I have often heard the phrase “Valentine’s Day is every day if you’re with the right person.” While this is true, I feel as though the day still has a deeper, special meaning. No matter who you are or how long you’ve been dating, almost everyone wants to feel that specialness that Valentine's Day brings.

The extra love and sweetness in the air, the fresh-cut roses that sit in the aisles of your favorite market and the Michael Bublé love songs can really get someone feeling warm, fuzzy and eager for a special night out. However, being in college can sometimes affect the amount we spend on a nice, fancy date, and even more so, chances are that your favorite restaurant is already booked up for the night. In this case, what do we do to ensure that our significant other can experience a romantic night that they’ve been wanting (or secretly wanting)?  

While a fancy dinner date sounds like the normal and most popular thing to do for Valentine’s, I want to assure you there are many other affordable, creative and cute ideas for you and your partner to do to celebrate your love and time together.  

The first and perhaps most affordable idea is a classic at-home romantic dinner. This first one makes dining together still the center of your night festivities while being a little less hard on the wallet and a little more intimate. This idea is wonderful because both of you still get to dress up fancy and share a nice meal together.

Pick you and your partner’s favorite meal like steak, shrimp fettuccini or even a nice slow beef roast along with some desert and wine—and cook it at home. For more fun, you two can cook it together. Or, you can have your significant other come over after you have cooked, set the table, lit a candle and set the flowers. This still provides a romantic mood and even allows you and your partner to enjoy more private time rather than being out with a multitude of other couples trying to enjoy dinner.  

Another cute date idea to try out; bowling. No matter how long you two have been together, a little competition is a great way to add some fun to your relationship and allow you to get to know one another even more. I mention bowling because it has been one of the most cost-effective outings that I have experienced yet. However, there are many other activities such as mini golf, movies, go-kart racing and etc. that allow for the same amount of fun but are just a bit pricier. With bowling, there is time for fun, easy foods and some easy competition. There are some great bowling places out there that even offer cool things like lights-out bowling.  

A third option similar date option to keep Valentine’s Day low-key is taking a trip to the skate rink. Skating together falls under a more cost-effective outing, just like bowling. However, it can take some more skill, but you’ll get more falls and of course more laughter. This is a great way to experience something new and challenging with your partner. Having to either rely on one another to ensure you don’t fall or show off how great you are skating can create some laughs and good memories.

Another amazing way to save money while still creating a romantic experience is a DIY wine tasting. Wine tasting can be so fun, but it can also be so pricey. The silver lining is to create your own wine tasting at home. You can make it romantic with the things mentioned in our first at home idea, or you can make it completely goofy and fun.

With this idea, you can both go to the store and pick out multiple cheap bottles of wine and some groceries for dessert making. When you get home, label the bottles by number and start tasting. At the end of your wine tasting, separately write down your favorite wines by the number and then compare your list to each other's. If you are not the wine type, feel free to do this will specialty beers or margaritas.  

Last but not least, who says Valentine’s Day is just for romantic partners? You can be single and still experience the magic of Valentine’s Day with people that are close to your heart. Last year, my friend group of both males and females got together and enjoyed a game night. We each brought an appetizer or a dessert, some beverages of our choice, and got together to just enjoy each other’s company. We laughed, ate and drank and just enjoyed making new memories together while playing games. Valentine's Day is a celebration of love for everyone—not just those in romantic relationships.  

Whatever you choose to do for Valentine’s, I’m sure it’ll be great. You can utilize any of these ideas or gain some new ideas from them. Just remember that whatever you do—it should be unique to your relationship or friendship. If you’d rather stay in and be comfy or go out and enjoy the night, whatever you choose is perfect for you and yours. Stay safe and have a happy Valentine’s Day.

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