My Thoughts on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day seems to be a somewhat controversial holiday, both from a frugal standpoint and from a relational standpoint, and I thought I’d throw my two cents out there. I have a sort of a love/hate relationship with it, so I’ll share my thoughts on that and then tell you what fun things we do to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

What I Hate

I really dislike the way that marketers treat this holiday. If I never see another jewelry ad that basically says, “If you love your wife, you’ll buy her an expensive piece of jewelry.” or “She’ll love you if you spend oodles on jewelry/She’ll hate you if you don’t.” it’ll be too soon.

(I think being nice to your wife year round is a much better way of showing love, by the way!).

It’s not just jewelry either…I’m not a fan of the tons of heart-shaped doodads that fill the stores in January and February.

Oh, and how could I forget the enormous stuffed animals? Because apparently, you can’t just tell someone you love them…you need to buy a giant red teddy bear with “I love you” embroidery.

Love 365

Valentine’s Day comes around once a year, and I don’t at all think that it needs to either make or break a relationship.

What matters in a relationship is the day-to-day relating, not the size of a rose bouquet or the number of diamonds in a necklace.

If a couple treats each other like garbage the rest of the year but goes all out for Valentine’s day, I don’t think that’s a sign of relational health any more than I think that skipping V-day altogether is a sign of poor relational health.

On a related note, I also think that it’s kind of silly for a person (usually women are the ones who do this!) to have a complete melt-down if the significant other forgets Valentine’s Day or doesn’t come through in the way she/he expected.

Really, what matters more? One day, or 364 days?

What We Do

We obviously don’t go all commercial for Valentine’s Day, and neither do we view this day as the only day of the year wherein we must be nice to each other. To us, it’s just a handy excuse to do some fun things.

So what DO we do?

Well, as I mentioned on our menu plan, my husband and I have a tradition of ordering a more-expensive-than-we’d-usually-consider seafood meal for our celebration. We started this on our first Valentine’s Day back in 1996 and have continued ever since. We get to avoid the restaurant crowds and restaurant prices, and we still have a delicious, special meal that I didn’t have to cook.

I’m really jumping ahead of myself, though. The fun of Valentine’s Day around here starts on February 1st, not February 14th.

A number of years ago, I heard a suggestion that I thought my husband would really appreciate, so I gave it a try and he LOVED it. We call it The 14 Days of Valentine’s Day (sort of like the 12 days of Christmas!).

Starting on February 1st and continuing through the 14th, I give my husband a small gift every day. These gifts range from his favorite candy to a homemade dessert to a fun t-shirt to an MP3 download (and some other spicier things that I will not mention!). I repeat some of the ideas from year to year, but I try to throw new things into the mix too.

This year, my husband decided to reciprocate, and I’ve been getting a huge peppermint patty or a chocolate-covered marshmallow heart each day, which has been fun (and tasty!).

We also make cards for each other with handwritten notes inside (I personally think the handwritten note is the best part!).

We don’t leave our kids completely out of the fun…every year, we get them a little box of chocolates, and I also usually make heart-shaped frosted sugar cookies with them (a disastrously messy but fun activity).

And this year, since Valentine’s Day landed on a Sunday, I made heart-shaped pancakes for them at dinnertime by pouring pancake batter into my heart-shaped cookie cutters.


What do you think? Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? If you do, share your frugal ideas in the comments!


  1. WilliamB says

    My attempts to celebrate valentine’s day have ranged from the disasterously funny to the flat-out disasterous. I think the finest example (whether an apex or nadir, you decide) is when my date’s abusive ex convinced the theater that the tickets were for the ex.

    Now I celebrate by cruising the stores for discounted chocolate-covered marshmallows. They weren’t on sale yet yesterday, drat it.

    How do you manage to come up with so many gifts? I have trouble finding two a year for my family.

    • Kristen says

      I think wayyyy ahead of time! lol For example, I bought candy coating pieces on clearance after Halloween because I knew I wanted to make chocolate covered pretzels for my husband. I always try to pay attention to what my husband might like, too, so I have a running list of ideas in my head.

