It seems like the holidays that are about telling others we care about them are the ones that stress people out the most. We want to make sure we’re doing enough to prove to the people we care about that they’re worth our time and energy.

But while everybody complains about shopping for Christmas and other December holidays, there isn’t one set way to celebrate Valentine’s Day for people to collectively worry about.

Some might think having so many options for Valentine’s Day means there’s a lot that can go wrong, but it also means there are many ways it could go right.

And if you know what you’re doing, the best options don’t necessarily have to be the most expensive ones.

Valentine’s DIY

As is often the case, the cheapest way to do things is to do it yourself. This will require having a good eye for what you and your significant other would enjoy together and what kind of moments they’d cherish with you. But if you two really are that close, that shouldn’t be too hard.

“The Way to Someone’s Heart…”

A common trope for Valentine’s Day is the idea of a romantic dinner, and many interpret that to mean going out to a fancy restaurant and spending insane amounts of money. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

If you’re creative and resourceful, you can pull off a great dinner at home. Perhaps don’t make it too plain. Spaghetti and meatballs at the kitchen counter might not go over too well (unless you and your partner both have a very specific sense of humor about it).

Try to mix it up by whipping up a more complex dish and set up a “restaurant” table in your living room. Or try eating in another, more intimate room of the house? Implement some candles and some mood lighting – or if you have access to a fireplace, you should absolutely incorporate it.

Take the space and resources you have and rethink them to match the mood you’re going for.

The Thought that Counts

Just like dinner, you really don’t need to pony up for presents if you think outside the heart-shaped box.

The single oldest tradition of Saint Valentine’s Day is writing and exchanging cards and letters, based on the namesake saint writing letters of devotion to the love of his life while Val himself was in prison.

Nowadays cards are often an afterthought, something bought at the store and given almost out of obligation. But if you make a card yourself and write the message personally and passionately, it will be much more valuable than the paper it’s written on. It’s time to show off your wordsmith skills: moments like these are why they made you take a creative writing class in high school.

Other gifts can either be made yourself or personalized. Look online for instructions on how to make your own heart-shaped candy box; you’ll find plenty. Then you can either buy candy to fill it with or make your own.

Delectable treats like chocolate-dipped strawberries, chocolate-covered cherries, and heart-shaped cookies can be made relatively cheaply and easily, and again will add a sense of personal work put into the gift.

One more thing that really can be applied to any gift-giving occasion: spend your time with your significant other instead of spending lots of money on them.

If your idea of a great Valentine’s Day includes couples’ activities, think of something that isn’t inherently romantic, but would be special because it’s something you both know you’ll both enjoy.

Go to a museum or a shopping mall or a swimming pool (maybe an indoor one – it is February, after all). Or just watch a movie at home away from all the other couples desperately trying to salvage the night. Let the point be clear that the best ideas might just be to take the mundane and transform it into a special occasion.

Great Night, Great Value

Maybe you still want to go big on this special night, but you just want to save money while doing it.

In that case, the first step is obvious: don’t be afraid to utilize coupons and discounts. There’s no shame in wanting to get the same experience for a cheaper price. If your partner thinks less of you for using a coupon, well, that may be an altogether different issue to sort out.

As for the things that don’t get coupons, the key is to buy smart and use efficiently.

Maybe you want to give your significant other a huge bouquet of roses, but don’t forget that one rose translates into many petals that can be strategically used to perfect the atmosphere of any room of your house.

Speaking of roses, don’t be afraid to look into other types of flowers that might not be as iconic but are still gorgeous. And whatever flowers you buy, buy them in-person from a store. Use either a professional florist or (for cheaper) a grocery store with a floral section because flowers bought online always cost an exorbitant amount due to shipping. February isn’t rose-growing season in the States, but it is in the Southern Hemisphere.

Do you want to buy diamonds or jewelry? If neither you nor your partner is an expert on gemstones, you can probably just ignore any that look clearly ugly or imperfect and take your pick from the most inexpensive of the rest. The goal of all of this is not to be cheap, but to balance quality, thoughtfulness, and financial sensibility.

The Ultimate Valentine’s Day Hack

Would your partner be hurt or disappointed if the two of you just… waited a day or two? Or maybe even longer?

The best way to save money on Valentine’s Day is to just take a rain check. As soon as February 15th rolls around, gifts and candy go on clearance sales, restaurants aren’t nearly as crowded, and it generally isn’t as expensive to profess your love.

In some ways, it might even be preferable. Save your festivities for a random day a few weeks or months down the road. While the rest of the world is trudging through another boring, mundane day, you and the person you love can be getting along with some belated Valentine’s Day merrymaking. Besides, the weather in February really doesn’t suit the Valentine’s Day mood, now does it?