5 budget-friendly dates for Valentine’s Day

April Henley

Valentine’s Day – America’s holiday for romance, painted red with high-dollar means of saying, “I love you.” Apart from Christmas, Valentine’s Day is the most expensive holiday for couples. Last year, Americans collectively spent a record-breaking $19.7 billion, and it was assessed that men spent nearly twice as much as women, shelling out almost $200 to every woman’s $100. It appears the modern methods of over-commercialization for this holiday have blotted out a simple but important principle: Money can buy most anything, but not love. The thought and care you put into a special Valentine’s day (or evening) will mean more to your partner than a fancy dinner at a triple-dollar restaurant and a pricey gift to boot; you can show a lady (or gentleman) a good, memorable time for under $50. Here are five budget-friendly date ideas for your upcoming Valentine’s Day that will inspire moments filled with fun, joy, and yes, love.

Game Night

There’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, right? If you just started seeing someone, you can take the edge off romance and third, fourth, or fifth impressions by hitting up a bowling alley, mini-golf course, and/or arcade – if you are lucky, a place that has all three. Race each other on Go Karts; take aim at the batting cage; and challenge each other for the top score at skee ball, air hockey, Pac-Man, or Space Invaders. Collectively win tickets and let your date pick a prize to take home – it will mean more to them than if you were to give them a box of candy. Also, most metropolitan areas host arcade bars now, which means drinks, dinner, and no screaming children.

Paint and Sip

You do not have to be a Picasso to enjoy an evening at a paint-and-sip establishment. These franchises, such as Pinot’s Palette, encourage couples to disconnect from daily life to reconnect with each other in a relaxed yet upscale group environment. Under the guidance of talented staff members, you and your date will learn to paint a pre-selected image, though personal flair and creativity are encouraged to make your piece special and one-of-a-kind. To enhance the cozy, stress-free and fun ambiance of this experience, wine and cocktails are available at the paint-and-sip workshops, but most will allow you to bring your own bottle of wine from home. Perhaps the best bonus to the evening is you and your date can take your masterpieces home! How much better does a hand-painted canvas sound to a bouquet of roses? The former will last forever, as will the memory tied to it.

Get Back to Nature

Depending on where you live and the local climate, a nature-inspired Valentine’s Day date is open to options. Coastal residents, you and your companion can enjoy a walk along the beach; collect sea shells and other tokens of the sea; and take a refreshing dip in the water. If there is still snow in your part of the world, grab a pair of snowshoes and walk white-blanketed trails, stopping along the way to build snowmen, sled down a hill, and sip hot chocolate. Then, for those of you who are feeling the early onset of spring, with warm breezes and light precipitation, hiking wooded and/or mountainous terrain is perhaps the best outdoor dating activity because it warrants comfortable attire, endorphin-stimulating exercise, great photo opportunities, beautiful scenery, and the chance to break barriers and form a stronger bond between you and your partner.

In any one of these scenarios, you can make the experience even better by bringing along a picnic – crackers, cheese, salami, grapes, and a bottle of wine – and end the day by watching the sunset. If the situation and previous hours leading up to it are, for lack of a better word, perfect, cozy up to your date and stargaze.

Laugh It Up at a Comedy Club

Watching stand-up comedy at a local club can be a better form of entertainment than watching a movie at the theater or attending a loud, ear-ringing concert – cheaper too, as most comedy clubs charge $5 admission. Stand-up comedians approach the stage with rehearsed lines, but will often ad lib and even chat up their audience; this can make for a one-time, one-of-a-kind experience. Most stand-up comics present new material at clubs, so you have to be forgiving if the jokes are unpolished. Who knows though? You may be hearing the next Jerry Seinfeld.

A Special Evening at Home

Who says you have to go out on Valentine’s Day? Sometimes the most romantic gestures, the most meaningful, memorable moments happen under your own roof. It starts with a home-cooked dinner prepared by you, or you and your date work hand-in-hand, chopping, stirring, and whisking delicious creations of culinary splendor. Next, you take supper in the candlelit dining room or dine comfortably side-by-side at the coffee table. Perhaps you play a little mood music to set the scene, fill the moments of silence – you know, those seconds where eyes lock and pounding hearts speak louder than words. Pandora offers a variety of playlists specially-produced for occasions like February 14th:

  • Country Love Songs: Tunes strung on heartfelt guitar strings that relay simpler times of love and youth – great for those of you who like slow-step dancing in the living room; featured artists include Tim McGraw, Billy Currington, and Kenny Chesney.
  • Classic Rock Love Songs: Songs of affection and devotion that conquered airwaves in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, sung by music icons such as Journey, Bryan Adams, and Fleetwood Mac.
  • Pop Love Songs: Soft alternatives to rock and roll, this station turns out heart-swaying numbers by The Fray, Bruno Mars, Adele, and Ellie Goulding.
  • 80s Love Songs: Ballads that rock your soul and roll you away on waves of emotion, songs that featured in classic 80s movies like Dirty Dancing and The Breakfast Club, sung by the era’s legends, including Pat Benatar, Phil Collins, Richard Marx, and Wham!
  • Love Songs: A rich blend of love songs spanning different genres and eras, with scores by the likes of Christina Perri, John Legend, and Lady Antebellum.

After dinner, you and your date are free to develop the evening in any way you both see fit. You can cuddle on the couch to watch a movie, play a game with wagers, read love notes to one another, or get silly by camping out in the living room, complete with a fort made of bedsheets. Whatever you choose, it will be special because you did it with your special someone, and the feeling will be mutual.

Lennar wishes its homeowners to enjoy the best in-home experiences, and this includes moments of tenderness aided by the heart-moving melodies of your Valentine’s Day playlist(s). We offer our homeowners a 15% discount on Polk Audio products, including sound bars, amplifiers, and speakers, which can be installed in both outdoor and indoor entertainment spaces. This Valentine’s Day, hold your loved one close, dance the night away, and share a gentle kiss, as you are both swept away by a better listening experience of the thought-provoking, emotion-stirring musical scores you adore. This complimentary benefit is available through Lennar’s MyRewards program.


Pandora Guide to Valentine’s Day

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