15:46 13 February 2013
Love is in the air, and nothing says it across the nation quite as clearly as Valentine's Day, the most romantic day of the year.
But, unfortunately, Valentine's Day has also become an opportunity for retailers to cash in on romance. Inflated prices on gifts and overpriced restaurants might make you feel that you simply can't afford to celebrate.
However, there are a number of ways you can make Valentine's Day special without breaking the bank. Here's our top eight...
1. Do something they won't expect
Surprise your Valentine with an unusual day out. Research what's on offer in your local area and you'll soon be feeling inspired.
For example, for a cost of just £5 per person, Liverpool Cathedral is offering couples the opportunity to enjoy romantic twilight views of the city from its famous 300-foot tower on Valentine's night. Champagne and chocolates will be available on the night.
For romantics living in Newcastle, why not take your Valentine to the outdoor skating rink at the Life Science Centre? It costs just £7.95 each and is open until 8pm. And for those spending the day in Manchester, how about heading to the Valentine's Market at Piccadilly Gardens?
These events just skim the surface of what's on - so plan ahead and find out what you can surprise your other half with.
2. Loving arts and crafts
It sounds like a cliché but often it's the gifts that don't cost anything that are the most effective. After all, your time, thought and effort means a lot more than two minutes spent on the phone to make a restaurant reservation.
So use your creative genius and come up with something that you can make. It could be as simple as a book of personalised vouchers which entitle the 'holder' to various treats, such as breakfast in bed, a night at the cinema to see a film of their choice or a nag-free day of sport!
If you've been with your partner for a while, try making a keepsake scrapbook filled with photos, tickets and postcards of places you have been.
Remember mix-tapes you used to make when you were a teenager? Put together a playlist of their favourite songs and music that holds memories for you both.
3. Use money-off vouchers
You may wonder whether it's acceptable to use money-off vouchers on Valentine's Day, but in these cash-strapped times it's not to be sniffed at. You'll be able to enjoy a day out or buy a gift for a fraction of the price.
4. Impress with your culinary wizardry
The way to a man's heart is through his stomach... and it's often the way to a woman's too! So don your chef's hat and cook your Valentine their favourite meal.
You can even turn your kitchen or dining room into a romantic restaurant with candles, music and a bottle of champers to toast the occasion. If you're not sure where to start take a look at the numerous online recipes designed for the day.
5. Take a romantic trip to the capital
If you'd like to spend Valentine's Day in London but are worried about the cost, you may be surprised about the number of low-cost themed events going on.
6. Enjoy the Great Outdoors
For a completely free day out, how about donning your wellies and enjoying a romantic walk with your Valentine? If you're stuck for inspiration on where to go, visit walks around Britain's website or visitwoods.org.
Weather dependent, you could even pack a picnic full of treats or take your other half for a cosy pub lunch.
7. Whisk your Valentine away on a last minute break
What could be more romantic than your other half arriving home from work only to find their suitcase packed and a trip away awaiting them?
So - you really don't need to take out a loan or re-mortgage your house to impress your other half on Valentine's Day. It can be done on a budget with just a little imagination, planning and organisation.
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