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Affordable Valentine's Day Date and Gift Ideas

Valentine's Day is right around the corner, which often means boxes of chocolate, paper hearts and pricey dinners. But you don't have to break your budget to show someone you love them. Use these date ideas to keep your day romantic without spending a fortune:

-- Cook your own "fancy" dinner.

-- Attend a sporting event.

-- Get mani-pedis together.

-- Take a class together.

-- Rent a cute homestay.

-- Do love-song karaoke.

-- Work out together.

-- Visit a national park.

-- Tour a museum.

[Read: Fantastic Experience Gifts to Give]

Cook Your Own "Fancy" Dinner

Going to a restaurant on Valentine's Day often requires weeks of planning, from making sure you get a reservation to checking the prix fixe menu to make sure it's a good fit. Skip the line by whipping up dinner at home. You don't need to go to culinary school to add love to your favorite recipe. Whether that means ordering a kit from a meal delivery service or shopping for supplies at your local grocery store, the effort and care you put into the meal will definitely make your loved one feel special.

Attend a Sporting Event

There aren't many types of love that run as deep as a sports fanatic's passion for their team. Show your significant other your love by bringing them to a game. It's a different ball game than your typical date night, and it shows that you care about your partner's interests. Beer and hot dogs may not seem like the most romantic dinner, but going into overtime with your favorite teammate wins every time. If major league tickets aren't in your budget, opt for a minor league game. They're often less crowded, which will make for an even nicer evening for couples.

Get Mani-Pedis Together

While you celebrate the love between you and your boo, make sure you celebrate self-love, too. Instead of stressing about a luxury date like something out of a movie, take your lover for some TLC at the salon. You both get to unwind and relax while spending quality time together.

Take a Class Together

You don't need to be with your high school sweetheart to take a class with your person. Be it rock climbing or basket weaving, there are plenty of ways to learn something new and share the experience with someone you love. Check out sites like Groupon or Airbnb to find new hobbies to try in your city.

[See: 8 Money Mistakes Newlyweds Make.]

Rent a Cute Homestay

Since V-Day falls on a Friday this year, it's the perfect opportunity to take a mini getaway with your honey. You don't have to travel far to get some new scenery and enjoy a cozy evening. Use sites like Airbnb or VRBO to find unique and romantic places to stay often for a fraction of the cost of a hotel.

Do Love-Song Karaoke

Karaoke may sound like the opposite of romance, but with the right details it could make for a very sweet evening. Set up an at-home karaoke room or visit your local karaoke bar and sing your favorite love songs as a performance to your muse. You don't have to have Whitney Houston's vocal range to let your boo know you will always love them.

Work Out Together

If you and your partner are both fitness fanatics, spend some time working out together. Especially if you don't normally go to the gym together, this unconventional date is sure to mix things up. Whether you race each other on your favorite running path or push each other to your limits in the weight room, cheering on one another and challenging each other to work harder can be a great way to show your love connection.

Visit a National Park

History buffs and nature lovers probably agree there are few things more romantic than acres upon acres of land protected by the federal government. If you're lucky enough to live close to a national park, consider a visit this Valentine's Day. Take in the scenic views and enjoy some fresh air with a monumental person in your life. If you can't get to a national park, try a state park or even just a local park in your area. Pack a picnic or a thermos depending on the climate.

Tour a Museum

If the outdoors aren't your thing, take a stroll through a museum. It doesn't have to showcase romantic art to be a romantic date. Science or history museums can be just as dreamy if you visit one with someone you love. Try a museum you haven't visited or create a scavenger hunt or other fun activity in a museum you know well. Some museums even offer Valentine's Day-themed events. Check online for events near you.

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Affordable Gift Ideas

Additionally, if you're looking to give your significant other a nice present this Valentine's Day, consider skipping the status quo in favor of more affordable gift options, including:

-- A plant.

-- Baked goods.

-- Vacation fund.

-- Local or handmade gift.


Instead of roses, get a plant. There is something special about receiving a bouquet of flowers -- especially the coveted red roses synonymous with romance. But even roses die after a few days in a vase. A nice plant that your partner can nurture and watch grow should last much longer and look just as nice as a centerpiece.

Baked Goods

Instead of expensive chocolates, bake something. If your honey has a sweet tooth, try baking a treat instead of splurging on candy in a fancy box. Consider finding a new recipe that incorporates his or her favorite ingredients. Alternatively, wait until the day after Valentine's to score some super-discounted goodies.

Vacation Fund

Instead of a weekend getaway, make the first deposit in your vacation savings fund. A small trip might not be in your budget right now, and your partner should understand that. But if you're looking to plan a romantic getaway in the future, this can be a nice gift. Decorate a cute jar or container, then present it with a little startup money to show your commitment to making your dream vacation a reality. Just make sure you keep contributing after the holiday.

Local or Handmade Gift

Instead of diamonds, find a small business to support in your community. Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but unique, handcrafted art might be a close competitor. With sites like Etsy, it's also easy to find handmade, custom jewelry at almost any price point. Skip the jewelry counter and find a local artisan to support.

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