      Another thing that helps is that he is not the sort to go out and buy everything he wants. If he was like that, it’d make this job much more difficult.

  2. Amanda says

    We feel the same way you do. The commercial “must haves” just don’t do it for us. This year we didn’t go out or have any crazy dinners. Our treat was getting ice cream for dessert. This year my husband found a little shop doing special banana splits for a cheap Valentine’s cost. He brought them home and we watched the tube sitting close and consuming our tasty treat. (Since I’m pregnant he had one and I had one. LOL)

    We got a ton of homemade kid cards. The girl child thought it was Valentine’s Day all weekend so we were gifted with candies from her school treat bag at random times.

  3. wendy says

    Yours is a great idea, the 14 day of valentines.
    We have since we have been married, 20 years now, just made a special dinner together. With our girls. They help choose the menu, set the table, decorate, cook and clean. This year the youngest, 14, made our dessert. It was a fabulous treat.
    We love each other all year round, don’t need a card company to tell us when we need to love someone.
    btw, its the 12 days of christmas. ^_^

  4. HeatherS says

    We learned years ago before we were married that Valentine’s Day is just overdone. We stopped going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day after one horrible evening of trying to find a place to eat where the wait wasn’t 2 hours and when we did finally eat we had the worst service of our life. I understood that our server was busy and forgot half our stuff, but the fact that she said no less than three times “Can you believe I have to work on Valentine’s Day??” just killed the mood. We traditionally stay home, put the kids to bed and either order out Chinese or I make a nice meal for the two of us while DH puts the kids to bed. Of course we sometimes do this even when it’s not Valentine’s Day just for an at home date!

    This year my DH gave me the best gift ever – he took care of the house and kids while I was down with bronchitis for a week! Better than jewelry any day!

    • Kristen says

      Yup, we’ve never even tried going out to eat on V-day. We don’t even do our takeout on V-day usually, as it’s too crowded. We do it the day before or the day after V-day instead.

  5. Beth says

    AMEN!! My thoughts exactly. My husband and I do this same thing. We feel that if we can’t show we love each other all year round, what is one day going to do?

  6. Wendy says

    Frugal grey area….my husband went to a few Target’s yesterday morning (his schedule is more flexible than mine right now) to get me 50-60% off candy. Not frugal in that it is an unnecessary expense, but frugal in that we are waiting for it to go on sale.

  7. says

    My husband and I celebrate “Valentimes” (tm 30 Rock). For us, it means we celebrate with a nice dinner on some other night than Valentine’s Day. We tried to go out to dinner on that night a few times, but the restaurants are all so crowded and you have to make reservations weeks in advance, and they usually don’t even have the regular menu — instead it’s a more expensive “fixed” menu, so you can hardly even pick what you eat. This year, we’re celebrating on 2/19 instead, which is a Friday and works better for our schedule. The food will be regular price, on the regular menu, not as crowded, and we can use a gift certificate. If I get ambitious, I might make cupcakes since cake mixes were on sale this week.

  8. says

    I hate the commercialism of Valentine’s Day. Last year we had an “anti-Valentine’s Day” celebration. We cuddled up on the couch and watched a horror movie and a comedy and had hot dogs and nachos for dinner. This year he was deployed.

  9. Bethany says

    I love the idea of 14 days of Valentine’s. I’ll have to remember that when I have a sweetheart.
    Since I do not have a special Valentine honey, I try to use the day to bless others in a special way. I had an open house for the people living in my apartment. We had Chinese food and cookies (the apartment kids requested these as they had had them at my Winter party). I had a bunch of children over to play Wii (while their single parents relaxed, happy to get rid of them for a few hours) and a divorced guy I hadn’t met yet. Those “unattached” from my small group also joined us. It was a ton of fun and a nice way to meet my neighbors who I see almost daily but barely know.

  10. Michelle says

    A great frugal find this year–my daughter was going to a birthday party, so we went shopping for a gift. As we walked past the Valentines display, I noticed that many of the stuffed animals were holding gaudy hearts or other items that could easily be removed by just snipping a few threads. The items were on sale, so I bought a couple of cute stuffed dogs for $2 each, snipped off the gaudy hearts, and her friend was thrilled!

    Dave and I try to go out at some point in February and call it Valentine’s Day, but on the actual day we celebrate it with our kids…nice dinner, fancy dessert, etc. Oh, and we agreed many years ago to skip the cards–too pricy!

  11. says

    I had seen chocolates packages that look like Wii remotes at Cost Plus World market last summer, (I had a coupon for a free tote!) so I went there to buy those for my sons. They no longer had those, but I did buy three nice Lindt brand chocolate bars and a box of conversation hearts for each of my sons. I then hot glue gunned these to construction paper hearts that I wrote “Happy Valentines Day” on. I also bought a “Starbucks” bear (which he collects) for one son at Goodwill for $2 and gave the other $2 in cash. (Which he collect ;-) )

    In all, I spent $8.50 for candy, cards and gifts.

    Most important though, my husband shared his chocolate bar with me.

    And dinner? Very simple.

    Katy Wolk-Stanley
    The Non-Consumer Advocate

  12. says

    We celebrate Valentine’s Day in a pretty simple way-a small gift-usually less than $10 to one another and a small gift to each of the children such as a $2 box of candy. I’m a big believer that *any* holiday is as commercial as you let it be.

    Interestingly, I was at Walmart this morning and was astounded by the huge amount of V-day leftovers. It didn’t even look like the aisles has been touched by customers. Not much was on sale either. I wonder how sales were this year compared to past years.

  13. says

    I totally agree with your post and am thankful for it! People think I am crazy because for the 5 years I have known my husband we really haven’t done anything for valentines (last year was the first year we were actually in the same place). We might buy a present for each other in February sometime and write each other cards, but that was about it. I remember the first year I was dating him and I was over at a friends house getting ready to go play pick-up soccer with her at our local gym. A friend of her mom and my mom stopped by and was completely annoyed and upset that I wasn’t spending the day with my boyfriend. ha. We are happily married now and I don’t think it hurt either of us to miss a few valentine days.

    I am so thankful my husband is low key like me. We have a great time celebrating our love for each other all the time. I just love being married. I like the random little things that he does for me, like unloaded the dishwasher or putting away the clothes while I am in the shower. :) And I totally agree that a relationship isn’t good or bad whether you celebrate valentines day. That has always irked me.

  14. says

    Good post. We don’t do anything big for V-day. We certainly don’t try to go out for dinner. This year we did small practical gifts and had a nice dinner and dessert at home. Later we watched a movie from our home library.

  15. says

    I’m with you–what’s the point if you aren’t doing nice things for each other year-round? (I admit, I laughed when you alluded to “spicier things”! That has to be my new favorite phrase). We tend to do very un-romantic things on Valentine’s Day without really meaning to. Last year we were both sick, so we went through the Arby’s drive-through in our pajamas, then came home and watched a depressing movie. This year, we were dealing with a fussy baby (though we did go out for cheap candy).

    • Kristen says

      Well, much of my extended family reads this blog, including my grandmother, so I figured a somewhat vague phrase would be appropriate. lol

  16. Leigh says

    LOL, spicier things!! Kristen, I have to admit I think of you as being the typical “good girl”, love that you can shake up my beliefs!

    I also love the 14 days of Valentines. You might have to trademark that as so many of us are going to be stealing it next year. I’m actually going to put a note in my calendar to remind me to start it.

    This is the first year my husband and I have really thought about doing much for V-day, although it looks like our plans are actually going to happen tomorrow night! When we met the first day we could schedule a date was Valentine’s day. (He didn’t want to wait until later in the week to see me :-) We just considered it Monday until the end of the night when we joked about it. It wasn’t such a big deal then because we had such a great time and were planning our second date. I knew that night I would marry this guy so I wasn’t too concerned about Valentines! This year is the 5 year anniversary of that first date, so we thought it worth at least a dinner without the kids, we too just work it to miss the craziness and rush of actual Valentines celebrators.

