For crying out loud people, don't go out to dinner tonight! Don't buy an eighty dollar bouquet of roses! Don't buy a fifty dollar box of Godiva chocolates. According to the National Retail Federation, the average individual will spend $119.67 on Valentine's Day. Not couple, individual. Men, of course, spend more on this day, an average of $156.22, versus an average of $85.08 for women. That's $241.30 per couple! Oh the madness. Look, you can still be romantic without blowing your budget. Guys, if you want to give your ladies a romantic meal, flowers and candies, I'll show you how to do it for under fifty bucks.
- Instead of going out to a crowded restaurant and either waiting two hours, or making reservations five months in advance for the privilege of being forced their "prix-fixe" menu, make a nice dinner at home. Seriously guys, women love it when you cook. If you don't know how to cook, don't get overly ambitious. Your woman already knows that you can't cook. ANY attempt (think spaghetti with sauce out of a jar, brownies from a box mix) will win you MAJOR points. More on this below.
- Get your flowers at Home Depot. Whatever you do, do NOT go to your local florist or internet florist and spend $80 for a dozen roses. You can get the same thing at Home Depot for about twelve bucks.
- Skip the Godivas or other high end fancy chocolates. Remember the conversation heart candies? Little chalky candies with phrases such as "be mine" or "kiss me" printed on them. It's cute, it's playful. Way better than a $50 box of chocolates.
- Do you really have to give gifts? If you followed my advice above: made a romantic dinner at home, gave her flowers purchased from the Home Depot, and spent the night laughing over the cute phrases on the heart candies, you're done. What are you going to bust out a tennis bracelet after all this?
More on the home cooked meal thing.
- The setting. All the usual trappings. Use the best silverware and flatware that you own. Don't go out buying a bunch of new stuff. That defeats the purpose. Again, you're significant other knows what stuff you own. She'll be happy to see you using the good stuff, even if it's the chipped hand-me-downs from Mom. Get some candles. Tall ones for the table. A few votives strewn about elsewhere. Set the table before she gets there. If you live together, kick her out for a few hours. Make it a surprise if possible. Have a friend drag her out and get her home on time.
- If you have roommates, you'll need to work with them. If they are in relationships, they will likely be going out, thus staying out of your way. If not, kick them out. If you live with a decent human being, this shouldn't be a problem.
- The food. Again, she already knows that you can't cook. If you can, you don't need my help. If you can't try this...
- Salad. Get a bad of mixed green salad from your grocer's produce department. Add some walnuts, cherry tomatoes cut in half, one small apple cut in small wedges (put three slices per salad), and a handful of grapes cut in half. Add your favorite bottle of Paul Newman's salad dressing, and you have an instant Waldorf salad. Total cost, maybe eight bucks.
- Entree. I'm serious about the spaghetti. Boil some noodles. In a small sauce pan, brown a small amount of ground beef, dump in a jar of your favorite sauce, and add parmesan cheese to your liking. That's it. Get some ready made garlic bread if you like. Total cost, maybe another eight bucks.
- Dessert. Get a box of Betty Crocker cupcake mix and white frosting. Make the cupcakes according to the directions, after they cool, add frosting, and put two of your conversational candy hears on each cupcake. Make sure the phrases on the cupcake that you give to your significant other are appropriate. Total cost, what five bucks?
That's it. Enjoy. You just gave your lady a romantic dinner, flowers and candy on Valentine's Day for under fifty bucks.