8 Great V-Day Gestures

Cute, creative ideas—for him and for her—that show your affection…and don’t empty your wallet, either.

By Elsa K. Simcik

oes spending a lot of money on your special someone for Valentine’s Day prove your love? Well, it can’t hurt.

But if student loans, your heating oil bill, or a Texas Hold ’Em addiction has your funds tied up, you’re going to have to find a way to say “I love you” on a budget. And with that, we can help you with these ideas for little gifts and sweet gestures that are destined to impress.

Gifts for her that make you look deep, not cheap
Fellas, all you have to remember is that girls like gifts that you put a lot of thought into. Here, ways to show her that you went to a lot of trouble (without depleting your savings).

Make her hunt for it: Girls love scavenger hunts. Don’t ask why; just get a few inexpensive items, hide them all over your house and come up with some clever clues. “The final clue led my
Send flowers to the office—where everyone else can see them.
girlfriend to a teddy bear on the bed,” says Matt Nelson of Dallas, “She started squealing. I don’t think that would have happened if I had just handed her the teddy bear.”

Don’t forget flowers: Sure, flowers have shorter life spans than bugs. But because she knows that you know they’re silly, it means even more when you give them to her. Get it? But since you’re on a budget, don’t bother with delivery. Take them to her yourself—preferably at her office where everyone can see. It’s more personal and you just saved about $10.

Stay in: Are Valentine’s Day restaurant dates really that romantic? You’re surrounded by other couples, all there for the same reason. Why not invite her to your place for dinner? Call your mom for an easy recipe, grab an inexpensive bottle of wine, light a few candles and you’re ready to go. Plus, you can eat at a normal time instead of having to settle for an 11 p.m. reservation.

Mix it up: When it doubt, make a mixed tape. Or, if you live in this century, a compilation CD. Joy Bitonio of North Hollywood says, “My boyfriend created a dedication CD in honor of me, and I absolutely loved the thoughtfulness and time put into the gift.” See that? You can’t lose!

Gifts that will make him rave while you save
Girls, we’re lucky. Guys aren’t as picky about V-day gifts as we are. So the good news is you can show him you care without having to sell your purse collection on eBay.

Clip coupons: Come on, we all know what your guy would really appreciate on Valentine ’s Day. But why not make it fun? Angela Gumpter of New York City says, “I made a cute coupon
Warning: Don’t fry anything. Too much splattering.
book for my boyfriend with different options like 30-minute massage, breakfast in bed and me cooking while wearing my nightie.” (Warning: Don’t fry anything. Too much splattering.)

Bake off: What you make doesn’t matter—cookies, brownies a three-layer cake. You could even buy cookies, warm ‘em up and serve them on a heart-shaped platter. He’s a guy. He’ll eat anything. And what’s that old saying about a way to a man’s heart?

Go with the video: Guys prefer electronics but they’ll be just as thrilled with something that compliments their gadgets. Get him a DVD of his favorite movie—you know, some action/adventure one that you vetoed at the video store. Poor guy deserves it after sitting through The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Play it practical: Although you may sob at the site of an electric toothbrush as a V-day gift, your man probably doesn’t mind useful presents. You could even do practical and playful and get him some cute boxer shorts. “I love the idea that my girlfriend picked out my underwear!” admits Steve Ehrenfeld of Phoenix.

Being frugal may mean that you have to put in some effort. But hey, at least you can be sure your Valentine’s Day gift won’t end up as the punch line for anecdotes at parties: “No, I win. I have the worst Valentine’s Gift story!” A Valentine’s Day where you save money and save yourself from embarrassment? Sounds like true love.

Elsa K. Simcik is a freelance writer in Atlanta. Her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Dallas Morning News, Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine and
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