Valentine’s Day is coming up…again. You need some good ideas to treat your Valentine right. The only problem is that you either don’t have any money, or you do have money but you don’t want to spend it. Let’s be honest. You can’t really put a price on love, right?
The good news is that Nashville has a lot to offer people who don’t want to be a cheap date but still don’t want to break the bank. Remember, being cheap doesn’t have to mean being lousy, but it does have to mean being fun and thoughtful.
And as everyone who was ever a college student knows, if you aren’t investing money, then you have to invest time. That is why most of these date ideas involve a little bit of time to either do, set up, or plan. But don’t worry, the whole idea of a date is to spend time with your Valentine, which is what makes these so special.
Paint Nite… With Bob Ross
Paint Nite or Paint N Pour or any such social painting activities are very popular right now if all those annoying Groupon emails are any indication. The only problem is that they are a little over our budget. Plus they are all going to be crowded or booked up for Valentine’s Day. So how do you do a romantic memorable Paint Nite on a budget? By inviting your good friend Bob Ross! Gather any paints and brushes you might have lying around the house or spring for this inexpensive kit from Amazon. Then tune in to Netflix or YouTube to find a great Bob Ross tutorial featuring that soothing and romantic voice of his. Bonus: you both wind up with a great (or hilarious) painting at the end!
Exploring secret Nashville
Why not just do a little exploring? You can try and find an undiscovered neighborhood restaurant or coffee shop, or even just get some great views of Nashville by checking out some of the most walkable parts of the city. Unfortunately, Nashville is known more for its roads full of pick-up trucks and soccer mom SUVs than it is for its walkability, but that doesn’t mean great spots don’t exist. They’re just harder to find. But here is a handy tool for finding the most walkable areas in town: Strava is a cycling and running app that tracks your routes and let’s you compare your times with others. But Strava also has a heatmap on their website that shows the most popular jogging and cycling routes. So it stands to reason that the most popular areas in Nashville to jog are probably also among the best to walk around. So check out the Strava Heatmap here and plan your urban exploration someplace totally new for you!
Bike/Coffee Photo Safari
Speaking of cycling, why not go on a bike and coffee photo safari with your significant other? Why bike and coffee? Great question! Most of us, if we look deep in our hearts and are totally honest with ourselves, are not really ever going to be good photographers. We would all like an instagrammable Valentine’s Day but typically it would just wind up being blurry photos of poorly frosted cupcakes. But both bicycles and coffee happen to be very photogenic! So take your old bike out of storage, dust it off, and ride to the nearest coffee shop with your sweetie and stop and take pictures every time you need a break. Even a rusted old huffy looks cool leaned up against the right wall. This means you’ll get lots of fun pics without ever really getting winded and looking like you’re out of shape. And there are bonus points if you head to a coffee shop with more photogenic coffee than just a regular Starbucks cup. We recommend The Well Coffeehouse or The Red Bicycle Coffee (c’mon, it’s right there in the name).
Speaking of instagramming your food, who doesn’t love a good cooking show? Why not film, or even live stream on Facebook your own cooking show for Valentine’s Day? You can go the collaborative route where you work together to turn out a romantic dish for two or you could try more of a Top Chef route and go head-to-head. The cooking element is fun and the fact that you are on camera forces you to be quick with the process as well as keeping the conversation going. Try it out. We think you’ll find it is a ton of fun!
Gift Exchange Competition
Gift exchanges aren’t just for Ugly Sweater Parties or unsupervised wedding reception gift tables. They are great anytime of the year! And the only thing that can make a gift exchange even more fun is turning it into a competition – hopefully one in which everybody wins. Unfortunately, it can be tempting to spend too much money on a good gift. But since this is about being thrifty, there needs to be a few guidelines to prevent this.
- Set a budget. Since this is a time investment and not a financial one, the gift’s monetary value isn’t the point, and in fact can obscure the thoughtfulness of the gift. So go ahead and set a budget and make it low. $5 per gift is perfectly fine.
- Have a goal. Wandering into a store with a budget of $5 or so and trying to out-give your date can be a little stressful, especially for people who are not naturally creative. And since the whole purpose of flirting is to make the other person feel special, set a goal that will play to everyone’s strengths. For instance, your goal could be to find ingredients or table decorations to make the most gourmet meal possible on a budget. Or find items to host a Valentine’s party or an Oscars watch party. Or for an even bigger project, find home items that you can upcycle together.
- Give it a theme. This goes along with having a goal, but giving it a theme is a great way to help indecisive people exercise their creativity. If you are cooking a meal together, make it Italian and buy your date a thrift store Super Mario Brothers t-shirt. If you are having a gift exchange with the goal of setting up a game night, make it a requirement that dice must be involved. Don’t make the theme too restrictive though. Keep it fun.
- Make it a multi-day event. Did you know that ThriftSmart is open 7 days a week? Why not turn your Valentine’s Day into a Valentine’s Week and pick up one $5 item a day for five days leading up to the big day? This gives you more to work with, and more opportunities to step up your skill in finding the best, most perfect gift for your significant other.
- Make your judging part of the romance. While it is easy to challenge someone to find the best gift for under $5, it is hard to decide which one is the best. Technically it is a very subjective decision, unless someone violated one of the goals or theme rules. For those of you who have a competitive nature, the poorly defined nature of the judging may be frustrating, but remember that the true goal of this activity is to let your date know how special they are. So the judging of the gifts is not a time to criticize or downplay the gifts but to show off your thoughtfulness. What aspect of your date inspired your gift? What three things do you like about the gift that your date got you? The true goals of this activity are for everyone to win and for love to grow.