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Frugal & Unique Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Anniversary, and Birthday Gifts for the Shoestring BudgetBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Holidays can break a budget. Whether it's Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, a birthday, or anniversary, how to save money? Valentine's Day is a fun, special day for so many people. It's a day to celebrate love, romance, togetherness, and family — and it can be expensive.
While Valentine's Day's origins are believed to date back to 270 A.D. in Rome, it wasn't until 1537 that St. Valentine's Day was declared an official holiday. It was England's King Henry VIII who declared February 14 a holiday.
If you're on a limited budget, finding an inexpensive, but thoughtful and romantic Valentine's Day gift can be stressful. Many choices out there are silly or frivolous (to you women: most men do NOT want a stuffed teddy bear holding a stuffed heart as a gift). Others just don't adequately express your feelings, what you have in your heart.
Here are some frugal, practical ideas to keep your cash outlay down this Valentine's Day, without sacrificing romance. These ideas can be adapted for anniversaries, birthdays, Mother's Day, Christmas, or other special occasions.
Remember, though... the best gifts are those that are given from the heart.
Personalize it: If you prefer buying gifts and don't have the time, talent, or desire to make a romantic Valentine's Day craft gift for your special girl or guy, one unique way to keep it practical—but still give the gift your own creative, romantic touch—is to have a Valentine gift personalized with a significant, loving inscription or with that person's name put on it. The sky's the limit on gift items that can be personalized, such as photo frames, sexy lingerie, T-shirts, jewelry, travel coffee mugs, bookmarks, tote bags, or even bath robes.
Romantic gifts for Valentine's Day don't have to be expensive, whimsical, or impractical (every dollar counts during this economic recession, after all), and they also needn't be cold or impersonal. If you don't have time to drive to the mall, shopping online for a unique, personalized gift is a wise time saver. Be sure to allow enough time for shipping; read the vendor's guidelines.
Valentine's Day trivia: In England, the Romans, who had taken over the country, had introduced a pagan fertility festival held every February 14. Nearly a century later, after the Romans left England, the pagan ritual was abolished by Pope Gelsius, who established St. Valentine's Day as a celebration of love in 496 A.D.
Say it with flowers... SILK flowers: Roses are still the Number 1 flower choice at Valentine's Day and are given by women as well as men. However, the cash to be forked out can be stroke-inducing, with a dozen, fresh red roses costing $50 or more, delivery extra. Instead of buying expensive flowers that will die in a few days, consider buying those made from silk. Silk roses (or any other flower) are a beautiful, frugal alternative. Many look like the real thing and are perfect for loved ones who have allergies.
The dollar stores often have a good variety of choices. You can opt for a vase arrangement (Goodwill, other thrift stores, yard sales, and discount outlets like Ross often have beautiful vases at a fraction of their original price) with a dozen or more flowers, or you can go with the "less is more" gift.
Select a few silk flowers, arrange them in a narrow-necked vase, and pour in sand, pebbles, or marbles (clear ones if the vase is transparent) to anchor them. Or, if the vase's neck is wide enough, plunge the stem ends into a small piece of cut craft foam.
You can make any silk flower arrangement permanent by pouring in a few inches of a quick-dry craft plaster. Wicker baskets can also be used for a beautiful flower arrangement that will never die. With some inexpensive plastic wrap, recycled ribbon and lace, and some red or pink tissue paper, any group of silk flowers can be made into a "chic but cheap" bouquet. Check out floral store websites for ideas on the flower arrangement or bouquet you want to create, or save time and spend a bit more money ordering a silk flower arrangement from an online store.
Not interested in giving silk flowers and still have your heart set on giving your special someone one of the ultimate romantic gifts, that of a dozen red roses — a dozen beautiful, sweet-smelling, live red roses for Valentine's Day... but are on a tight budget and need to save some money on your romantic purchase?
Well, believe it or not, there are cost-saving specials out there... you can get a free delivery on those red roses for Valentine's Day from some online florists. Some are offering discounts, some are also offering same-day delivery. But you need to act quickly, since some specials end prior to Valentine's Day.
Valentine's Day rose trivia: California produces about 60 percent of American roses, but the greatest amount sold for Valentine's Day in the United States are imported, mostly from South America. Approximately 110 million roses, the majority red-colored (red roses are designated for romance and mean "I love you," the color yellow symbolizes friendship, deep pink conveys thanks, medium pink represents happiness, orange symbolizes desire, and white roses combined with red represent unity) will be sold and delivered within a 3-day time period.
Chic and cheap mini-vacation package: This year, your budget may be so thin and limited that you know that you and your beloved can't get away for a romantic Valentine's Day mini-vacation. So, instead, make a fun "stay-at-home mini-vacation package" gift for your sweetheart. Find an attractive, large wicker or plastic basket in which to put inexpensive items that help create the mood and atmosphere of your mini-vacation... without ever having to leave your house or apartment.
To recreate the feel of a sensuous Caribbean cruise, in the basket include items like cocoa-butter scented sunscreen, a CD of Beach Boys or Bob Marley music, all the ingredients for making pina coladas (including those cute little paper umbrellas and two nice stemmed glasses... again, cocktail glasses can be found for a dollar or less at Goodwill), a few seashells, and a plush beach towel (perfect for snuggling up in together). To recreate a mountain ski trip that you both want to take but can't afford this year, include hot cocoa mix, small ski accessories, flavored lip balm, a cinnamon-apple candle, spice-scented massage oils, some small imported cheeses and a bottle of white wine, and a romantic music CD, like Barry White or a mellow instrumental. You get the picture... use your ingenuity, and be sure to scope out any remaining clearance areas at the stores at the mall. Many Christmas items may be appropriate to use for your mini-vacation package and are up to 90 percent off. Decorate the basket with any remnant red, pink, white, or fuchsia ribbons you may have, or recycle scraps of lace. Find and include a copy of his or her "must-have" book from a discount online book store or local used book store, and the Valentine's Day stay-at-home mini-vacation gift is ready.
Valentine's Day superstition: During the 17th century, a hopeful maiden, wanting a husband, would eat a hard-boiled egg and pinned five bay leaves to her pillow before going to sleep on Valentine's eve. The belief was that this would make her dream of her future husband.
Chocolate rules!: It's estimated that, in America, $45 million will be spent on food (including chocolate) and wine this Valentine's Day. Buying and giving a box of chocolates on Valentine's Day is always appreciated and enjoyed, but it's not terribly unique. So, have some fun and make your own chocolates to give to your special guy or gal. Making chocolate candies yourself will impress your loved one, and you'll save money because they're usually cheaper for you to make than to buy. Package them in a nice tin or box (tins are inexpensive at thrift stores or the dollar stores).
These would also be appreciated as birthday, anniversary, or Mother's Day gifts.
Here's an easy recipe for Chocolate-Covered Cherries, from Meredith at AllRecipes.com (Meredith wrote that they taste best when they've aged a bit, so make these chocolates a week or two before giving them):
- 60 maraschino cherries with stems
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons corn syrup
- 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
- 1 pound chocolate confectioners' coating
- Drain cherries and set on paper towels to dry.
- In a medium bowl, combine butter and corn syrup until smooth. Stir in confectioners' sugar and knead to form a dough. Chill to stiffen if necessary. Wrap each cherry in about 1 teaspoon of dough. Chill until firm.
- Melt confectioners' coating in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Dip each cherry in by its stem, and place on waxed paper-lined sheets. Chill until completely set. Store in an airtight container in a cool place.
- Best when eaten after 1 or 2 weeks.
Chocolate trivia: It's reported that advertising and World Wars I and II (where US soldiers received chocolate as part of their rations) increased the popularity of chocolate. Today, over 3 billion tons of cacao supplies a 35-billion-dollar chocolate industry. And for the record, Richard Cadbury invented the first Valentine's Day candy box in the late 1800s.
DIY Valentine's Day cards: Do-it-yourself Valentine's Day cards are a wonderful way to fully express yourself, while saving money. These video demonstrations on how to make your own Valentine's Day cards will help you get your creative, frugal juices flowing.
Valentine's Day card trivia: Hallmark has more than 1,300 different cards specifically for Valentine's Day. Cupid, one of several symbols of Valentine's Day, became associated with the holiday because he was the son of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Cupid often appears on Valentine cards holding a bow and arrows because he is believed to use magical arrows to inspire feelings of love.
Ku-Ku CARD-3D Heart/Corazon 3D
Make A Card Monday - Easy Valentine's Day Card
Make A Card Monday - 'Punched Hearts' Card
Make A Card Monday - Robot - Valentine's Day
eHow: Valentine's Day Card Brainstorming Tips for Text to Write in Card
Inexpensive Valentine's Day Bedroom Romance Decor: You can create a romantic atmosphere in the bedroom for Valentine's Day without having to spend a fortune. Meg from Threadbanger offers a number of creative, DIY ideas in this demonstration video.Threadbanger: How to Make Your Bedroom Romantic, Meg's Valentine's Day 'Decor It Yourself' Special
Valentine's Day origins trivia: There's a tiny village in Quebec named Saint-Valentin. It was reportedly named that because the first mass was believed to have been held there on Valentine's Day in 1810. Today, the town named for the patron saint of lovers is a popular destination for letters sent by stamp collectors looking for unusual postmarks to add to their collection. Permission was granted by the Canada Post to let Saint-Valentin use a special heart-shaped postmark. In 1999, collectors throughout Quebec and other Canadian provinces sent more than 6,000 Valentine's Day cards to get the special stamp.
Final Valentine's Day trivia: More than 110,000 marriage licenses are issued each year in Las Vegas. The most popular wedding days there are New Year's Eve and St. Valentine's Day. And, in the United States, 64 percent of men do not make plans in advance for a romantic Valentine's Day with their sweethearts.
DIY Recycled Fashion: ThreadBanger Video Demo: Valentine's Day Special – How to Make Recycled Flannel Lingerie
Frugal Café Blog Zone Cooking: Valentine's Day Cooking Lessons: How to Cook a Romantic Dinner: Pecan Chicken with Mustard and Coeur a la Creme Dessert (video)
Cheapskate Lifestyle: Thrift Store Shopping Exploding As People Rediscover the Savings & Joys of Second-Hand Bargains
Frugal Café Blog Zone: Rejecting Outrageous Costs of School Proms: Parents & Students Seeking Bargains, Second-hand & DIY Evening Wear, & Cutting Out Frills to Save Money (video)
Piece of Cake: Cake Baking Tips & Fabulous 1930 Layered Chocolate Cake with Fruit Filling Recipe
Frugal Café Blog Zone: Frugal Japanese-Inspired, Eco-Friendly Christmas Candy Gift Wrap & More "Cheap but Chic" Christmas Ideas (video)
Frugal Café Blog Zone: Christmas on a Shoestring: Frugal Origami Christmas Ornaments, Using Old Phonebooks (video)
Frugal Café Blog Zone: Frugal Christmas Freebies: Free Christmas Music Downloads, Free Online Radio Listening to Christmas Tunes
Frugal Café Blog Zone: Merry Frugal Christmas! Homemade Soup As Thrift-minded Gifts from the Heart
Frugal Café Blog Zone: Gotta Make 'Em Laugh: Links to Clean, Christian, & Kid Joke Sites
Recycle & Reuse Holiday Cards
Dreaming of a Penny-Pinching Christmas
Having Money Requires Planning, Not Luck: FeedThePig.org Has Fun Providing Common-Sense Solutions on Saving & Frugality
How the Cookies Crumble... Cookie Magic: How to Easily Change Cookie Textures
AllRecipes.com, Chocolate-Covered Cherries, (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Chocolate-Covered-Cherries-2/Detail.aspx).
Brain Candy website, Valentine's Day trivia (http://www.corsinet.com/braincandy/valtrivia.html).
Cool Quiz website, (http://www.coolquiz.com/trivia/directory/search.asp).
Facts-About-Chocolate.com, "Who Invented Chocolate?", (http://www.facts-about-chocolate.com/chocolate-history.html).