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Celebrate on a Budget

As seen in the February 2011 issue of MSM. For a current issue go to: www.mainstreetmagazine.net

How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day on a Budget

By jjmaughan

love comes from the heart

Love comes from the heart not the pocket book

Expressing love and affection is what Valentine’s Day is all about. It is now anyway. When times were good and wallets full it was easy to shower that special someone with expensive gifts. Now times are lean: the recession took a 20 billion dollar bite out of consumers’ Valentine’s Day budgets. This year spending lavishly on chocolates, trips, massages and flowers is out of the question, financially speaking.

We still wish to show those we love how special they are to us on Valentine’s Day, but we need to do it without breaking the bank.

For your kids. Do what you can to make this day special, especially if it falls on a weekday. Cut red hearts out of construction paper and cover your child’s door with them, creating a “Heart Attack.” Or, leave clues on the paper hearts for a scavenger hunt around the house, ending up in the kitchen with pink pancakes for breakfast. Tuck a handmade Valentine in their backpack or lunch to discover at school. Give your kids an “I Love You” coupon book with cool trade-ins for a “Get out of chores free” card or a “Stay up 1/2 hour later” coupon.

For your kids’ classroom party. The dollar store is a wonderful place to purchase holiday-related items. Rather than pick up a pack of plain old paper punch-out Valentines, try something different. Buy a few packs of themed pencils or erasers (usually sold in packs of 8 or 12) to pass out. Look for inexpensive Valentine candies to contribute, or volunteer to coordinate the games, which is often much less expensive than distributing treats.

For work. Most workplaces have some sort of treat table on Valentine’s Day. Do your part by bringing treats that you can make at home that are inexpensive yet plentiful. Try making marshmallow rice cereal treats or cake mix cookies instead of swinging by the bakery to buy expensive goodies frosted in red and white. Another option is to volunteer to bring the napkins, plates or cups for the office snack table. Often these items can be purchased for less than the cost of treats and you are still contributing. If your workplace is having an actual party, volunteer for the games and contribute your creativity instead of food.

For your spouse. Actions and words can convey much more to a loving spouse than expensive jewelry and fancy dinners. Tuck a love note into their jacket pocket, purse or lunch bag for them to find. Gifts can be inexpensive and meaningful without costing a lot. Purchase a new book by their favorite author with a coupon for a lazy uninterrupted afternoon for reading. Give them some bubble bath with the promise of a full hour in the tub, alone or with you. A CD mix of their favorite tunes or an assortment of love songs will be a sweet and thoughtful gift as well. For the final touch, do a deep clean of the bedroom and set up candles around the room. Lay a single rose on their pillow with a love note written from the heart. Let your spouse know how much you appreciate all they do and how attractive you find them. Write anything else that is special and tender between you. Most couples will find a way to finish up Valentine’s Day in their own intimate way after that.

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