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By Alissa Green
In 18th century England, celebrating Valentine’s Day called for making a handmade card of lace and ribbons featuring some variety of cupid and hearts.
In 2016, Valentine’s Day costs in the U.S. amounted to $512.02 per couple, according to Bankrate’s Be My Valentine Index. That includes the price of roses, chocolates, dinner, jewelry and a bottle of bubbly.
This year, that number rose to $580.98.
But don’t worry – you don’t need to spend that much to have a romantic V-Day. We looked at Bankrate’s ingredients for a perfect Valentine’s Day and found some alternative (read: still lovely) solutions that won’t wreak havoc on your wallet.
1. Personally arrange your own flowers from the supermarket
56% of men said they planned to buy a dozen red roses (long-stem). The price tag normally hovers around $94, but it doesn’t have to — if you choose less expensive flowers from your local grocery store. Plus, if you arrange them yourself, you can show that you’re a true original to boot!
Check out Real Simple’s guide to making a supermarket bouquet for help.
2. Make chocolate-covered strawberries from scratch
Bankrate’s index puts a box of valentine’s chocolates at nearly $15. You can enjoy chocolate strawberries for half that.
A few years ago, I had an awful sinus infection on Valentine’s Day and just could not get to the store to buy my then-boyfriend a gift. I looked around the house and found we had a box of strawberries and chocolate chips.
Don’t tell him – but it was one of the easiest gifts I’ve ever given. All you do is boil the chocolate chips and then dip the strawberries, turning them gently.
Food.com has more specific instructions on how to make chocolate-covered strawberries, but I’m confident any skill level can succeed.
3. Celebrate Valentine’s Day either early or late to lower your restaurant bill
This tip comes down to supply and demand. Everyone wants to go out on Valentine’s Day, so many restaurants only offer expensive prix fixe menus. By celebrating the weekend before or a few days after, you can enjoy regular menu options without the, er, romantic upcharge. Since this year’s V-Day is on a Tuesday, there’s even more reason to choose the weekend before/after.
4. Set spending expectations in advance
Some folks love St. Valentine. Others view it as yet another holiday created by Hallmark. Wherever you fall, make sure your partner is on the same page. You might be buying an expensive piece of jewelry when a thoughtful love note and home-cooked meal would do. Or, you might need that jewelry after all!
5. Champagne isn’t the only delicious bubbly beverage
Sure, Champagne is great and from, literally, the Champagne region of France. But, it’s not the only option for a couple looking to pop the cork off their Valentine’s Day. As alternatives, consider the Italian prosecco or the Spanish cava. They’re made with different grapes, but the final result is appealing enough, especially if you aren’t a wine connoisseur. Plus, prosecco typically costs between $12-$14 for a good entry-level bottle. Sold!
Alissa Green is the Digital Marketing Manager at Alliant. She has 10+ years experience writing/blogging and has written for Jezebel, The Onion, MyFirstApartment.com, and MyFirstCondo.com amongst other sites. The best piece of financial advice she’s gotten was from her mother, who says one should never try to beat the market (thanks, mom!). In her spare time, you can find Alissa enjoying the local comedy scene, exploring different Chicago neighborhoods, supporting the Chicago Humanities Festival and reading up on FinTech.