Last year, after years of ignoring or stumbling awkwardly around Valentine's Day, I finally decided that I wanted to do something to celebrate the holiday. And since most traditional gifts—like roses imported from Chile and jewelry mined at great environmental cost—are far from ecofrugal, Brian and I both came up with alternative gift ideas that fit our personalities and lifestyle. I gave him an e-book with a romantic theme, with a series of heart-shaped notes as clues to help him find it; he gave me a framed photo of our ailing cat (who actually died not long after, so this turned out to be a final memento of her) and a pair of earrings from Ten Thousand Villages.
These gifts struck me as not only less expensive than the typical Valentine offerings, but also much more personal. I thought other people facing the annual Valentine Dilemma might also benefit from some ideas for ways to get around the problem, so I wrote up a piece on the subject for Money Crashers. First, I calculate the cost of several "traditional" Valentine's Day gifts and activities—cards, candy, flowers, jewelry, and a candlelit dinner—and discuss some ways to give gifts along the same lines for less. Then I explore some less traditional alternatives, such as books, music, heart-themed gifts (such as this pillow from IKEA, a cute idea that got cut from the final version of the article), and inexpensive date ideas like a game night or a rented video.
The other good news is that, unlike my article on green gifts for the holidays, this one actually got published far enough ahead of the holiday for it to be useful. So if you're trying to work your way through the Valentine Dilemma, you can find lots of ideas here: 9 Valentine’s Day Ideas on a Budget – Affordable Gifts & Activities