how to throw the perfect valentine's day (for under $50!)

 Photo Credit:  Roman Kraft

Photo Credit:  Roman Kraft

Ughhhhhhhhhh, Valentine’s Day, I loathe you so.  And not because I’m single but because you are SO. DARN. EXPENSIVE.  (Yes, fellas, I got your back here.)  While it started out innocent enough, it has since grown into a $20 billion dollar industry.  $20 BILLION DOLLARS.  Whew, that’s a lot of candy hearts. And it sucks, guys, especially for you because you’re the ones footing the bill.  On behalf of all women, I apologize (kind of – I’m sure you owe us).  And I’m also here to help you out.

I get how expensive this holiday can be, especially since I’m sure you just got your significant other one hell of a Christmas present.  However, I also know you don’t want to cheat the one you love out of a nice Valentine’s Day.  Thus, I’ve come up with a step-by-step Valentine’s Day plan that you can pull off under $50, and that includes a killer meal & sufficiently sweet (but frugal!) gifts.  Follow along.


There’s no way you can go to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day for under $50 unless you’re taking her to McDonald’s, and trust me, guys, that will really backfire on you.  So on this one, you’re going to have to put on your apron and get in the kitchen.  Don’t be scared – I’ve got an easy recipe for you.

The cheapest and easiest dinner to cook for someone is pasta.  It’s ALWAYS pasta.  Plus it’s a holiday, so your girlfriend will more than likely be willing to eat carbs.  Thus, for your impressive dinner menu, you’ll be serving up a nice Italian meal of fettucine alfredo – a classic that is sure to please your lady (or gentleman) friend.  I’ve included an easy recipe for you to use below (and it hails from the Pioneer Woman, who is like the Lebron James of the cooking world), and when I priced out the ingredients, it came in under $10.

The Pioneer Woman's Fettuccine Alfredo

You’ll also need to round out your dinner with other items (you can’t JUST have pasta), so here are my suggestions:

Wine – I like the Cupcake brand, which you can find for less than $10 at most liquor or grocery stores.  My favorite?  The merlot (Read about it here > Cupcake Merlot).  It’s red, it’s dry, it’s fancy.  She’ll love it. Estimated Cost: $9

Salad – Chop up a head of romaine (not iceberg, repeat NOT ICEBERG) lettuce, slice a tomato in there, and finish it off with some balsamic vinagraitte.  Estimated cost:  $3

Dessert – A pint of ice cream to share.  I love Talenti gelato, and with a myriad of flavors, like Sea Salt Caramel or Fudge Brownie, you really can’t go wrong.  Find it at your local grocery store.  Estimated cost:  $4.50

Total Cost of Dinner (including the wine, salad, pasta, and dessert): $25


Choose one (or two if you're feeling generous!)of the following gifts or activities to spoil your significant other.


  1. Instagram Photo Magnets ($15.99) – I absolutely love these.  I may even buy some for myself.  Just pick out the 9 best photos of you & your boo and hang them on your refrigerator so she can be reminded how thoughtful you are all year long.

  2. Initial Pendant Necklace ($14.00) – give the gift of jewelry without the commitment.  My friend has one of these, and I find myself wanting it every time I see her wear it. 

  3. Flowers ($10-$15) – Want to save on flowers? Get a bouquet from your local grocery store.   They may not be red roses, but hey, those are kind of corny anyways.  AND you’ll save yourself a pretty penny. 


  1. Hike – if your lady loves the outdoors and it’s warm enough to get outside for an hour or two, tell her how much you love spending time in the fresh air together and head out for a hike.  Treat her to a coffee on the way home to warm back up.

    Estimated Cost:  $15 (Park Entrance Fee + Starbucks)

  2. Or Hunt (as in the Scavenger Kind) - Take her on scavenger hunt of all the places in your city that mean the most to you as a couple (i.e. where you met, your first date, where you realized you loved her, etc.).  Take a picture of the two of you at each spot, and then present her with the clue to the next location.  You can end up back at your place, ready to start dinner.  And you’ll have photos to forever remember it by.

    Estimated Cost:  $5 (Parking, Gas, etc.)

  3. Get artsy…even if you can’t even draw a stick figure.  Head to Michael’s (check out their website for coupons – they usually have ones for 40% off one item!), grab a couple of canvases and some finger paint, and channel your inner child.  There’s something very freeing about being silly and creative, and you never know – you may just end up with some interesting artwork.

    Estimated Cost:  $20 (2 Canvases + Finger Paint)


This is the most important part, gentleman, and if you do nothing else, at least do this. 

The whole goal of Valentine’s Day is to make your significant other feel loved, and the best way to do that is to write it out.  Go buy a cheap card or grab a sheet of notebook paper, and tell her how you feel.  I’m not talking about a couple sentences – give her something with substance.  I’ve received many gifts, but the ones I always keep are the cards or letters that mean something to me.   And if you have a hard time writing down your feelings, just listen to a few sad songs.  That usually gets me in the emotional mood.

Estimated Cost: < $1

There you have it!  Ladies, if you have any other suggestions, I (and all of the gentleman readers) would love to hear them – help a brother out ;)

Hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s (or for you single ladies, Galentine’s) Day!

 Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle

Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle