Valentine's Day is a day when couples express their love for each other by sending cards, giving flowers, or offering heart-shaped boxes of delectable confections.

Valentine's Day is a day when couples express their love for each other by sending cards, giving flowers, or offering heart-shaped boxes of delectable confections.

And it's one of my favorite holidays - a holiday on which my husband and I got married 23 years ago.

There are many heartfelt and romantic ways to set the tone of the day. Wake up early and place a card or a rose on your love's pillow. This is a surefire and budget-friendly way to get Valentine's Day started. Or place a card where your love will find it first thing in the morning. I've placed cards in my husband's car taped to the steering wheel or in his briefcase.

Do something unexpected. A few years ago I surprised my husband at work with a gift basket. I went to The Dollar Tree, where I bought a basket with hearts etched on it, red paper grass and his favorite candy. I made arrangements to drop it off to his co-worker, whose mission was to place it on his desk in the morning when he wasn't around. It was quite an unexpected surprise!

If you want to send flowers, you don't need to send the most expensive ones. Ask the florist to put together a colorful but less expensive arrangement. Cookie bouquets, balloon bouquets and gourmet popcorn are other frugal ideas.

But Valentine's Day doesn't have to be all about candy and flowers. Why not surprise your other half by buying him something you know he's been wanting and will appreciate even more? Years ago I told my husband not to waste money on flowers. I would rather get something that will keep for more than three or four days, such as a new bottle of perfume or jewelry. After all, I am a pragmatist.

If going out to dinner is too expensive, go out to lunch. The foodprices are generally less expensive. While at the restaurant, give your sweetheart a small gift, perhaps a box of chocolate truffles which you can buy for under $5. Many stores have sales on their boxes of candy. Watch the weekly ads to see when your favorite store offers Valentine's Day bargains.

Send a text to your sweetheart with the simple message of "I love you." Little messages throughout the day don't cost anything.

The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion Valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second-largest card-sending holiday of the year, behind Christmas. Instead of the typical Valentine's Day card, write a letter on pretty stationery and express how much someone means to you.

Plan a special dinner for your sweetheart. You can dine in at a fraction of what you would spend at a restaurant. Prepare two bacon-wrapped filet mignons with twice-baked potatoes and a vegetable. Make or buy a decadent chocolate dessert. Don't forget the candles and background music to set the romantic mood.

Remember, celebrating your love doesn't have to cost a lot of money.

For now, happy Valentine's Day!


Laurie Dixon is central Ohio's original BAG Lady! Read her blog every day on TheBAG.com. Get savings tips on everything from food to fun. Learn to shop smart and save money!