Here we are, at that time of year when Americans are expected to spend an arm and a leg to show how much we love our significant others. Roses, teddy bears, expensive meals and wine/champagne are thrust in our faces… making it hard to get away from the cliché ideas of this holiday— and trying to make us feel guilty for either not having a partner to share it with, or perhaps that we need to be overly extravagant on this one day to make up for a year of ‘mediocrity.’

As a thrifty young woman in a long-term relationship, I can say that none of these consumerist ideas impress me… except i’m a sucker for flowers (but hand-picked bouquets yield way more brownie points). If you’re looking to make your partner smile, thoughtfulness and creativity are the way to go, and those can cost you almost NO dollars. Poems, handmade cards, a short video or simple drawing, or even just a hidden note can mean the most…and if you’re thoughtful enough, getting your partner their favorite hard-to-find snack or just literally ANYTHING that says, “I went out of my way for you,” it may bring a tear to their eye. It’s that easy to make someone feel loved.

So, this frugal diva has a few lovely ideas that I’d be excited to do with my honey, or just by myself! These are just a few of my favorite things to do in this city of ours, that I find to be the most romantic with a partner-in-crime, or stag, AND they won’t break the bank:

1. Epic hikes. Nothing makes our souls smile like standing in the face of nature, getting our hearts pumping, and sharing a moment with yourself or with another. Hiking is my favorite thing to do with a lover, homie, or friend. There’s nothing like a good conversation while traversing a hillside.

Peckers-Point-19492. Lookouts. These are not cliché, but classic. Sometimes I think nothing is more romantic than driving to a spot at night, where you can see all the twinkling city lights down below, and… going with the flow.

3. Movies. Also, classic. And in our city, there are so many options for romantic screenings around this holiday. I love watching a good story on a giant screen, in the dark, with a bunch of strangers, and some snacks. If my partner likes going with me, and mostly lets me choose the film, then they have my heart forever.

4. Moonlight stroll. Like the hiking, there’s nothing like seizing a walk, perhaps a good chat, and of course, the moon. Nothing more lovely than the moon.

5. Massages. Enough said.

6. Go dancing. Dancing is therapeutic to the spirit. It embraces us and makes us love ourselves in the moment of the music. Even if (or especially if) you are home alone, make room for some serious dancing, and let go of every inhibition you have.

7. People-watching. If you’re anything like me, then perhaps you want to hit somewhere you can sit unnoticed with a pair of sunglasses and an ice cream cone and watch the world go by… and the weird, amazing people in it. If you have a buddy to exchange witty references, all the better.

8. Diner dining. It’s simple, and hopefully pretty cheap. But I can sit in a cushy booth and order french fries and a chocolate malt, so…… I’m good.


9. Candlelit meal at home. If my partner surprised me with literally mac and cheese (which happens to be one of my favorites) and some candles, I’d be in paradise. That would be the cutest thing ever.

10. A Day/Night Unplugged. **MOST IMPORTANT** Nothing is a bigger turn-off than watching the person you’re trying to spend time with, look at their phone every 2 minutes. End of story. Time is the best gift of all. For those far away people who you want to say ‘I love you,’ try not to send a text or email. A phone call to someone far away is worth more than at least 3 emails.

Even though this holiday is supposed to be shared with the person you love (i.e. making us feel pathetic when we don’t have one) why can’t that person be yourself? In an age when we barely slow down to really love and treat ourselves right, this holiday should be centered around doing just that… Because we can’t truly love another person if we don’t love ourselves first, anyway.

Also, it’s not about just saying ‘I love you’ to your partner or how much money you spend, but taking the time to say it to the friends and family that care about you. Let’s think of this holiday as another day to be grateful for the love we experience everyday– from the strangers cracking jokes in the grocery store, to your best friends who’ve been there for you through your worst, to your family who will always be there for you no matter what– all of them making life a little easier.