Valentine’s Day is meant to be a celebration of love. Historically, that’s been through the tradition of gift-giving. 🎁 

(Though it also has a much darker history.)

But with that can also come the expectation that you need to spend lots of money on your loved one to show your appreciation. And, if most of your budget is being used to cover the costs of student life, there’s not a lot of leeway in the budget to splurge on Valentine’s Day. 

And you don’t have to. There are also ways to celebrate love without a hefty price tag. So, here are some affordable and thoughtful ways to make the most of this time of year - and snag some deals while you’re at it. 💌

1. Homemade dinner

Instead of splurging on an expensive restaurant, opt for an intimate dinner at home. Prepare your partner's favourite meal, or try cooking something new together. If you’re new to cooking, here are some places to go for easy-to-make, budget-friendly recipes: 

You can also set the scene as though you were at a restaurant - light some candles, maybe play some music and it’ll feel just as romantic. 

Cost? £0-£20 (depending on what you’ve got on hand) 

2. Embrace your inner poet ✍️

Nowadays, the main forms of communication for most of us tend to be short-form texts and emojis, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have an inner poet somewhere inside of you. 

Try expressing how you feel about your partner with a letter or poem. It doesn’t have to sound like John Keats, but they’ll appreciate the time and effort it took to write something personal. 

Think about a specific memory you have where your partner did something you appreciated - or talk about what it is about them that made you fall for them (if you’re there). 

Cost? £0 

3. Get crafty

Save money by opting for a DIY gift for Valentine’s Day. Some of the ingredients may cost you a small amount upfront, but it will be much cheaper than buying an expensive gift. Some DIY gift ideas: 

It doesn’t have to be anything too complex, but a personal touch to any gift can make it feel that much more special. 

Cost? £0-£10 

4. Have a film night 🎥

Take advantage of student discounts and hit up the cinema on your Valentine’s Day. But, being in a dark room with lots of other people can sometimes feel less romantic than actually staying in your own flat. 

So, for the stay-at-home couples, why not make some popcorn, get comfy blankets and ask your partner to pick their favourite film to watch together? Or do a movie marathon night with a film series where each of you pick your favourites and watch them back-to-back. 

Cost? £0-£13.50

5. Do something cultural

If you’re a history or art geek, why not visit a museum or art gallery on this day of love? Museum entry can be free, or there are usually student discounts available too. If you live in London, you can get the Student Art Pass for £10/year, or the Tate Collective (for 16-25 year-olds) for £5 entry to exhibitions. 

Or if you’re up for something more light-hearted this Valentine’s Day, check out a comedy club - they also often have student discounts and sometimes cheap days where newer comedians can test run their acts. 

There might be a unique event going on, so do some research beforehand to add a cultural twist to your Valentine’s Day!  

Cost? £0-£10 

6. Give a photo gift 

Printed-out photos tend to have extra meaning in today’s digital age. You can print a single photo or order a more unique photo gift like a photo mug, magnet or collage. If you want to get extra sentimental, pick a picture from a special moment in your relationship - whether that’s from an anniversary or a trip you took together. 

You can also get student discounts on sites like Photobox through Student Beans and UniDays

Cost? £2-£20 

7. Make a personalised gift card

Personalised gift cards are a great way to show your love while also saving money. You can find templates online or make your own. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing: 

  • Head or back massage 

  • Home-cooked dinner

  • Breakfast in bed

  • One week of dish-washing 

Pick something that you know your partner’s in need of - or something new they might not have done for themselves. 

Cost? £0-£5 (if you buy a card)  

8. Thrift store gift exchange

One thrifty way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is to challenge each other to find the quirkiest or most thoughtful gift at a second-hand shop. It's a playful way to exchange gifts without burning a hole in your pocket - and you might find some hidden gems. 

Plus, thrift shopping is great for the planet too. 🌍

Cost? £0-however much of a budget you set for shopping  

9. Winter walk and a hot drink

Depending on where you live, February might be cold, but maybe not too cold to go for a romantic stroll in the evening. Bundle up and plan a walking route that maybe has some good sightseeing too. 

You could bring some drinks - whether that’s hot chocolate or a whiskey flask - to have on the route, or you can pop into a coffee shop or bar to finish off the night, depending on your budget. 

Cost? £0-£20/£30 

10. Games night in

Another affordable yet fun Valentine’s Day option is to stay in and have a games night. Whether it's a competitive round of Scrabble or something more low-key, it's a lively way to spend the evening together. 

For something a little more romantic, try doing the New York Times’ 36 Questions on the Way to Love. These questions are designed to create intimacy - starting with more generic questions to deeper ones. But beware, if it’s the early days of your relationship, you might just fall in love. 💘 

Cost? £0 

11. Find Valentine’s Day student discounts 

There are lots of discounts going on for Valentine’s Day, so even if you choose to go out for dinner instead of staying in, you might be able to find a deal to knock some pounds off the bill. Check out UniDays deals or Student Beans for some options. If you live in London, Time Out also has lots of offers available year-round. 

While thinking about money might not be the most romantic thing on Valentine’s Day, being stressed out about overspending is also far from sexy. 

If you’re in a more long-term relationship, it’s important to have those conversations to know what you can both realistically afford. You can discuss an approximate budget, so if one person is doing the planning, they know what you’re both willing to spend to still make it special! 

If it’s a first or third date, you may not yet be sharing the details of your finances, but you can still make the day special without emptying your wallet. Try one of these budget-friendly Valentine’s Day ideas to keep the sparks flying! 

Need some more general financial tips? These blogs may be helpful: 

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