How to Save on Valentine's Day Gifts

According to a 2006 Valentine's Day Consumer Survey conducted by BIG research, consumers will spend an average of $100.89 on Valentine's Day, up from $97.27 last year.

Sixty-one percent of consumers plan to celebrate the holiday, and men plan to spend twice as much as women. Consumers spend the most on their spouse or significant other ($64.63), followed by purchases for their other family members ($20.74), friends ($5.06), co-workers and neighbors ($4.38), and children's classmates and teachers ($3.52).

What are people spending all that money on? Not surprisingly, 62 percent of consumers plan to buy greeting cards, 47 percent plan to buy candy, 42 percent celebrate with an evening out and 11 percent give gift cards or gift certificates. More than half of men and 14 percent of women plan to buy flowers. The Society of American Florists reports that Valentine's Day is the largest holiday for floral sales.

The good news is that you can celebrate Valentine's Day for less than the average amount spent if you know where to look for special deals and coupons.

Save on flowers:

If you plan to send flowers to your valentine, be sure to take advantage of online coupon codes for many florists. You can find these on any coupon code Web site, or you can search the term "flower coupon code" in a search engine. If you are looking for a specific floral retailer, enter its name to get more specific results. You can save as much as 10 percent to 20 percent on floral orders with these coupons.

You can save big by buying flowers at your local grocery store or wholesale club. I have had a very good experience with my grocery store's flowers, and you can expect to pay half the cost of flowers delivered by a florist.

Dare to be different! Although roses are the most popular flower purchased on Valentine's Day, you will pay less than half for other varieties like tulips (my favorite). For example, my grocery store sells a dozen red roses for $19.99, and a beautiful bouquet of pink tulips costs $5.99. If I used FTD.com, an online florist, I would pay $69.99 for a dozen premium long-stemmed roses plus the cost of shipping (after the $10 online coupon is deducted), but I can buy a 15 stem-tulip bouquet for $19.99 (after the coupon), and the tulip bouquet includes free shipping!

Save on greeting cards:

Look in the grocery store advertising circulars this week for greeting card coupons and special offers, such as "buy 3 cards, get 1 free."

Make your own cards. Be creative with inexpensive supplies like construction paper, paper doilies, markers or crayons, or use free printable cards from the Internet. Enter the term "printable Valentines Day cards" in a search engine and you will find several sites that allow you to create, customize and print either color or black and white cards from your own computer.

Save the cost of a card and postage by sending free e-cards to long-distance friends and relatives. Greeting card Web sites like American Greetings and Hallmark have free e-cards available. You can also enter the words "free e-cards" in a search engine to find several options.

Check a local dollar store for inexpensive greeting cards.

Save on restaurants:

Although there are many coupons and discounted restaurant programs available, most restaurants do not accept them on holidays such as Valentine's Day. Therefore, consider avoiding the crowds and go out to eat before or after Valentine's Day to save with coupons.

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