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How to do Valentine’s Day without going broke

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut on Valentine’s Day, going out for an over-priced dinner and buying the same uninspired gifts every year. Enjoying a special Valentine’s Day with your partner doesn’t need to be expensive.

This Valentine’s Day, take inspiration from these romantic moments from TV, film, books and real life to show your partner how much you care in a much more original and heart-warming way.

A musical journey

In the musical film Begin Again, one of the hit movies of 2014, the two main characters walk around New York listening to their favourite songs together on headphones. It’s a beautiful way to explore a city, seeing it in a new light while listening to music instead of the usual urban sounds, and a chance to share some of your favourite songs with your partner.

Dream night in

The Big Bang Theory actress Kaley Cuoco recently revealed the details of her favourite date night surprise from her husband, Ryan Sweeting. The couple are big fans of the reality TV series The Bachelor so, on the night of the next episode, Ryan prepared romantic lighting, ordered in food and they shared a special night in enjoying their favourite show together.

Scavenger hunt

The French film Amélie has some adorably eccentric romantic moments. One which you could take inspiration from for Valentine’s Day is the scavenger hunt which Amélie sets out for Nino, the boy she likes. She places clues around Paris for him to follow until they eventually meet and fall in love. You could imitate this to lead your partner to the location of a surprise Valentine’s date or gift.

More: Decorate your nails for Valentine’s Day

Romantic meal

One of the most iconic romantic moments in a movie is not between humans but between dogs. In the Disney film Lady and the Tramp the two titular animals fall in love over a candlelit Italian dinner. They eat spaghetti and meatballs and have their first kiss. If you can’t afford to go out to a fancy restaurant this year, this is a sweet moment that you can recreate at home, perfect for Disney fans and animal lovers.


If you and your partner are big music fans, then a mixtape is the ideal cheap yet very personal gift. Choose songs that bring back memories or represent how you feel about the relationship to ensure the mixtape is a present they will treasure forever. Mixtapes appear as romantic gifts in many books, for example One Day by David Nicholls, where indie music lover Emma Morley makes several mixtapes during her on-off romance with Dexter Mayhew.

More: Make your own Valentine’s cookies

Video tribute

Romantic gestures don’t just happen in the movies. This point was proven by Indian photographer Vipurva Parikh, who used his skills to show his girlfriend she was still close to his heart while he went travelling for a month. Along the way he got people he met to pose for photos holding up signs showing the lyrics of the song “Wish You Were Here” by Ryan Adams. If you can’t be with your partner this Valentine’s Day, why not make a special video message for them?

Love letter

One of the characters in the romantic comedy film Love Actually does something similar to Vipurva’s video message but he does it in person. Mark (Andrew Lincoln) comes to Juliet (Keira Knightley)’s door and uses cue cards to tell her how he feels because he can’t keep it a secret any longer. You could do this at home or, if you’re brave and want the world to know how you feel, you could do it out in public.

Lunch break date

Why not surprise your significant other at work during the day with a mini-date in their lunch break? In the comedy TV series How I Met Your Mother, during the season three episode “Ten Sessions,” creative romantic Ted manages to fit in lunch and a movie in just two minutes. His aim is to prove to Stella that she does have time for romance. So, no matter how busy your partner is, you can squeeze in a romantic moment on Valentine’s Day.

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