By Alicia Kellebrew
The Village Financial Resource Center
It seems like only yesterday I was writing about financial New Year’s resolutions. Now, here we are, just a few short weeks away from Valentine’s Day already. Well, if your financial New Year’s resolutions are in danger of being wrecked by Valentine’s Day spending, I have some alternatives to traditional gift ideas that might just help save the day.
Traditional gift: One dozen long-stem red roses.
Cost-effective alternative: Make a few adjustments. If live flowers are a must, consider other, less expensive alternatives such as carnations, daisies, tulips, etc. Or scale back on the number, and send a red solitaire rose instead of a large group of them. Also, consider delivering the order personally. Not only will you save on delivery costs, but you’ll get to see your recipient’s reaction to your gift.
Traditional gift: A piece of diamond jewelry
Cost-effective Alternative: Trying something less traditional, or (gasp!) make your own jewelry. If jewelry is a must on your list, consider alternative metals or stones to keep cost down. You could also buy supplies and have a crafty friend show you how to make something yourself. The best part of this method is that your finished product can be personalized to your reflect the unique personality of your recipient.
Traditional gift: A heart-shaped box of chocolates
Cost-effective alternative: Create a homemade candy bouquet. Craft your own candy bouquet made with your sweetheart’s favorites. Or, you might consider making your own candies! If cooking/baking isn’t your thing, call on that friend who’s a culinary know-it-all and who might enjoy helping you surprise that special someone.
Traditional gift: Greeting Card
Cost-effective alternative: A homemade card. Again, this one gives you the chance to get creative. Although on this one if you do decide to go the traditional route, be sure to include a personal message. That turns a simple card into something they will treasure for a long time. One thing I started doing was to write the year I gave the card inside it. It’s fun to look back on them through the years.
And here are a few bonus non-traditional ideas for cutting costs without breaking hearts:
Non-traditional gift idea #1 – Put how you feel into writing: This could include an old fashioned love letter, filling a sticky notepad full of messages for your one and only (such as reasons you love them, words that describe them, your favorite memories of them, etc.), and finding fun places to hang them. Or if you are feeling really daring, try a love poem (such as a haiku or a Shakespearean Sonnet – complete with Iambic pentameter).
Non-traditional gift idea #2- Plan a month’s (or more) worth of dates. If you are like me, you hate deciding where to go eat or what to go do for a date night. In an effort to help with this dilemma, why not write up ideas on pretty, colored pieces of paper and put them in a decorative box or jar? You could even color code them in relationship to how much they cost (Ok, maybe that’s only romantic to financial counselors!). For example, one might say, “Watch your favorite movie out of your private collection,” which could be on green paper because it doesn’t cost any money.
Non-traditional gift idea #3 – Make the ordinary extraordinary. Maybe you plan to just stay in for the night and cook dinner at home. That doesn’t mean you can’t eat by candlelight with mood music playing in the background. You may decide to wear your best dress or a sharp-looking tie. You could even end up doing an impromptu waltz in the middle of your living room. The idea is to set Valentine’s Day apart from just a standard day.
Non-traditional gift idea #4 – Give the gift of self. This could mean offering up an act of service for your loved one such as filling up their gas tank if you notice it is running low or offering to do the dishes or laundry while they go take a nap. Another idea is to simply plan time together, doing one of their favorite activities or something that you both enjoy such as playing board games or working together on a home or craft project.
Bottom Line: The most important piece of the Valentine’s Day equation is that you let those around you know how special they are to you (This goes for anyone that you hold dear). What you spend to do that is not as important as the love and thought behind your gesture.