smart spending

14 loving but inexpensive Valentine gifts

For the parents:

6. Creature comforts:  For mom or dad it's always a good idea to focus on the creature comforts. Let her sleep late and bring her coffee or orange juice and a simple breakfast in bed. "Some of the best stuff is free," says Melina Bellows, author of "The Fun Book for Moms: 102 Ways to Celebrate Family," and editor in chief of National Geographic Kids. Give dad or mom -- especially if you have a single parent -- the gift of an hour of "me-time" when they get home from work just to decompress, says Eric Stromer, author of "Do-It-Yourself Family: Fun and Useful Home Projects the Whole Family Can Make Together," and host of HGTV's "Over Your Head" and AOL's "Do-It-Yourself with Eric Stromer." "Try it Friday or Monday," he says. If you know dad will retreat to his man-cave, post some kind of thank you note or affirmation there, just to let him know how much you appreciate his hard work.

7. Get techy wid it:  The perfect gift for parents from teens and college kids. "Offer to be mom's tech concierge," says Bellows. Teach her to text, or show her how to download music or movies. If she's wanted to investigate social networking, introduce her to Facebook, and create (with her permission) a page for her, so that she can catch up with her high school and college friends. Or, if you have a few bucks, do the old mixed tape one better and load up her MP3 player with a playlist with of music you know she'll like.

8. Child labor:  Sure, you're busy, but that doesn't mean you can't spend a little time making sure your parents know you love them. Make a book of coupons for your parents filled with jobs you promise to do for the week, month or year: things like shining dad's shoes, washing mom's car, watering the plants or even taking out the trash.

For the kids:

9. Cooking up some love:  Kids will remember the Valentine's Day they baked cookies with mom or dad. With little kids, opt for something simple, like heart-shaped cookies. With older children, consider cupcakes with more elaborate Valentine's Day decorations. Then turn off the TV one night and have family game time or story time. Get out the old favorites or create a few new ones.

10. Treasure of love:  Kathy Peel, author of "The Busy Mom's Guide to a Happy, Organized Home," suggests hosting a treasure hunt. "Post clues (pictures, rhymes or words) to direct family members from one location to another until they find their treasure: a small Valentine's Day gift," she says.

11. Get crafty:  Try a family craft project, says Stromer. "Nothing spells love more than a heart made out of balsa wood and hung on the front door," he says. Balsa is inexpensive, easy to work with (you can often use tools that you already have), and available at local craft stores. Paint it, let it dry and display it prominently, says Stromer.

12. Start the day with love:  Celebrate with a Valentine's Day breakfast, says Bellows. For a lot of families, the morning routine is hectic. So take some time on Saturday for a leisurely breakfast. Go for something traditional with a twist, like their favorite pancakes in heart shapes. Keep with the Valentine's theme by using lots of strawberry or cherry syrup and whipped cream. And focus on the foods they really love.

13. Work together:  Take a few hours on Saturday to work together as a family on a project geared to the abilities of the kids. Build -- or even just hang -- a bird house. You can find kits in craft stores or if you're not handy, take the children to pick out a seed ball. Then, together, select a spot where it can be seen from indoors and hang it. Not only do you help foster local wildlife (and help creatures during the cold winter months), you and your family get to enjoy a little bit of nature in your own backyard. Another thought: Make your own kite. A little newspaper (or other heavy paper or light cloth), some balsa wood (available at craft stores), string and poster paints can add up to a pretty fantastic kite. (Check Internet sites or children's craft books at the library if you need examples or instructions.) See who can design the prettiest, fastest, most colorful or most unusual kite. You can display them in the kids' rooms or around the house. Then on the first sunny, windy day, try them out.

For any situation:

14. Be a friend:  Know someone who's alone? Set aside some time to share a meal, go on an outing, or swap recipes or gossip. It can cost virtually nothing, and you'll likely gain a lot more than you give.

 

 

advertisement

Show Bankrate's community sharing policy
          Connect with us
REFINANCE HOME EQUITY AUTO CDs CREDIT CARDS
Product Rate Change Last week
30 year fixed refi 4.00%  0.09 4.09%
15 year fixed refi 3.08%  0.12 3.20%
10 year fixed refi 3.13%  0.11 3.24%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
30K FICO-based HELOC 4.32%  0.02 4.30%
50K FICO-based HELOC 3.98%  0.02 3.96%
100K FICO-based HELOC 3.83%  0.02 3.81%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
60 month used car loan 2.75% --0.00 2.75%
48 month used car loan 2.99% --0.00 2.99%
60 month new car loan 3.19%  0.01 3.20%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
1 Year CD 0.99% --0.01 0.98%
2 Year CD 1.22%  0.01 1.21%
5 Year CD 1.87% --0.00 1.87%
 
View Rates in your area Next
Product Rate Change Last week
Balance Transfer Cards 15.76% --0.00 15.76%
Cash Back Cards 16.44% --0.00 16.44%
Low Interest Cards 11.04% --0.00 11.04%
 
Next
advertisement
FRUGAL NEWSLETTER

Discover new ways to cut costs and save more every day. Reduce your spending, not life’s pleasures. Delivered weekly.

advertisement
Partner Center
advertisement

Connect with us