If using a coupon at dinner sounds like a romance killer, try booking your reservation online with www.dinnerbroker.com 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 russellstover.com 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.