So, you forgot to plan something for Valentine’s Day. Or maybe you didn’t forget, but you were so paralyzed by choices that you never settled on one and now you’re out of luck. Or you did plan one, but things fell through and you need a quick fix. Whatever happened, you’re here now, so let’s not mourn what could have been—let’s be proactive about the future.
If you’re trying to spend less and save more, you need some date ideas, and you need them cheap. Here are a few that won’t set you back a dime and will still make memories.
Chopped: Valentine’s Day Edition
You’ve seen Chopped? The Food Network show where chefs open a box of surprise ingredients and have to whip up a dish for the judges? Throw together your own, personal version of that, using whatever ingredients you’ve already got in the house. Divvy out the portions, use the internet and a little creativity to your advantage, and challenge yourselves—as a couple—to create a special dish, without going to the store to pick up some exotic spice you’ll never use again. Sure, maybe the final product won’t exactly be Michelin star worth, but the memories will be fun.
Babysit for Someone Else
Not the culinary type? Offer to help make someone else’s Valentine’s Day a little better by providing some free childcare for their evening.
This sounds like a drag, but it’s actually got all the makings of a pretty decent date. Once the kid (or kids) go to bed, you’ve got a house to yourself, a selection of movies at your disposal and, who knows, maybe a pantry or wine fridge that you’ve been given permission to help yourself to. You’re doing something nice for someone else and providing a ready-made evening for yourself as well.
Incredibly enough, the United States is full of huge buildings full of books that are absolutely free for you to peruse and enjoy at your leisure. Usually, heading to the library is a solitary adventure, but there’s no reason it has to be. For most people, books are a huge part of their lives and development. Take your partner to a library and peruse books from your formative years together. Find passages from copies of books like A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia and Kindred that moved you and read them to each other. Or go back even further, to books like Where the Wild Things Are and Goodnight, Moon. The only thing better than a walk down memory lane is a date on memory lane.
Volunteer at a Nonprofit
This is the sort of thing that sounds good in theory but in your mind, you’re thinking, “Well, we’re not actually gonna do that.” But here’s the thing: Why not? Volunteering is a great way to spend time together. You can learn a lot about someone by watching them serve others, and find a whole new side of them to fall in love with that you didn’t even know existed. And as if that wasn’t enough, you’re also doing something objectively kind—helping make the world a better place. It may not be romantic per se, but it’s a good thing and if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to get to know your partner better, you can hardly go wrong here.
Create Your Own Board Game
You’ll be shocked at how easy it is. All you need is some paper, something to write with and your whole entire imagination. You can borrow some dice or a buzzer from another game you have lying around the house, if you need, but you don’t even really need that. Make a game full of inside jokes and things from your own story. Create your own rules and make them as weird as you want. Want rules that change based on the time of day? You want a game that incorporates watching old episodes of The Good Place for some reason? Want to involve candy? Tacos? Naps? The only rules are the ones you create.
Tyler Huckabee is RELEVANT's senior editor. He lives in Nashville with his wife, dog and Twitter account.