavors. For added fun and hijinks, print up the recipe on cardstock so that your loved one can order the libation with ease at restaurants and bars. Be sure to put some personality into that recipe card. For example, “One shot of fresh-squeezed orange juice from your sunny home state” sounds more eloquent than “Just add o.j.” Then call the elixir by your honey’s name. If you want to be more creative than that, be sure to research drink names in advance. Hint: You’d never want to call your drink an “Arnold Palmer,” a “Bloody Caesar,” or a “Virgin Mary”—because those names are already taken!
2. Get inventive with the I.O.U.s. These ingenious notes can save you a small fortune or even a large one. Instead of running around like a chicken with her head cut off to find the perfect present for your paramour, take a half an afternoon to design a pretty I.O.U. certificate on your computer for “one free home-cooked meal.” Then fill in his name, print out the document, wrap it with a ribbon (that came straight from another gift), and you’re done. It costs almost as little to feed two as one, and as Cupid will attest, the quickest way to a man’s heart is (still) through his stomach.
What if you’re trying to get your special guy or gal to lose weight? Then write an I.O.U. for a free backrub or other noncaloric pleasure. Whatever the promissory message, it should be for something that you know your love interest greatly enjoys but doesn’t have the chance to experience nearly often enough.
3. Name a star. It's a symbolic gesture that has little to do with science but much to do with love and affection. And it can add a real bright spot to your relationship. Call a star after a girlfriend, boyfriend, or even “just a friend” for under $15. Every time that special person in your life stares up at the heavens, he or she will be sure to think of you fondly. Go stargazing for less at Starnamer.
4. Shop your closet. “Love consists of desiring to give what is our own to another and feeling his delight as our own,” Emanuel Swedenborg wrote. Passing on something that was yours to someone you cherish is not merely about the value of the item itself. Hopefully, the gesture will also stoke an emotion, and you’ll have a chance to see your own joy reflected back in the recipient’s face.
When you bequeath an item that you already own, it’s important to explain why you are giving it to your loved one. (If the object happens to tie back to a treasured collection, that’s a valid reason.) In terms of explanations, “My great aunt used to collect miniature camels, and I know you collect them as well, so I am passing this adorable one onto you” should suffice. Please note: Never relinquish something that you can’t live without should the relationship combust. You probably won’t get it back, so be sure to give it with goodwill—the same way you would any other gift devoid of sentimental attachment.
5. The gift that shows what you would give if money were no object. Five years into your relationship is your dream of spending “April in Paris” together still just a dream? Show her that you haven’t forgotten with a destination charm. A company called latitude longitude™ charms and jewelry will print out the exact coordinates of your fantasy location on a sterling silver stamped tag. You’ll get all the credit for taking her there—at a fraction of the cost.
You can also “travel” to Tiffany’s to purchase charms that suggest exotic locations of course, but beware: prices have spiked to the point where you may be able to afford a short trip for less! Sometimes it’s important to think outside the little turquoise box.
6. Say it with music. When love is in the air, why not pretend that you’re an on-air personality and burn a CD of the tunes that remind you of your sweetheart? If you have been dating for over a year, the songs might hearken back to the night you met. Or the CD might include the melody that played when you first kissed. Sweet dreams are made of this.
7. Something, anything, in her or his color. Some women look dashing in pink. Some guys look fetching in emerald green. When you know your lover’s favorite color and then buy a present in the precise shade, it shows an extra degree of thought. These gifts needn’t be costly. Scarves, hats, and gloves in every color of the rainbow can be purchased for under $10 at your local street vendor’s. Even something as frivolous as a pink pen can bring a smile to the right face—hers. If you wish to be more indulgent, why not spring for a mobile device protector in a stunning color or a “GelaSkin” protector for any of his or her myriad electronic devices.
8. A message in a bottle. Do you feel like Shakespeare in love but just need a little help writing the poetry? For about $100 less than a bottle of perfume you can give your love interest something permanent, creative, and emotionally stirring. An online company called Timeless Message will help you select a limited edition antique bottle and even craft a message for you if need be. What if you actually are the next Shakespeare or the second coming of Hallmark? Have no fear! It’s easy to write your own sentiment (and not be dependent on the sentimentality of others). A third option to consider: borrow something apt from Robert Burns or the canon of other timeless Romantics and put that message in the bottle instead.
9. Something a tiny bit Bohemian. I once ate chocolate spaghetti. It wasn’t the finest meal I had ever sampled, but it was so over-the-top that I savored it anyway. (If you’re giving chocolate pasta as a gift, be sure to find a recipe that you actually want to try. There are several online.) Or purchase some chocolate-covered strawberries.
Speaking of “dipping,” skinny-dipping with your significant other is a sublime way to pass Valentine’s Day should you both find yourselves in a warm climate over the holiday. But even if you don’t, sharing a shower or taking a bath together can be a sensuous way to turn up the heat.
If you have just started dating, Valentine’s Day is a built-in opportunity to move your relationship forward by mutually exploring a new level of intimacy. On the other hand, if you have been dating or married for a while, Valentine’s Day presents the perfect chance to rekindle the romance and remember why you fell in love in the first place. No matter what you spend on your significant other this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to say, “I love you.”
For more pointers on saving money during these tough economic times, be sure to pick up a copy of Vicky Oliver's new book, The Millionaire's Handbook: How to Look and Act Like a Millionaire Even if You're Not(Skyhorse, November 2011).
About the Author:
Vicky Oliver is the award-winning author of "THE MILLIONAIRE'S HANDBOOK: How to Look and Act Like a Millionaire, Even If You're Not" (Skyhorse Publishing, November 2011) plus four books on career development, including the bestselling 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks, 2005) and 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions (Skyhorse Publishing, 2010).
Disclosure: I did not receive any products nor was paid for this post. I was provided info from the PR firm to share. Any expressed opinions are my own and personal thoughts. No other compensation was given.