It’s the weekend before Valentine's Day, and you are starting to stress out. You are wondering how you can show your partner how much you care without breaking the bank. Don’t worry; you don’t need to dip into your savings account to pay for a fancy dinner, flowers, chocolates, and card. I intend to help you find the perfect gift or date idea that both your partner and wallet will love.
It all starts with the five love languages as defined by Dr. Gary Chapman. Maybe you’ve heard of them? I hadn’t until last year, and it changed how I interacted with my boyfriend. The idea behind them is that everyone experiences love differently. Some people, like me, really enjoy being complimented or told through words how much their partner cares. Others, like my boyfriend, feel loved when their partner does something to make life a little easier (i.e. cleaning, cooking, or other chores). My love language is called “words of affirmation”, my boyfriend’s is called “acts of service.” The other three are “receiving gifts,” “quality time,” and “physical touch.”
Before my boyfriend and I took the test to discover our love languages, we assumed the other experienced love the same way we did, so I complimented him and he helped me out. This is common for many couples. If you do not want to take the test with your partner, notice how they express their love for you. Most of the time, that’s how they want to be loved in return.
So what does this have to do with Valentine's Day? Well, it will help you make a more informed decision on what to do this February 14th. Take some time to consider your partner’s love language, and then select one of these cheap Valentine's Day gifts or date ideas to show that you’ve paid attention to their needs.
For those who like to be told in words how much you love them:
- Write down how much you care on sticky notes. Distribute them throughout their dorm or apartment, car, or the bag they take to school or work. If you want to go the extra mile, lead them on a scavenger hunt to find all of your little love memos.
- Share a playlist, or write a song or poem. Use the lyrics of others to express how you feel, or if your artistic side is up for it, find the words yourself. If you want to go for a nineties’ vibe, create a mixtape or CD, but make sure your partner has the equipment to play it!
- Interview their friends and family. Ask them what they love about your partner and compile their responses. Depending on your abilities, you may be inclined to create a short video, audio file, or word collage.
For those who like when you make their life easier:
- Help them complete a project. Is there something that your partner has been talking about finishing for a while but just can’t find the time to do it? Volunteer to help, and set aside a few hours for both of you to work together.
- Make them a home-cooked meal. To help generate recipe ideas, visit Foodgawker. If cooking is new to you, you might want to sign up for a recipe and ingredient delivery service, like Blue Apron or Marley Spoon. Both companies offer special rates for new members, and if you don’t want to pay for future months, you can cancel after your first week.
- Clean their apartment or dorm. Nothing is better than walking into a clean room after a long day of classes or work. If you think your partner would feel comfortable with you cleaning their space, grab the Windex and get to work.
For those who love presents:
- Buy a potted plant and make a sweet dessert. Think your partner would appreciate something similar to the traditional flowers and chocolate gift? A potted plant will last longer and is usually cheaper than cut flowers. Chocolates are delicious, but I’m sure your partner would also appreciate their favorite homemade dessert. If you can’t decide what to make, rice krispy treats are really easy and fun to shape into hearts!
- Craft something special. Pinterest is overflowing with ideas for handmade gifts. I’m not a crafty person, so I am a bit intimidated by the idea, but if it’s up your alley, go for it!
- Frame some photos or lyrics from a favorite song. Instagram isn’t the only place to show off your pictures! Print some from your account, or consider taking photos over the weekend with a disposable camera. If you are into the lyrics idea, think about the first song you ever listened or danced to together, find the sheet music, and pop them into a frame.
For those who want you by their side:
- Get outside. Turn off your phone and other devices, and take a hike (literally). Depending on the weather, you could also pack a picnic or go to a park and swing on the swings. Taking a short road trip to a lookout is another option.
- Take a class. Yoga? Dance? Printmaking? Cooking? The important thing is that you do the activity together. Even if it’s silly or difficult, you’ll have plenty to talk about after it is over.
- See a show. Believe it or not, there are lots of affordable tickets out there. If you are in a major city, consider downloading TodayTix to find deals for the week. Additionally, improv shows and storytelling nights are usually quite cheap and provide a bellyful of laughs.
For those who like physical affection:
- Give them a back rub. This one is pretty straightforward. If you want to pamper them further, run them a bubble bath and light some candles.
- Cuddle on the couch and watch their favorite movie. Rent or stream your partner’s favorite flick, make some hot chocolate or other special drink, and get cozy together.
- Hold hands and take a walk. Consider taking a tour to a new part of town or spending the stroll appreciating things about your neighborhood you never noticed.
Remember that cheap Valentine's Day gifts and dates are not disappointing if they are thoughtful. Cater to your partner’s love language, and they will appreciate how in tune you are with their needs. Good luck, and happy Valentine's Day from everyone at Student Caffé!