    Please post your other wonderful ideas BEFORE the date so we can steal them for this year too!!!

    • Kristen says

      :D We Christians do have a pretty narrow view of where sex belongs, but between two married people, we think almost anything goes, as long as both parties are comfortable with it. So yeah…we can be spicy too. ;) I always think it’s funny how surprised people are when they find this out, because of course, it seems very normal to me!

      That’s very cute that your husband was so impatient to see you. Love that.

      I did mean to post this before Valentine’s Day…I just didn’t get around to it. I’ll try to remind you all next January. lol

  17. says

    I’ve written and taken down Valentine’s Day posts a million times because I don’t know how to write my feelings as eloquently as you have, so kudos! We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, and haven’t since we dated. When he gave me flowers an candies and small pieces of jewelery when we were dating I loved it because I’d never had anyone do that before. I have Spina bifida and my husband was the only person who put aside my disability and loved me for me (other than family of course, and my girl friends), and I never thought I would find that, much less get flowers for Valentine’s Day so it was extremely exciting for a couple of years.

    When we married, we knew we were facing challenges most young couples would never face, God willing because I never wish them on anyone, and I knew how lucky I was. We talked about which holidays we’d celebrate and how we were going to do so, and of course through the years some things change but Valentine’s Day was a day we decided had no real meaning for us because it wasn’t a day we chose nor did it have any religious meaning for us. Celebrating Valentine’s Day was not a way to ensure happiness, as a matter of fact I think it enduces stress for too many people and I find that rather pathetic. We decided our anniversary was our special day that we would celebrate because that is the day that we promised our lives to one another and our marriage to God, and vowed that we’d be together for better or worse. Of course, Michael had no idea how much “for worse” he’d get! Our anniversary, even though I know we celebrate it with millions, isn’t a day that a company says we should celebrate even though there are cards for it, and it has more of our faith behind it than Valentine’s Day.

    Most of the people I used to work with who placed so much emphasis on Valentine’s Day and expected their husbands/boyfriends to do so much for them on that day had relational problems day-to-day. I never understood why so much importance was placed on that day in a bad relationship, and I still don’t. Its like big weddings- the bigger weddings don’t ensure longer marriages.

    I like the idea of doing 14 days of small things for my hsuband though, and I may borrow that for some time during the year, like maybe leading up to our anniversary. My husband deserves it for all he does for me, and I think I would enjoy it!

    I guess I DID just write a small novel. I do that around here and I guess it’s just because I’m comfortable :) Feel free to shorten or delete it as needed, I didn’t mean to take up so much space. That’s why I can’t write these kinds of posts on my own blog- I have a hard time articulating my thoughts and writing shorter posts.

  18. says

    Love the idea of celebrating from the 1st to the 14th. How clever.

    Hubby and I do dinner out a few days either before or after the 14th. We stay home on the holiday; hate the crowds. This year we had Chinese on the 12th; little did we know that the Asian community in our town were celebrating the Chinese New Year. We waited for our table and were unaware of the Chinese holiday until our waitress apologized for the wait due to the holiday. Who knew? Certainly, not us.

    This year we gave each of our girls a $5 SONIC gift card and a $1 pk of 8 of their favorite candy bar (mini size). A single candy bar in VDay wrapping cost $1. We definitely got the better deal by shopping the regular candy aisle.

  19. Annette says

    We had the best Valentine’s Day this year. I think it helped that it was on a Sunday because we had fun preparing for our celebration all day. This year we focused on a lovely (and romantic) dinner for the whole family. My husband made a delicious beef stew by the Naked Chef (Jaime Oliver) and I made a white chocolate fondue for dessert. The kids loved all the yummy and inexpensive items to dip like pretzels, strawberries and some left-over brownies. We decorated the table, added candles, I printed my favorite saying (the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return) up on a homemade placard – and we had wonderful music to add to the ambiance. The kids loved being a part of it and I think we all felt really special in the end.

