With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you haven’t got a lot of time to earn money on the side or take out a second mortgage in order to buy your sweetie a bauble or twenty-two pounds of chocolate. Last year I wrote about Valentine’s Day ideas for parents, but this year I’d love to take a moment to focus on Dads. While I still stand by it being more important to focus on an experience over a physical gift, I’ve included ideas for both in this post.

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Frugal Valentine Gift Ideas for Dad

Put Tech to Use

I’m quite sure he’d be happy with a new gaming system or the latest virtual reality gear, but you know what I bet he’d REALLY love? Noise cancelling headphones. Seriously. They’re not crazy expensive and I’m sure he’ll especially appreciate them when he’s trying to focus on a project and the children are screaming over meatballs being in their SpaghettiOs.

BONUS: You, too, can use them!! Trade off a few hours each week and I bet you’ll both find yourselves a bit more relaxed and appreciative of each other.

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Write a Future Letter

This one is an investment in time, but it can be really special. Go to FutureMe, put in your sweetie’s email address, and write them a letter. Write about whatever you want; how you feel about them at the time, how you see the two of you in the future, what you hope to accomplish together. It’s a living snapshot in time, crystallizing how you feel at that exact moment, and it’s really, really cool to see 365 days later (especially when Mommy-brain has kicked in and you don’t even remember writing it!)

Take a Class Together

Rather than zoning out to Netflix each night or wrapping up the day’s chores in separate rooms, settle into the couch together with a laptop and take an online course on something that interests you both. Udemy always has amazingly affordable but valuable courses ranging from photography to foreign languages and even couples massages! Yes please!!

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Get Creative

For example, you could create a Love Garden…which isn’t a place where you grow cherubs, as much as it might sound otherwise. You get a small container – doesn’t have to be brand new or even initially intended for planting. We’re all about gardening on a budget, so be creative when it comes to your container.

Find some seeds, again on Craigslist or any resale site, or pick some inexpensive ones up from the dollar store, and plant a little flower garden together. By Spring, they should be ready to put outside to bloom, a living symbol of your love, and unlike your children, THIS living symbol of your love won’t scream for candy or eat all your chicken tenders.

Flee! (Together)

Take the day off from school, work, whatever, and spend it together. Put your phone away, unplug your laptop, and do whatever you want, fully immersed in one another. Playing games together is always a fun way to bond, whether it’s board games, video games, or a simple game of “Would You Rather”.

You could also cook a meal together (might I recommend Overnight French Toast Bake), take a nap, do whatever – just be certain your attention is focused on your partner, not on running errands or chores to be done.

Involve the Kids

If ditching the kids for a day isn’t an option, that’s okay! The day, after all, is about celebrating love and while it would be nice to enjoy time as just the two of you, it’s great to teach your kids the actual purpose of the day, too. Do something fun like create plaster hands in garden stones or paint a canvas together.

Do A Home Improvement Project Together

Paint a room, put in some flooring, add a “parents only” den to your garage – Some kinda-big-but-not-difficult-in-a-day project that you can learn together or simply do together. When you’re done, sign your names in a heart someplace with the date. You’ll be reminded of your love whenever you step into that room, or look at the walls, or hide from your children.

Spa Day

YES even Dads could use a spa day! If your guy isn’t quite the “get a massage and facial” kind of guy, you can still treat him to a day of relaxation. Buy him some comfy cozy slippers, let him take a nap after lunch, give him a back rub – whatever you think will help him unwind and enjoy the day.

Picture It

To go along with the slideshow, you could also create a personalized mug courtesy of Tiny Prints or a photo book via Shutterfly! They both always have great deals on all of their products, but the hardcover photo books are by far and away my most favorite thing! I’ve created ones for my husband, for both my kids, and for myself. It’s like scrapbooking, but without the paper cuts and glitter in unpleasant places!

Create a Slideshow

Use Microsoft Powerpoint and create a slideshow of your life together thus far. This works even better if you’ve got a microphone on your computer and can narrate the pictures as they scroll by. While this may seem like a “little” thing, the effort and thought you put into it will be much appreciated.


Bake a cake together (or pick up for your favorite dessert from the local bakery!) Then build a fort in your living room and watch movies or play games, enjoying your time together while indulging in a delicious treat. Revel in each other’s company without worrying if what you’re doing is proper, or grown-up, or whatever preconceived notion of a romantic valentine would be. Have FUN.

Take A Tour of Your Past

Start with the first place you had breakfast. If that’s not an option, or if you’re not a breakfast person, the first place you had coffee or tea. Make a route, preferably one you can do on foot, and hit your hot spots: first date, first kiss, favorite restaurant, place where you proposed (if applicable). Go home and pop in your favorite movie. Dance to your favorite song, or the one you first danced to however long ago. Take a walk around the neighborhood where you shared your first apartment, or go to the park where you first played disc golf.  Reliving memories with the person you shared them with is powerful and wonderful.

Celebrate the Day After

Check out the sales at your local Walgreens or CVS on February 15th and pick up some fun décor, sweet chocolates, or silly cards. Set it up at home and impress your love with how frugal and creative you can be! Note: You should probably let him know ahead of time that you’ll be celebrating a day later.

Host a Game Night

What better way to celebrate love then by inviting all of your mutual friends over for a game night? This doesn’t need to be some huge elaborate party – just bust out Zombieopoly or Flux, open a few bags of chips and dip, and enjoy the company!

Rather than waste money or time on tired, old Valentine’s staples, try any one or more of these above ideas to spice things up without being trapped within the conventional metrics of love; that you need to spend a ton of money on jewelry, candy, or dates in order to be considered a good significant other. Spend time, take time, make things together, and actually celebrate your love. It’s (probably, who knows) what St. Valentine would really want.

How do you plan to spend Valentine’s Day this year?

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