Valentine's Day

5 Frugal Ideas that Fit the Budget and Honour the Meaning of Valentine’s Day

18 February 2022

2.5 MINS

Here are five affordable yet fun ideas to celebrate the spirit of Valentine’s Day with your beloved all year round.

Valentine’s Day is, in many ways, a gap-filling marketing oasis for retailers to cover their bottom lines between Christmas and Easter.

We buy into it probably for the same reasons. Valentine’s Day offers time to take a breath between the biggest ecclesial feasts of the year.

The grind is back in full swing. Holidays are over, school and work have returned. Each running our lives like regular clockwork.

Enter Valentine’s Day, a short break with routine which offers a breathing space between Christmas and Easter.


While the day might serve retailers and their customers alike, this welcome distraction from the sun-up to sun-down grind wasn’t always beer and skittles.

A Martyred Saint

The story of the man February 14 is named after, was neatly summed up this week by author and vicar Nicky Gumbel.

He wrote,

‘St Valentine was imprisoned beheaded & buried on 14 Feb 269 AD for helping persecuted Christians & marrying Christian couples! While in prison he prayed for his jailer’s daughter & her blindness was healed. On the day of his execution, he left her a note signed, ‘Your Valentine.’

The 3rd century martyrdom of Valentine was part of the sporadic swath of murders of Christians sanctioned by Imperial applause, and ‘conducted by provincial rulers.’ (Jonathon Hill).

Valentine died under the rule of Marcus Aurelius Claudius Gothicus.

Claudius was an army officer who came to the throne after Emperor Gallienus was assassinated. He was dubbed Gothicus for defeating the Gothic invasion in 269, and was later killed by the plague.

There were no vacuous harp carrying cupids, and Hallmark niceties when Valentine, a Christian priest and physician was murdered by Imperial Rome.

By all accounts, Valentine was a righteous rebel.

Any man, dad or guardian game enough to follow his example will own Valentine’s Day, ripping its meaning from the cold clasp of empty rituals, and worn-out cliches.

Love in Practice

Five frugal, but industrious ways to do this are:

1. Cooking dinner

Get creative with what you’ve got. Dress the table with flowers from a garden, add a candle. Real roses are expensive. An alternative is to fill the centre of the table with a box of Roses chocolates.

2. Organising to take the day off together

Co-ordinate schedules. Make an effort to pause, breath and create a one-day oasis away from the rat race. Make the day a date.

3. Grabbing coffee, and taking a stroll along a river or beach

Pick a favourite spot. An easy walk allows for conversation. Coffee warms, and exercise enlivens. Leave the phones at home.

4. Having a special night in

Plug in some clear Christmas lights. Gather the family. Fill the evening with board games, favourite movies, popcorn, or a fruit and cheese board platter.

5. Attending a free or relatively low-cost event

Nightlife calendars usually offer low-cost events, which are sometimes free depending on where you live. Find museums, art exhibits or night markets.

Whether the road to a Valentine’s victory takes the form of the Dads4Kids Valentine’s Day Challenge, or following these five basic ideas, the basis for Valentine’s Day isn’t Cupid’s arrow. It’s a 3rd Century Christian martyr, who paid the ultimate price in the service of others.

Valentine’s Day is a day of remembrance, probably as much as it is romance.

Adopting this origin story resurrects the authentic meaning of Valentine’s Day, wresting a holy day from the cathedrals of commerce who’ve blunted our perspective through their unholy over-commercialisation.

Grasping the day’s raw meaning carries with it the power to be relationally transformative.

This is because the best and most inexpensive way to say, “I love you,” is simply to be present and attentive.


First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.

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