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Love is in the air... Not in your Wallet

V-day is only days away! How will you celebrate? I have never really liked receiving gifts on Valentines day, or any holiday for that matter. I'm not a gracious gift receiver and I usually make a mess of things, but I have the best time giving gifts!

This year with my stringent budget, I might have to improvise on this years festivities. But here are a few ideas you can try out with me.

Cheap ways to celebrate Valentine's day:

Purchase some clear red balloons. Before blowing them up, place either wrapped candies, small gifts, and/or love poems inside each one, and then give them to your loved one as a bouquet.

Cook a favorite meal at home - Instead of going to an expensive restaurant, it is fun to dress up a favorite meal cooked at home. You can light candles on the dinner table, dim the lights, and put on some mood music. It is also possible to duplicate expensive meals at home at wholesale costs if you are adept at cooking.

Knit a scarf. Keep the physical warmth in your relationship along with the sentimental warmth.

Write a love letter to say I love you.

Create handmade coupons with gifts your partner can use anytime, such as a massage or a night out on the town with friends. Does your partner ever ask you why you love them? Then create your own little booklet using dollar store items just for them entitled, "Why I Love You: Reasons".

Make a mixed CD of all of your favorite songs, or create a compilation of love songs that remind you of your mate. Better yet, learn how to play one of these love songs on the guitar and serenade him or her on Valentine's Day.

Grab some construction paper and cut out as many hearts as you like. On each one, share a story about your relationship that shows how much you care. Once finished, take the hearts and string them individually from the ceiling so it looks like your home is raining love.

Take time off. If you both have some vacation time built up, put in for a day off and spend it together.

Volunteer. If you're both socially conscious (and also adding in the fact that Valentine's Day is on a Saturday this year), why not spend the day involved with a volunteer project together instead of doing the typical date thing?

Create Valentine's day crafts This site has a lot of great ideas

Take a walk or hike together - Once my husband and I walked for a few hours on the beach and collected seaglass, and we turned it into a bit of a competition to see who found the biggest piece. When you walk together you see the world differently than from your TV or your car and I think it is romantic because walking makes the world and your lover seem more real and tangible.

Creatively use free flower petals - Usually florists throw away the outside petals of flowers to make the flowers they sell look perfect. Each day if you just go by a florist they will probably have a lot of free flower petals for people to take. You can take these petals and do many things with them. For example, you can decorate the dinner table, bed, or float the petals in a bath.

Surprise your significant other at times you usually do not see him or her - If you work in different places then it would be fun to have a surprise lunch date set up for your mate. Of course, do not do this if your partner does not like to be bothered at work or if they are embarassed by you.

Take photographs together and of each other - After being together for a bit you may find that you do not actually have that many photographs of each other. It is fun to just set aside a time to pick up the camera and take pictures of each other. You can also go to a photobooth and take pictures together. Photographs are always good reminders of the good times you have had.

Shower or bath together - Cleaning each other in the tub or in a shower is great fun because you can touch each other everywhere. It could also conserve water. If one person rinses while the other lathers then it is possible to use the same amount of water one person usually uses to clean two people!

One central theme among all these ideas: it's often not the amount spent (for some people it is, but probably not the majority), but the heartfelt expression of love that means the most. So open your mind and be creative. There are tons of ways to say "I love you" without spending a bundle, and many of these meaningful gifts are the presents that will be remembered most in years to come.