  20. Randi says

    Love the 14 days idea. This year my husband made me oreo cookie cream cheese truffles, which were fantastic. Probably the best dessert I have ever had. He then made me a steak stir fry for dinner, which was also fantastic.

  21. says

    My kids and I went to see The Princess and the Frog at the $1.99 theatre, and we went out for chinese food. We never really go out to eat anymore, so it was really fun. The only downside was, I totally stuffed myself at the buffet…I’m still recovering.:P

  22. dogear6 says

    The hubby and I quit going out for Valentine’s Day quite a few years ago when it became apparent that we couldn’t really go out on the 14th (usually we had to take reservations for the 13th) because you couldn’t get reservations much after New Year’s Day, the meals were outrageously priced and the quality was marginal.

    We stay home now and make a very nice dinner together, usually something that we would not otherwise spend money on. We set the table nicely, use candles, and dress nicely for each other as well. One year we cooked filet mignon for ourselves – it turned out well but we had to really read up on how to cook it (we pan fried it in butter). A different year we did crab cakes. We might buy a fancy dessert or else we make that too.

    Interestly, since Valentine’s Day this year was on a Sunday, we got reservations at Maggiano’s for mid-afternoon. They served from the regular menu, so we were able to keep the costs very reasonable and have a good time.

  23. ksmedgirl says

    We don’t usually do anything on Valentine’s Day. If I can get time alone with my hubby some time in February, that’s a treat! We consciously de-emphasized it this year the same as Christmas. This is better for my bi-polar child who doesn’t deal with holidays well. And if he’s miserable, guess who all else is? One thing I have done in the past is make white chocolate dipped pretzel rods with sprinkles for Valentine’s instead of at Christmas. We have also decided to forgo gifts at all holidays in order to put that money toward a yearly kid-free beach vacation, which I would MUCH rather have than any doo-dad.

  24. says

    I’m glad your husband reciprocated… I was about to rush down to comments and demand he does so…. Then I read on :).

    It’s a nice idea…. I treat my partner all year round to things so it actually makes it hard to make Valentines day different to the odd days here and there in a normal month. This year though I cooked a nice and new meal in (I am always cooking the same stuff for day to day food).

    I’m going to take her out to eat tomorrow if I can, just because…. Will go to a frugal cheap and local place though (almost cheaper than eating at home if you eat Egyptian food).



    • Kristen says

      He’s actually more prone to bringing me little gifts here and there just because (sometimes flowers, sometimes a favorite tea, sometimes some mint chocolate). I’m more of a planner (big surprise there, huh?? ;)).

  25. says

    This is my first Valentines Day to be married. I was going to do the 14 days of Valentines, and it started out good – I would leave him heart shaped sticky notes (which he loved), and one day I left him a piece of chocolate, and another day I left him a kiwi fruit. But I didn’t get to complete it, because I would forget etc. We went to a Valentines banquet together on Friday night, but I had a stomach bug and was so sick I couldn’t eat. Lol. I was all dressed up though, so he liked that. My stomach bug actually messed up both of our Valentines plans for each other. But, we gave each other candy and cuopons for cuddle time and “spicier” things. Last night I finally got around to doing my plan for him. I made us chocolate cake and set up a tiny table in our bedroom with a pretty tablecloth, wine glasses, and candles, and we had cake, sparkling grape juice, talked, and well, did “spicier” things too. Lol. It was great, and we had fun.

  26. Joyce says

    Some years my husband and I do gifts or cards for each other. Sometimes we don’t. It’s nothing ever planned. We both feel it’s a silly holiday so whatever happens happens.

  27. robbiekay says

    “he would give me the world if he didn’t have to worry about me being upset about him spending the money!” That sounds like our household! To use Dave Ramsey’s terminology, I’m the nerd and he’s the free spirit. We’ve only been married a year and a half, so we’re still learning. He forgot to take the pricetag off the book he gave me, so he received high praise when I saw he got it off the sale table and positive reinforcement about how you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a gift that’s really appreciated and loved (it was a coffee table book of glossy photos of Audrey Hepburn, my favorite actress). He also learned pretty early on that I prefer roasted seaweed (I love it, but it means making a special trip to the Korean market) over flowers, so instead of a bouquet I got two 4-packs of roasted seaweed. Bonus–it’s consumable, so no clutter!

