Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’s Day’

which is why I always open the oven before the cake is done.

I made Bakerella’s peach cobbler tonight — what could be easier than a can (I used two) of peaches, cake mix, butter and brown sugar?  If it’s half as good as it looks (and smells!) part way through the baking time, I’m sold. Ridiculously easy, indeed.

My spoiling of surprises also means that I know what AT’s getting me for Valentine’s day (business purse/laptop bag). Which is much cooler than what I’m getting him. Red izod pullover… from Macy’s [on sale, of course], but all the same, clothing, which isn’t a man’s dream gift despite being an improvement on his usual wardrobe.  (He has the bad habit of buying huge clothes that look pretty darn sloppy and aren’t encouraging in the personal-fitness department.)

I’m also considering an emergency order of “The Art of Manliness”. I read the reviews on Amazon, and I think it could be interesting;  the question is whether he will 1. be offended, assuming it means that he lacks manliness and/or 2. read it, ever.  If it inspired him, it might help us see eye to eye him agree with me more, which is always a good thing. I started reading the website, and have fallen in love with the idea — so calm, down to earth, nonpartisan, and sensible. I’m tempted to pick up a copy for my dad and a couple of male best friends, too!

What do you buy for the men in your life?


Read Full Post »

Valentine’s Day is 40(ish) days away!

The history of Valentine’s Day traces back to the persecution of St. Valentine, and was filled with traditional symbols of love, and the creation of hand-made valentines and handwritten notes.

That was then, this is now — Hallmark (not to name names, or anything) has recordable cards costing upwards of $7, with some normal folded-cardstock versions ringing up at over $3.  While admittedly cool… $7 for a card? Adding a gift, dinner reservations, and entertainment only increase the slimness of  your wallet, and no onej’s goal is for their wallet to lose weight in the New Year.

Valentine’s Day Celebratory Savings Ideas:

(AT, don’t peek!)

Make something something special, utilizing skills you already have. The easiest way to do this would be by making a card, which could be done traditionally (get your scissors ready!) or ordering a custom card online.  (I ordered a photo card online when I needed another $1.50 for free shipping in a holiday order — it came out beautifully and was less than or equal to the cost of a nice card in a store. Shipping would be killer if you ordered one-by-one, but if ordering several cards at once the cost would dissipate pretty quickly.)

Personally, I’m planning to make a photo book for Valentine’s Day. This isn’t going to be his only present, but I really like the personal touch that it will add.  The beauty of this idea is that it can be adapted for different recipients by changing picture content. (While I’m at it, I may make a book for my mom for Mother’s Day — using very different photos, of course!)

For the photo book, I’ll order through an online photo printer (I’ve had good results with KodakGallery and Fuji Film’s SeeHere in the past), which will probably cost around $10, especially if paired with a sale/coupon. I already had the equipment and skills needed to create quality images for a stylish gift.

Other ideas would be a memory book, redecorating the den for a favorite sports team, a mixed CD, breakfast in bed, or a homemade recipe book. Make it fit based on your relationship with the recipient. But really, the sky’s the limit!

[What hobbies do you have that can be used for creative gift ideas? (Comment, pretty please!)]

That being said, it’s okay to cut corners on the making part. Say you decide to stage a romantic supper in your dining room — now is probably not the best time to learn how to make homemade ravioli if the only pasta experience you have is making mac & cheese from a blue box. While making things from scratch is frequently cheaper, don’t let the loss of a couple dollars turn not going out for dinner into a days-long process, unless, of course, you enjoy it.

The basic idea is to focus on your strengths, and find creative and convenient alternatives for your weaknesses.

Expensive does not equal romantic. Ask yourself, what makes a romantic evening so special? Is it really what each piece of the night cost, or the value derived from them?

Things like a romantic playlist on the iPod, taking a bubble bath or snuggling under a blanket are priceless (and conveniently pretty close to free). Ask what your favorite traditions and moments are, then work to incorporate those ideas.

Post-holiday deals are a great way to stock up on supplies to make a perfect evening.

I love rich, deep reds and crystal for Valentine’s day for their elegant, classic look, and gather through the year. (Does this make me sound like a pack rat? I’m not, I swear!) Fairly expensive items become quite reasonable when 75% off on post-seasonal clearance, too. (Be sure to gather coupons before heading out to shop,  emailed or snail-mailed from retailers. The savings really add up!)

Splurge on what matters most. Simply put, quality counts. Your experience at Domino’s will never be equivalent to that at Maloney & Porcelli’s (haha), for reasons good and bad. What matters most? Is it a fine bottle of wine to share, a nice dinner out, or budgeting that money towards an engagement ring? Whatever it is, try to make it happen if you consider it worth it. This is about what makes you happiest, after all!

All in all, what matters most is planning a special celebration that will please you and your loved one. Don’t be cheap, but do try to reduce the cost to do the most while staying within your budget.

This is the first post in my series about savvy spending while celebrating.

Read Full Post »