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9 frugal Valentine’s Day gift ideas

Ah, Valentine’s Day. Some of us loathe the candy-coated day, others of us thrill at the thought of a day devoted to romance, and I suspect most of us fall somewhere right in the middle. The day’s a bit cheesy, but a good excuse to eat chocolate and love on each other? Sounds good to me.

If you go to the usual stores to pick up some V-day goods, you’ll be sugar shocked with more pink and red than your swoony heart can stand. What to get, then, that’s not a total waste?

This past week I asked around on Twitter and Facebook for some good, frugal gift ideas for Valentine’s Day. Here’s what you all had to share. (And feel free to forward this on to your loved one if he might need a hint.)

1. A day off

Busy mamas would love time off. An hour off, a day off, Dad in charge — some form of “I need a break!” was the most popular answer to what would be the ideal Valentine’s Day gift.

What would you do with time off? Several of you mentioned bubble baths, a good book, or a nap. It doesn’t really matter… Mamas crave some time alone, getting recharged.

@noteverstill said, “An hour to myself built into the family schedule once a week or so?”

@CrystalC2B said, “1 hour of me time, without a toddler hanging over the baby gate, or the big kid asking me for something.”

@regandbabe said, “A day off! From start to finish not to be the one to cook or clean or entertain the kids…”

@love_drunk said, “Morning time alone to sit in a coffee shop with book.”

On Facebook, Kiersten Patterson said, “At home while my husband watched the kids so I can have an hour long bubble bath with a book!”

Angie Lilavois said, “A spa day… all at home and given to me by my hubby. he can massage me, run a bubble bath for me, give me a pedicure/manicure… and feed me yummy snacks and drinks made by him and served to me. AH, BLISS!”

Stephanie Barr-Brown said, “A day off…my hubby would let me relax and take of the kids needs for the day :)”

Brystal Michalkiewicz said, “Time in the bathtub alone. No kids outside the door. No crying. Me + bathtub+ reading = perfect Valentines present!”

Alisa Chandler Harris said, “A day without my 10 kids!”

Alisa, I think you probably deserve that.

2. A massage

Photo by sellyourseoul

Mmm… Just the thought of this sounds heavenly. Put the kids down early, and give each other thorough, focused massages. Make it more of an event with mood lighting, good music, and scented candles (Soy Delites are my current favorite).

Teresa Lee Jeremowich Tang said, “A foot massage. my husband gives the best foot massages!”

Kathy Mucher said, “Sleeping in, neck/back massage from husband, and of course, just time with my husband, talking and having fun!”

Noël Julian said, “A nice big massage that didn’t have to lead to sex!” (This comment was also ‘liked’ by eight people.)

3. Mark some items off the honey-do list

It’s practical, but simply getting things done speaks volumes to those of us who value acts of service as an expression of love. Look around the house and find those things you’ve been putting off — and then do them. Make coupons and wrap them in a little box, to make it a bit more special.

@LazyChristian said, “I want coupons for stuff I don’t want to do! Especially cleaning my car. #lookslikeiliveinmycar”

Tabitha Austin Crowley said, “I would love for him to finish a few projects that I’ve bugged him about. That would mean more to me than flowers and chocolates!”

Jennifer Poff Gay said, “A completed to-do list, his or mine.”

Cindra Jo said, “A home made chicken coop from recycled stuffs.”

Anna Skov Nave said, “Honey Do Coupons for work around the house?”

Morgan Muhlhausen said, “For him to haul off the dead Christmas tree sitting in the back yard.”

4. Chocolate and flowers

Photo by el7bara

It may be unoriginal, but it’s a classic for a reason — there aren’t too many people who don’t enjoy chocolate and flowers.

Keep it frugal by keeping it small. A good bar of dark chocolate and a simple bouquet of daisies are some of my favorite things for Kyle to bring home.

@Californiaphile said, “I always love flowers. They brighten my home and don’t add to the clutter.”

@SoyDLitesCandle said, “I love getting flowers! Call me simple…oh, wait.”

Andie Lucas Wade said, “a chocolate bar isn’t very expensive.”

5. A clean house

This was also a popular answer. Who wouldn’t enjoy a clean house without having to actually clean it? This simple (yet tiring) act speaks volumes and barely costs a dime.

@simplicitynlife said, “A night COMPLETELY off from dinner, no dishes, no mess, but still have good food and wake up to clean kitchen the next day.”

@toddlerland_ie said, “I’d love if someone took over the laundry for a week. Washing, drying, airing, folding, putting away.”

@MeaganFrancis said, “A clean kitchen. Free!”

6. A love note

Photo by Sergio

Some people love simply being told, “I love you.” Do it a bit more creatively with a love note — make it a quest to find the note with a scavenger hunt around the house, or maybe jot down the things you love about him or her and hide the notes in unexpected places.

@themommytsunami said, “A love letter.”

@fivehivecom said, “A shoebox containing 5 things to signify the top 5 moments in our lives together.”

Erica Underwood Blair said, “101 reasons why he loves me, now. He did a list when we were engaged. It would be fun to see how 5 years of marriage and 3 kids has changed his perspective.”

Heidi Leonard said, “A hand written love letter or poem or ooo! a SONG!”

Audrey Reed said, “Chocolate dipped strawberries that he made himself and a poem that conveys why he loves me–a real poem, not a roses r red!”

Robyn Kline Windsor said, “A note from my hubby remembering something special we did!”

7. Dinner (or any meal) for two

A meal made by your hubby was the second-most popular response– heaven for many of you would be a night off of cooking and a meal made especially for you. It doesn’t need to be complicated; it just needs to be right up your alley; something you’d enjoy.

@felicakes said, “Breakfast in bed cooked by my husband. It can just be toast and a cup of tea.”

@skyfenix said, “A simple dinner made by my husband, at home, after our kid´s gone to sleep.”

@krissa_swain said, “A candlelit dinner for two and snuggling up for a movie on DVD afterwards.”

@TidyLife said, “I would like my husband to cook me dinner for valentine’s day! (Hint hint, honey… I know you follow me on Twitter.”

Sarah Griffiths Cooper said, “My husband having cooked me dinner when I come home from work, arranged kid care with for the night, and a backrub… I’m sure it could be an arrangement we would both enjoy…”

Elisabeth Tuggle Wood said, “Dinner and a movie… at home!”

Laura Shelley Kinman said, “A love letter and/or homemade breakfast made by him and also cleaned up by him.”

Krista French said, “I’d just love a home-cooked meal made by my husband – I don’t necessarily need any frills for Valentine’s Day, but it would be a nice treat to not cook.”

Jessica Moore said, “Cookies or any kind of dessert.”

8. Something handmade or sentimental

Photo by love_fusion photo

Receiving a gift is nice. Receiving a handmade gift says that the giver took time and creativity to craft something uniquely for the recipient. A framed photo, a craft made with the kids, a box full of date night ideas written on slips of paper — there’s no limit to creative, frugal handmade gift ideas.

@LuckyEliza said, “Anything made by my Valentine. I don’t care if it’s just a simple card with construction paper. Handmade is always more personal.”

Kaylene Carpio said, “One year my hubs made a strawberry body scrub. It worked so well, and he had never done it before. Definitely homemade ideas.”

Aj Nielsen-Osborn said, “An art project from the kids; maybe a photo collage”

Angela Compton said, “Hubby crafted me a new cutting board. Love it!”

9. Quality time

Ultimately, romance happens when you spend time together. Many of you want nothing more than quality time with your loved one.

@homegrown_mom said, “Once we did a picnic, just us, on the grass at our library and then browsed books… heaven!”

@phillipsparx said, “An entire day off, hubs with kids all day – feeds, bathes and puts them to bed, then hires a sitter for a date to Taco Bell and B&N!”

@sheerhousewife said, “Would have to say a relaxing bath together, followed by a massage and then snuggling in our comfy bed.”

@nestingseason said, “A family outing entirely planned by my hubby-down to having kids appropriately dressed, packing snacks and leaving the house clean.”

@jajaptc said, “Getting to sleep in; hubby occupying kids so I have some me time, then a romantic dinner where we don’t talk about kids or money.”

Heidi Johnson said, “Best free gift ever: An evening of dancing. Use music you have or create a Pandora station for the occasion, dress up if you want, and pretend your living room is a grand ballroom (with no one watching to judge your dance moves!). Wait until the kiddos are in bed, or let them dress up and join the fun!”

What’s your love language?

Photo by le vent le cri

I love how different love languages come out in these gift ideas. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, believes that most everyone has one primary way they prefer to be shown love. They are:

  1. Physical touch
  2. Words of affirmation
  3. Acts of service
  4. Quality time
  5. Gifts

Think about your loved ones’ primary love language before you decide on the right gift. Don’t exhaust yourself planning a fancy dinner if your wife would prefer a washed and vacuumed car. If your husband would prefer a back massage and you in a new something-something, don’t assume a three-hour coffee date without talking about the kids will suffice.

Honestly, if you’re like me — all these ideas are great. A little time alone with a book while Kyle straightens up the house with the kids, then an early bedtime for the under-six crowd while we enjoy dinner, a movie, and a massage… Sounds about right.

Ultimately, it’s about knowing your spouse and knowing yourself. Don’t stress over finding the perfect gift — for Valentine’s Day, or any other special celebration. Show the one you love affection and appreciation in the way most appreciated by him or her.

To learn more about yourself, head here to assess your love language.

What are you getting your spouse for Valentine’s Day? What would you like?

Reading Time:

7 minutes





  1. Angela @ Homegrown Mom

    So many great ideas, and thanks for sharing mine 🙂

    We found out about a marriage conference the Fri. before V-day, so we are going to that as our gift to each other!

  2. andie

    now that we know what WE want, what can we do for our hubbies? 🙂

  3. Kathleen Loughran

    I have to agree with Andie. I was reading the list thinking the same thing. Nearly all of the responses were one sided, for us. Better for mother’s day, I think. But valentine’s day is about expressing our love and appreciation to the ones we hold dear. I would love to see a list like this BUT filled with ideas for what I can do for my kids and hubby. Thanks.

  4. Blessing @ Working Mom Journal

    I completely agree with this frugal but generous gifts. My husband is out of town, so I will be sending him a love letter/chocolate.

  5. karen @ our slo house

    *sigh* We haven’t really celebrated valentine’s day since our first year, dating. (That was about 17 years ago.) Of course, my birthday is a few days after V-day, so I let my husband get away with it… but all I’d want for V-day is for him to celebrate it without me reminding him!

  6. Living the Balanced Life

    If you are trying to find something for hubby, read the last part of this post again, about the love languages. We like to be loved in our language. Determine what your husband’s is, and find something that fits with that.
    We were laughing at a family gathering yesterday about a book called P*rn for Women. It has pics of men doing different household chores!
    Thanks for the list Tsh!

  7. Kate

    Good stuff. Gets me inspired.

    I hope you have a wonderful and blessed day!

    – Kate 🙂

  8. Hannah

    LOL about Noel’s comment on FB and all the “likes”! Mine would have been one of them if I’d caught it when you posted it! 🙂

    Great list, Tsh. We all just have to figure out how to get our husbands to read it!

    Tim and I decided years ago that instead of celebrating V-Day with everyone else, we’d hold off a couple of weeks and celebrate the anniversary of our first date. Since our first date was Leap Day, we just have to get as close as we can — usually March 1. The tradition is that he brings me a rose for every year we’ve been together. It’s lovely, as long as I forget he’s going to do it. 🙂

    This year, Caroline (5) really really wants to host a V-Day party, so we’re using the broad and platonic definition of love to bless some friends and neighbors. Here’s a blog post topic for you: How to host a party that’s pretty and fun enough to satisfy your mini Martha Stewart without … being Martha Stewart. 🙂 Or even trying to be!

  9. James

    This green gift will Tickle her fancy.
    I am getting my girlfriend a TickleMe Plant Greenhouse for Valentine’s Day
    With it she can grow the real Plant that moves when you Tickle IT! The leaves instantly fold and even the branches droop when Tickled! Sure beats giving her roses that will just die in a few days. If she loves flowers..let her know that in addition to it moving when she tickles it, it will produce pretty pink cotton candy like flowers. Plus is the only plant that reacts to affection. Dare I say she might be tickled Pink!
    I found it at

  10. lori crawford

    great ideas for him to give me…now how about a list of ideas for me to give him? he’d probably be up for a massage or breakfast in bed, but it might be nice to have some perspective on what his real top 10 best gifts might be…a night out with the guys? having his car detailed? send him to a movie with his best friend?

  11. Alicia

    My husband is easy. I don’t have to buy anything because his favorite gift is something (ahem) personal that’s pretty easy for me to do! 🙂

    I’ve never really cared about Valentines Day for myself. I love chocolate, but hubby gets me chocolates regularly. Same with wine, same with massages, same with sweet words. He’ll probably get me flowers but I really don’t care if it’s nothing. It’s the rest of the year that really counts!

    That sounds really cheesy and annoying doesn’t it? LOL Ah well! I hope everybody has a Happy Valentines Day!

  12. Amy

    Good list. A day off would be so nice. This Valentine’s I’m going to recreate the dinner I made for him 5 years ago when he proposed 🙂 Filet mignon, yukon gold mashed potatoes with asiago cheese, gingered carrots, and creme brulee.

  13. Jackie

    This Valentines Day I’m going to cook a special dinner for my hubby, complete with champagne and candles, chocolates and after dinner delights! 🙂
    He works really long hours as a chef and I know cooking a meal for him is the gift he appreciates the most!

  14. Vina

    Great list…except for chocolates and flowers bit. Most chocolates are loaded with sugar and crap. Please make sure you get fair trade ones!

  15. Daisy

    A day off everything would be nice. No phone, no mail. Just me somewhere on a desert island…staring at the ocean, enjoying the sun. Just for a day..

  16. Andrea

    great list! I’m looking for a day off, a massage and the vent on my stove fixed!

  17. Mark @ Fluval filters

    Thanks for the list. Now I just have to decide which one to go with. I like the idea of a personal gift instead of a generic valentines day gift. I might just cook a romantic dinner and surprise her.

  18. Alison @ Femita

    Love these tips. In fact research has shown that little acts of love are much more appreciated than grand (expensive) gestures on Valentine’s Day. I always suggest to give him something that has to do with a hobby or interest of his. It shows that you know him well and he will be thrilled that you genuinely care for his interests.

  19. Jack Smith

    Nice tips. Last Valentine’s day we have spend together in Venice, it was great to be together in an unknown place. Atleast it will help you to know each other better. But for next Valentine’s day I will remember few of your tips, I was just thinking I will be surprising her with a Pandora Ring.

  20. moss mills

    Great ideas. I had a friend who’s husband put together 14 small gifts and gave her one each hour. She was absolutely thrilled!

  21. Tayne your Debt

    Great ideas! All these things are so romantic.. and easy! I hope some last minute romancers see this post and decide to use some of these ideas! I just wrote a post recently on how to do Valentine’s Day on a budget.. I went in a different direction but we defintely have some similar ideas! Hope you have a good Valentine’s Day!

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