Last Minute Frugal Valentine’s Day Ideas (for kids and spouses)

When is Valentine’s Day again? TOMORROW?! Don’t worry… I’ve got your back. I literally don’t do a THING until the day before to prepare and I don’t spend a penny on this holiday!

(Insert: rant about commercialization of a made-up holiday designed to make you spend money to prove your love…)

Valentine’s Day Decorations

Okay, fine. We planned a LITTLE bit ahead on this one, but I still had to share it because it is literally the GREATEST IDEA EVER (I can’t take credit… I found it on Pinterest years ago and I can’t find the original source…).

Every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (to keep the kids busy on a day off school), we take down all the Christmas cards. We draw big hearts around all the faces and the kids cut them out. They then spend the day sewing (with a needle and thread) all of the hearts together into a big Valentine’s Day garland that we hang in our window.

Valentine Garland

Why I LOVE this idea: You love getting Christmas Cards, but feel guilty taking them down and throwing them in the trash. This gives us a set date to take them off the fridge (MLK day) and it refreshes them into something new. Then, each year, our Valentine’s Day decorations are literally made from pictures of people we love! (Also, after Valentine’s Day, there’s no guilt at all taking the garland down and throwing it in the trash!)

Last Minute School Valentine’s Day Cards

My kids are WAY ahead of me on this one… they’ve been designing and making cards since Christmas with construction paper and water-colored hearts… but you can get your kids to replicate them in one evening! It’s really not that hard! (Also, a secret: Teachers actually love it when they bring cards without names on them… it makes passing them out so much faster! Just have them write a generic note: “Happy Valentine’s Day! Love, Penny”)

If you’re more of a standard grocery-store Valentines card kind of person, did you know that you can find several great options FOR FREE online? Even Curious George has some cute printables you can use! (Yes, I follow Curious George on Facebook, so I get all the updates… also, Curious George’s posts are a breath of fresh air on any Facebook feed.)

Valentine’s Day Activities for Your Kids

Did you know that relatively heart-shaped pancakes with sprinkles are a fan favorite? (Really! Even if you stink at making heart-shapes like I do… the kids love them!) And you’ll have a hard time finding a meal that costs less than pancakes!

heart pancake

A great way to tell your kids you love them is to send them on a Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt. I take regular pieces of white paper that I cut into hearts. On one side of the hearts, I write their names in pen. On the other side of the heart, in a white crayon, I write them notes (ie: I love your smile. I love you. You’re so sweet. etc.). Then, they are sent off to find the hidden hearts around the house (“Only find the ones with your name on them! If you find one that has someone else’s name, put it back and don’t tell them!”). After they each find 10 hearts, they pull out the water colors and paint all ten hearts to find their secret messages! This is a great idea because it’s FREE, it takes very little time to set up, and the kids LOVE finding their hidden hearts and then revealing their secret messages with paint!

Frugal Romantic Valentine’s Day

Maybe I’m weird… but I never found it all that romantic to get a store-bought card with a pre-written message and some grocery store chocolates. (Also, I do love flowers, but have you seen the RIDICULOUS PRICES for roses on Valentine’s Day?! Highway robbery!) If you really want to show your spouse that you care, try making the greatest card ever! How are your drawing skills? Terrible? Awesome! Can you come up with a cheesy one-liner? Perfect! If you want to get more serious about it, get out some fancy stationary and write a perfectly crafted love letter.

Now my love language is food (that one’s not in the book?). But even more than grocery store chocolates, made-with-love baked goods are my jam. If you really want to go special (or can’t figure out how to bake fancy desserts without your spouse knowing), find the BEST DESSERT IN TOWN and order it to-go. Since you’ve spent $0 on this holiday up to this point, spending $8 on that super fancy and amazing chocolate peanut butter pie may be just what you need!

After the kids go to bed, you can crack open some Martinelli’s you have in the garage from New Year’s (just us?) and dive into your fancy desserts! No need to spend obscene amounts of money waiting in crowds at restaurants to eat food that isn’t the best because chefs are forced into mass-producing for this holiday as well.

Also, nothing’s more romantic than a financial date night. Oh, that’s not true? Alright. Whatever works for you… Happy Valentine’s Day!

What are your frugal Valentine’s Day traditions?


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  1. These ideas are all so cute! My sister-in-law does the Pinterest thing where she puts a heart on each of her boys’ doors every day leading up until Valentine’s Day. I think that’s super special, and I can’t believe they still LOVE it (they’re 8 and 6 now). I thought it would fall into the “ewwww gross” category at this age. But it helps them think about how others see them and how they want to be seen. And it’s free! Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your family!

    • MaggieBanks

      I love that idea as well, but I would forget one night and they’d all hate me… better to do it all at once and make them find them! 🙂

  2. Not celebrating it is ours, lol. We were discussing this weekend that we should do something for the kids though, so we’re going to do a special dinner with heart shaped quesadillas. 🙂

    I like the heart garland from Christmas cards idea, that’s a great one, and a good way to reuse the Christmas cards before they hit the circular filing bin.

    • MaggieBanks

      Yes… what I posted about is the sum total of what we do for Valentine’s Day! 🙂

  3. It’s not a ‘frugal tradition’ so much as a thrifty money-saver, but I always get Valentine’s balloons at the Dollar Tree store. They have TONS of balloons for $1 — much cheaper than the local Party City store or Target.

  4. I LOVE all of these ideas. We don’t have much planned for Valentine’s Day right now, but there’s still time (says the master procrastinator). I do know that we won’t be buying any expensive gifts or visit fancy restaurants. The kids do love doughnuts – maybe I could find some fun heart-shaped ones for a special breakfast.

    • MaggieBanks

      oh come on… you know you want to see if you’re better at heart-shaped pancakes than I am! 🙂

  5. We went on our first date on February 13, and we’ve always celebrated by going back to the same brewpub. We’re out of the area this year, but we’ll find something similar here in Mexico. The nice thing about the timing is that we feel no need to do anything for Valentine’s Day the next day! I always felt like it was a more fun holiday for kids anyway.

    • MaggieBanks

      Awww. So sweet. And yes, the holiday is totally for kids. Though it is fun to make a fancy dessert to pull out as a surprise after the kids go to bed (they don’t need creme brulee! I’ll give THEM the cheap chocolate!)

  6. Jacq

    I totally sent store bought Valentine’s cards to friends and family but I got the pack with 16 cards in it, not like hallmark cards.
    One year my mom and sister made heart shaped pizzas for Valentine’s. I got stuck working til 8pm, but that was great to come home to.
    This year, since it was a Tuesday and I had enchiladas, ‘taco ‘ Tuesday for me. 🙂
    It took a while but I did manage to train my ex to buy me regular m&m’s instead of fancy chocolate.
    I love the scavenger hearts idea!

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