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Inexpensive Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day

a couple making dinner.

There's a lot more to Valentine's Day than the standard trifecta of greeting cards, flowers and candy. Yet every year people spend large sums of money. According to statistics from the National Retail Federation, Americans spend nearly $140 per person every year on Valentine's Day.

Despite all this spending, sometimes the best way to show love and appreciation is a simple, creative and heartfelt celebration — and it doesn't have to cost a lot.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at some inexpensive ways to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Build a photo scrapbook of your relationship highlights

Few things tug the heartstrings more effectively than a photo retrospective of all your most cherished moments together, including trips, milestone events and celebrations. Thanks to today's digital technology, you can create and order inexpensive photo albums online and have them shipped to your door. The best part? You can build one of these albums for less than the cost of a meal at a restaurant. If that's still too expensive, just break out the glue and a collage board.

A romantic dinner in the park

Enjoying simple pleasures together is one of the best parts of any relationship. If weather permits, an evening stroll through the park — followed by an intimate dinner for two on a blanket in the grass — is a great way to spend Valentine's Day without breaking the budget. Just make sure it's a warm and clear night so you can dine under a canopy of stars. No amount of money can provide a better view.

Plan an elaborate local tour through the history of your relationship

This one doesn't require much (if any) money, but it will necessitate some planning and time. Create an itinerary of all the "historic" places in your relationship: where you met, the location of your first date, your most memorable experiences, etc. To keep costs contained, only include events that occurred in your home city. With your itinerary in hand, explore your history with your partner. If you want to make it even more interactive, add a scavenger hunt element to the event.

Create a custom gift certificate book

A gift card doesn't require any creativity or deep thought, but when it comes to gift-giving, it's the path of least resistance. Yet a custom gift certificate book is another story entirely. You can create certificates for free back rubs, prepared dinners or any other romantic or kind gesture you can think of. This one is guaranteed to make an impact, and it won't cost a thing.

Have an "outdoorsy" Valentine's Day

If your better half is a fan of the great outdoors, what better way to celebrate inexpensively than by hiking, biking, skating or pursuing any other favorite recreational activity? This will allow you to enjoy the holiday surrounded by the majesty of nature — and will also get the endorphins pumping during your workout.

Stage a romantic but relaxed "dinner and a movie" holiday

Making your sweetheart's favorite meal and following it with a favorite film is a simple yet heartfelt way to express your affection. It's also very economical compared to going to a restaurant and the theater.

The takeaway

You don't have to spend big to have a deeply memorable Valentine's Day.

Family in the kitchen.

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