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, 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.

If using a coupon at dinner sounds like a romance killer, try booking your reservation online with and make an early or late reservation to get a discount on your dinner bill. For example, if I went to one of the participating restaurants the day before (or after) Valentine's Day and accepted a 6:30 or 7 p.m. reservation, I would get 20 percent deducted from my bill automatically without having to show a coupon.

Save on candy:

Look for great sale prices on popular chocolate brands in drugstore and grocery store advertising circulars.

Do you want to have fancy chocolates delivered? Look for online coupon codes for candy delivery. For example, at you can sign up for an e-mail newsletter to receive a coupon for $15 off a five-pound box of chocolates. The final cost of the $39.99 five-pound box after the $15 coupon would be $24.99, with standard shipping of $6.95. Free shipping is available for orders of $40 or more shipped to the same address.

For a very frugal option, try an idea I read about years ago. Make your own box of gift chocolates with a small gift box, red tissue paper, and a bag of mini candy bars (like Snickers, Milky Way or Three Musketeers, which are on sale in many stores now). Cut out small squares of red tissue paper for candy wrappers (or buy them at a craft store) and unwrap the candy bars. Put them in the wrappers and arrange them in the box. Wrap the box with a big red ribbon and give a pound of chocolates for about $2! If this idea is too frugal to be considered romantic, your children or grandchildren will love these.

Buy inexpensive paper gift bags at the drugstore or a local craft store for 25 to 50 cents apiece. Fill one bag with Hershey's Kisses, on sale at many stores this week. Top with tissue paper and give a fun, romantic gift that takes only a couple of minutes to make for about $2.

Give Valentine's Day cookies instead. Bake heart-shaped sugar cookies and frost with pink buttercream frosting. Arrange them on a red paper plate wrapped with plastic wrap and a red ribbon. You can also bake heart-shaped Spritz cookies without frosting, put them in a plastic bag inside a paper gift bag topped with tissue paper for less than $1 per gift.