  28. donna says

    I really like the idea of 14 days before V-day. I think will do this w/hubby next year. We don’t go out on V-day it is to crowded and overated. Give me break. We have to say I love everyday not one day a year. Just found your website today on CBN. Love your ideas will try them myself.

  29. Peng says

    i am Chinese guy; i watch u on CBN news in China and shock about ur story. Your are perfect mom. i wish you happy with ur children every day.

  30. Jean says

    Valentine’s Day now falls into the category of Christmas–commercialization instead of fun. And it is forced romance so a lot of people can feel left out. Each person needs to make it a simple, do something nice day whether it be for someone else or for oneself. For a small gift for my family and friends, I made peanut butter filled pretzels dipped in chocolate. In the past I have bought chocolate covered strawberries at a local bakery. Do you have any idea how many chocolate covered strawberries can be had for the price of a dozen roses??

  31. says

    I actually love Valentine’s Day, but not for jewelry or expensive gifts. I have always loved mail, and this was a day to give and get lots of mail — even in school! I associate the red foil hearts, stickers, and glittery things with that type of fun. I like that I don’t have to spend a ton of money on it, but can still feel thoughtful. This year I did send cards to my friends and family, but I found an unopened package of Hallmark Valentine cards at our thrift store for $2.00! So I didn’t even feel wasteful about selling them. I also made Valentine’s doggies out of pipe cleaners, which you can see photos of on my blog here: if you’re interested.

  32. Angela says

    Unfortunately, my husband doesn’t get off easy with a card and roses. This used to be his typical “go to” every Valentines Day but I recently reminded him that I don’t even like roses nor do I like him paying $100 for something he can get any other time of the year for $25 at Sams. It also kills me to turn a card over and see that he paid $8-10 for a card. Unfortunately, when I see the price of a card, I can’t get over what I could have bought for that $8-10. After all, $8-$10 translates a home cooked dinner for two nights for the family. What I DO appreciate is a gift that costs nothing, but shows that you took the time to think about what I would like and what would make me happy.

    My kids have always been good at recognizing my desire for a more homemade Valentines Day with carefully thought out gifts of car washes or something like that. This year, my husband finally got the hint but perhaps in an effort to please me, errored in the wrong direction. So be careful ladies what you wish for!

    This year, my husband skipped the roses and card wrote me a hand written card on one of the hearts I had scattered on the walls throughout the house. It was nice but I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that I didn’t at least get a foot rub or my car washed or something like that.

    My 18 yr old son on the other hand bought me an arrangement of 24 tulips (my absolute favorite), wrote me a handwritten card and gave me a “jar of hearts” (a jar filled with origami hearts that he spent hours carefully folding)…and, my son made me my favorite dinner, heart shaped steaks and homemade baked veggie fries. I quickly realized 1)I’ve succeeded in raising my son to be a good husband 2)my son needs a girlfriend to spoil (although I’ll miss him spoiling me) 3)my husband finally got the message on what I don’t want but, missed the boat on what I do want (ie. foot rub…bath tub cleaned…floors mopped..etc).

    My absolute favorite this Valentines Day was the “jar of hearts” from my son. Because I recognize it took forethought, and I recognize that the entire time he was folding the hearts, he was thinking of me.

    So Valentines Day around my house is, the kids cooking; decorating cupcakes as a family; the kids hiding in their rooms for hours making homemade gifts; me staying up late cutting out hearts and decorating the bathroom mirrors, etc. Oh yes…and a husband that’s still trying to figure out what the kids have already mastered. Probably because I raised my children to be that way….but my husband was raised by someone else. So our kids have the advantage. But I do love the fact that my husband got the hint and didn’t fork out $115 for roses and a card.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *