Bargain Valentine's surprises

B6X8DM Heart shape glass paper weight on calendar page showing February 14 Valentine s Day. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.

It's that time of year again when we celebrate our love for that special person in our lives, but Valentine's Day also brings busy restaurants and premium prices for flowers, chocolates and other traditionally romantic gifts. Fear not, lovers... there are plenty of ways to show how you feel without emptying the bank account.

Voucher up
Voucher websites offer year-round discounts, of course, but when it comes to Valentine's Day, it could mean you're able to treat your partner to a meal, trip or even weekend break away. The likes of Vouchercodes, Myvouchercodes and Vouchercloud regularly feature money off at restaurants, shops, hotels and nights out, so it's always worth checking what's on offer, and at this time of year, you may well find some handy vouchers for florists or chocolatiers. And if you're a Tesco regular, swap your Clubcard points for vouchers and they'll be worth four times the value, a great way to get money off everything from days out, hotel breaks and dining.

Cheap but cheerful
For most people, the most romantic ideas aren't the expensive gifts, but the heartfelt thoughts and gestures. Why not think outside the Valentine's box this year and surprise your other half with a bit of spontaneous (and cheap) fun? It could be a trip to the seaside, where you can cuddle up with fish and chips on the front, a wrapped-up-warm walk in the countryside, stopping midway for a pub lunch, or even turning up with a hearty picnic lunch to surprise them at work. Alternatively take a romantic trip down memory lane by revisiting those places that hold a special place in your hearts, whether that's where you first met, where you went on your first date, or the place where you proposed.

Stay in
Understandably, meals out on Valentine's Day tend to book up early, and if you do get a table, you're likely to pay through the nose for dinner. Instead, stay at home and treat your spouse or partner. That could be a special homecooked meal, with table laid and wine at the ready, a basket containing a bottle of champers, popcorn, chocolates and a movie that you both love, or even the first film you saw together as a couple, or a 'spa' basket, containing facial scrubs, luxurious bubble bath and candles for the lady in your life.

Bargain gifts
Forget the desperate petrol station flowers and the last-minute Milk Tray - putting a little thought into your gift will mean the world to them, and you don't have to spend a fortune. These days, most of our photographic memories are stored online, but a photo book is a great way to remember those happy or romantic shared moments. Arrange your snaps in chronological order, from the beginning of your life as a couple, right through to present day, and get your book or calendar printed online. Prices start from as little as £10 and you'll both have fun looking back and chatting about past times.

A homemade gift can also be really special. It could be vouchers for your loved one, such as breakfast in bed or a massage, to be redeemed throughout the year, or even a 'date calendar', where you make specific plans for a night out (or in) together for each month of the year ahead. And of course there's always the 'mix tape', or playlist, filled with songs that bring back memories for both of you.

There are numerous ways to say 'I love you' without spending too much, so show them how much you care and appreciate them from the heart this Valentine's Day.

Have you got any suggestions for cheap Valentine's gifts or nights out? Leave your comments below...
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