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Katy England Katy England
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Five cheap ways to celebrate Valentine's Day

I'm cheap. It helps that I'm poor, but that doesn't quite account for all of it. Valentine's Day always struck me as a time to just spend money on things you don't need, and maybe don't even want all that much. Maybe it's just burnout from the holidays. Maybe I don't like eating in crowded restaurants. And I'm not really knocking it, because clearly it's popular and people enjoy it. But here are some fun, romantic twists to help my fellow cheapskates.

5. The gift of time. Does the cuddle-bug in your life do a lot for you? Wrangle the kids, fix up the house, or work eight days a week? Maybe giving them some time to do something they really like even if it's a simple as letting them take an adult ed. class, hit the library for some quiet time or try their hand at a new hobby or skill. Giving them a chunk of time to do something quietly can be a thoughtful (and peaceful) gift. Might also consider if you can swing it taking the time to do some of these classes or activities together. Start a game/hobby night that goes beyond just Valentine's Day.

4. Plan for future trips. Having snow banks up to your eyeballs may not be your idea of romance, but it would be a great way to plan for a nice vacation during the warmer parts of the year. And a romantic getaway, even one that is close to home, can be a nice way to dream away a chilly afternoon.

3. Love notes. Pour your heart out on paper, in a fancy card. Write legibly and be honest and you will have a wonderful memory that only cost you the price of the paper it was printed on. But it means so much more than that

2. Make each other gifts. Whether you have a skill in woodworking, knitting, or sewing, a handcrafted gift contains not only your thoughtfulness but the time it took you to make it.

1. Cook a romantic meal. Whether you want a nice steak, a vegetarian lasagna or fancy lobster dinner, you can very easily learn the steps to cook a delicious meal, complete with wine or beer and save oodles of cash. You could even turn it into an all-day event start with breakfast in bed or brunch and end with a lovely dessert.

Five Family Valentines

5. Making the valentines. Whether you have school-aged kids, toddlers or infants arts and crafts can be fun. And it's a nice way to teach your kids about being kind, the power of nice words and portion control when it comes to chocolate. I'm a big advocate of construction paper, markers and glitter for this one.

4. History lessons! Why do we celebrate Valentine's Day? Was he a real dude? Was there more than one? Who else shares Feb. 14 as a saint?

3. A being-nice-a-thon. Though Valentine's Day is when many people celebrate romantic love, this could be a great chance to talk about why it's important to be kind. Give out rewards for acts of kindness witnessed by siblings and encourage some family love.

2. If your kids are old enough, chocolate molds are the way to go. You melt the candy, chill them in the molds and you have DIY candy as a treat.

1. Sugar cookies! It's like making paper Valentines, but you can eat them! Kid can help in all aspects of the cookie making, mixing ingredients, cookie cutters or simply just taste-testing.


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