12 Valentine's Day Ideas Your Date (and Your Wallet!) Will Love

TAKE OUT YOUR HONEY FOR LESS MONEY

With Valentine's Day looming -- and Feb. 14 falling on a weekend -- many couples are making extravagant plans. But Valentine's Day can present a serious financial challenge, especially to a bank account still recovering from the winter holidays. If you don't have the cash (or patience) for dinner at a fancy restaurant crowded by every other couple in town, alternatives abound. These romantic date ideas will have you sipping fine wine, sharing an elegant dessert, or holding your sweetheart close for very little money.

GO ICE SKATING

Ice skating is a perfect activity for new couples -- what better way to encourage hand-holding and a few laughs, and maybe even set the tone to get closer as the date goes on? Don't be discouraged by cold temperatures. Public skating is often free or inexpensive at indoor rinks, with skate rental available for a small fee.

SIP ON HOT CHOCOLATE

If you'd rather skip straight to cozying up with hot chocolate, take a date to a bakery or coffee shop you've been wanting to try. Some of the best hot cocoa in the country costs only a few dollars a cup.

GIVE EACH OTHER MASSAGES

Couples who don't want to go to a pricey and crowded spa for the 14th can exchange massages at home. But don't just do a quick rub of the shoulders and be done with it. Create a peaceful refuge with candles and soft music to make the experience more spa-like and relaxing.

COOK A GOURMET MEAL

Good food doesn't require a fancy restaurant or an exclusive reservation. With some research and coupon clipping, you can grocery shop your way to fine dining at home. Look for delicious but simple recipes such as mushroom risotto, roast chicken, or spaghetti carbonara and impress a date with your cooking skills -- or laugh about your mistakes. Surprise your partner with a table set for two, complete with candles and your best dishes to enhance the romantic ambience.

SEE A PLAY

Take advantage of inexpensive tickets to a community theater play. Even in big cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, tickets can be found for less than $20. Look for shows that will be in previews on Valentine's weekend -- tickets for the performances preceding opening night typically sell for a reduced rate.
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GO WINDOW SHOPPING

Take a cue from a romantic Hollywood favorite, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and partake in some good old-fashioned window shopping. Taking a stroll around town hand-in-hand with a significant other is always nice, and popping in to new and quirky shops could make for a sweet and laid-back Valentine's date.

GO OUT DANCING

Dancing doesn't need to cost more than a drink or two at a favorite dance-friendly bar or restaurant. Take a peek to see which bars or clubs have cover-free events on Valentine's Day weekend, then get out and practice your moves.

TAKE A BUBBLE BATH

If you really want to lay low and stay inside where it's warm, go with a Valentine's favorite: a romantic bubble bath. Light some candles, put on some music, and enjoy some relaxing time together.

HAVE A ROM-COM MARATHON

Love the idea of a Valentine's Day movie? Skip the overpriced tickets and concessions and have a movie marathon in the comfort of your living room. Choose some favorite sweet and silly films, pop some popcorn, dim the lights, and cuddle up together.

TAKE A DRIVE

Create a playlist of all the songs that make you think of your partner or mark a milestone in your relationship, then hop in the car to listen and reminisce. You don't have to have any destination in mind. Act like teenagers and just cruise around and enjoy each other's company -- or head to a scenic spot and park for a while.

MAKE DESSERT TOGETHER

Valentine's Day is certainly a favorite day for anyone with a sweet tooth. To indulge in a decadent treat without dining out, roll up your sleeves and try making an easy dessert such as banana whipped cream pie or cinnamon sugar bites. Baking together will make a flour, sugar, egg, and butter creation truly memorable.
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