This Sunday, 14 February, couples around the world will celebrate their love for one another. But how do you plan a special day without spending a small fortune? The key is to still indulge in some of the Valentine’s Day traditions, but to simply reduce them. So we’ve looked at the usual traditions and suggested some cost-saving measures.

Romantic Meal for Two

It’s pretty much a given that the romantic meal for two is an obligatory part of the days celebrations. We all have to eat anyway right? So why not make today’s meal a little more special than the usual. But special doesn’t have to mean an expensive fancy restaurant. Here are some low cost alternatives.

Stay in

Ditch the microwave meals and takeaway; take the time to make something fresh and delicious. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just something a little more complicated and interesting than the usual daily meals. Search online for recipes and play around with the presentation, such as plating it up in a love heart or spell out the words “I love you”. If you’re a hopeless cook, fear not. Focus on dishing up something different to the norm like home-made pizza, using a ready-made base, or a mezze platter, which is basically chopping and plating up. Don’t forget the ambiance with scented candles or scattered cut-out love hearts.

Avoid the set menu

Many restaurants offer set two or three course set menus for Valentine’s Day. Whilst they sound like a great deal, it’s likely to cost more than what you would normally spend on a night out. Forgo the entrée and dessert and just enjoy the main instead. If you’re feeling like something sweet afterwards, you could always enjoy an ice cream back at home. It’s also worth checking out websites like groupon.com.au and livingsocial.com.au for restaurant deals in your local area.

Go out for breakfast

The romantic Valentine’s Day meal doesn’t have to be dinner. Many cafes and restaurants offer a scrumptious and filling big breakfast for a reasonable price and often less than the cost of dinner (especially if you enjoy a wine with yours). It can also be a special way to start the day and lead into a fun entertainment activity.

Entertainment

Valentine’s Day is about spending quality time with your loved one so why not plan an activity together. Remember, the focus is to enjoy each-others company which doesn’t have to cost a thing. Be creative, and really budget savvy, and find something free to do.

Walk or museum

If the weather’s nice, head out for a casual stroll along the beach to take in the fresh air and scenery. If the beach isn’t your thing, head to your local botanic gardens instead. For those feeling really energetic, go bush and take a nature walk. If the weather’s not so great, why not visit your local museum for a bit of culture.

Something fun at home

If you’d prefer to stay at home, mix up your usual routine by taking a walk down memory lane. Bring up old photos on your laptop, phone or Facebook account and reminisce about your first holiday together, anniversary, whatever photos you happen to find. For couples with a bit of a competitive streak, get out an old board game, pack of cards or video game and have a friendly contest. Or spice it up with a bet – loser does dishes for a week. Or choose something a little more romantic (or naughty), whatever takes your fancy.

Stargaze

When was the last time you appreciated the wondrous night sky? Put on some warm clothes, grab a picnic rug, a thermos of warm drink and some snacks and find a spot overlooking the city or beach and simply take in the view.

Present Time

Traditionally, one would give their loved one a present on Valentine’s Day. To avoid disappointment, have an open discussion with your partner about expectations and budgets. Here are some low cost suggestions to run past them.

Scrap the present

Instead of exchanging physical gifts, why not agree to enjoy the experience of the day as your present to each other. You’ve enjoyed a lovely meal together, partaken in a free entertainment activity, what more do you need? Alternatively, you could put the money you would have spent on a present towards a low cost experience such as a trip to the movies.

Share a promise

Mark the day by making a promise to each other to do something the other person will appreciate. For example, a foot massage in exchange for control of the television remote for a night. Whatever you’ve been wanting your partner to do but they haven’t been keen for, now is a good time to negotiate.

Say I love you

Valentine’s Day is the day of love so make sure you tell your partner how you feel about them. In today’s digital age, why not declare your love via social media and let the whole world know. Your partner is bound to feel very special.

Whatever you decide to do this Valentine’s Day, be creative and have a romantic time.