Date Ideas for Less on Valentine's Day

.Media personality and lifestyle expert Terri Trespicio shares her creative ideas for a fun date night on a budget for Valentine's Day!

Terri writes:
It would be incredibly easy for me to tell you all the ways to blow your cash on Valentine's Day -- because there's no shortage of them. Who wouldn't love a decadent meal, a $75 bottle of wine, French macaroons flown in from Paris this morning? Though, I'll admit, other V-day standbys like couples massages always struck me as creepy, and I think I'll pass on the gold-dipped roses.

You can have fun on Valentine's Day without spending hundreds! You don't even need a boyfriend. Here's my list of things to do on the cheap whether you're hanging with a partner, a gaggle of friends, or going solo.

Date Ideas on Valentine's Day for Under $20: For Couples, Friends & You
#1 For Couples

Go twilight sledding. Once the kids have packed it in for dinner, hit the slopes for some private downhill fun. (Snow angel make-out session optional.)

Cost: Inexpensive roll-up plastic sled, $7.99

#2 For Couples

Hit the rock wall.

See your love in a new light by taking on an exciting and different challenge together, says Melissa Massello, founder of Shoestring Magazine.

If you're not crazy about heights, try any new activity that lets you work together to accomplish a goal. "There's nothing that can deepen your connection like getting your heart racing and working up a sweat together," says Massello.

Cost: Many climbing gyms offer a day pass for less than $20.

#3 For Couples

Go straight to dessert.

Skip the pricey dinner and head out for sweets instead-be it a bakery for cupcakes and cookies, or to the diner for a slice of pie and a cup of joe.

Cost: Around $8/person.

#4 For Couples

Cook something that takes a while.

Prepare something simple, no fuss, and slow-cooking like chili or stew. That'll give you a few hours in the interim, and I'm sure you can figure out how to spend it.

Cost: Depends on the ingredients. Massello recommends this 3-Bean & Quinoa Chicken Chili, which you can make for less than $10.

#5 For Couples

Do a private reading. There's nothing more intimate than sharing the written word - aloud. Especially the steamy scenes. Tip: Take turns with the text.

Cost: Most straight-to-Kindle books are around $10.

(Note that Fifty Shades of Grey is on sale for $8.77.

Though if you're over E.L James's lusty trilogy, and I don't blame you, give Susie Bright a shot).

I also strongly suggest a nice full-bodied red, which you can easily get for under $10.

#6 For Groups & Girlfriends

Host a YouTube party.

Ask your friends (and their friends) to choose and email 3 to 5 of their favorite video clips, and gather over food and drink to laugh.

There is something joyless about hovering around a laptop, so do some party prep and find out what wires you need to make it happen on the flat screen.

Cost: Free (with the exception of whatever hardware you need. More on how to connect your PC to TV here and your Mac to your TV here.)

#7 For Groups & Girlfriends

Do a chocolate tasting.

What better way to experience the signature flavor of this holiday than to taste a whole bunch of it?

With such a wide array of artisanal chocolates available, a tasting is as simple as everyone bringing two different bars.

Break them up into chunks (keeping track of which is which), do a blind taste test, and pick your faves.

Cost: $15 or less per person

#8 For Groups & Girlfriends

Host a closet swap.

Got a few great tops you just don't wear anymore? Eyeshadow that never looked quite right?

Gather them up and head over to a friend's. Have your girlfriends collect all the things they love but never use and you've got yourself a pop-up shopping party, no credit cards required.

Add some wine and you've got a fun, free way to update your wardrobe and your makeup bag.

Think: nailpolishes, fragrances, mineral makeup, and other safe-to-swap items, like clothes and shoes.

Check out Massello's helpful swap guide to plan your party.

Cost: Free

#9 For You

Get a quickie massage.

You don't need a pricey, full-service massage to soothe tension and spoil yourself.

For less than $20, you can get the same benefits with a perfectly respectable chair massage at your local nail salon. Don't knock 'em. Ten to 12 minutes can do a 180 on your mood and mindset.

Cost: Around $15 for 10-12 minutes.

#10 For You

Take a romantic risk.

Valentine's Day isn't just for couples; there's nothing more romantic than potential. Consider this your wild card day.

Do something a little out of character for you, whether it's flirt openly or slip your number on a napkin to a total stranger (I've done both).

Think of this as a time to experience your fun, sexy, romantic side. You never know what could happen.

Cost: Free.

#11 For You

Indulge in some me time. What's that thing you always say you'd love to do but never make time for?

"Spend a few hours at a museum exhibit, or find a sunny nook at a coffee shop and read," says Melissa Massello from Shoestring Magazine.

"Something that brings you back to yourself. It's a great act of self-love."

Cost: Free, except for any nominal exhibit fees.

#12 For You

Write a heartfelt letter.

Think about the people you've loved who have changed your life for the better: your college roommate, an old boyfriend, a dear colleague whom you haven't seen in years.

Write a note to that person saying how he or she has changed your life-and mean it. (Word to the wise: Stick to a private letter. This is not the time to post a wistful note on your ex's Facebook wall.)

Cost: Free (unless you mail an actual letter, in which case you'll be out $0.46)

Terri TrespicioTerri Trespicio is a media personality & lifestyle expert, and regular contributor to local and national media, including the "Today" show, "Dr. Oz," "Anderson Live," and "The Martha Stewart Show," and on Sirius XM -- where for years she hosted a live daily show.

A former senior editor at Whole Living magazine, Terri contributes to a range of publications and writes regularly on dating and relating as a single person in the modern age. She lives in Manhattan. Visit her at TerriTrespicio.com and @TerriT on Twitter.

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