As if it’s not enough that we’re just recuperating from the pressures of what to buy whom for Christmas, now Valentine’s Day is staring us in the face!  No one wants to look like a cheap sucker when expressing their love on Valentine’s Day, but in this economy, with your good friends Mr. Mastercard and Miss VISA expecting a little something to reward them for how loyal they were to you during Christmas, what can you afford to do?

Let’s run it down by the list of people who might be expecting gifts and see if we can’t help you show them that you care for them with a champagne heart but a beer pocketbook.

Gifts for the Kids


Drugstores all over America make it easy for you to treat your littles to something sweet for Valentine’s Day, and because kids don’t really get the whole gist of putting a price on love, you can get away really inexpensively here.

1 – Walmart has a Valentine aisle – as does Target, Walgreens, and CVS.  You’ll find $5 plush toys, .99 candy filled hearts, $1 Valentine socks, and other inexpensive goodies.  You can fill a gift bag for your kids for under $10 and have it bursting with Valentine treats.

2 – Valentine clothes – We almost always get Valentine PJs for our girls, mostly because they usually need new PJs, but also because we can find for less than $20 (and sometimes for less than $15) a cute Valentine set of Pajamas and a stuffed animal, so we avoid the candy and sweets route.  You can find Valentine PJs, t-shirts, and socks at stores like Target, Walmart, and Old Navy.  I kinda like this little t-shirt for $5!

At Old Navy – http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=64713&vid=1&pid=818880&scid=818880012

3 – A Coupon Booklet – Treat your child to a Frosty at Wendy’s, a hot apple pie at McDonald’s, a trip to the library for story time, or even a pedicure and manicure, courtesy of Mom.  You can fill a book of coupons with free or almost free things that your kids will love!  Promise a picnic at the park on one coupon.  A popular coupon at our house is the Get Out of One Chore coupon, where your child can redeem the coupon to get out of setting the table or walking the dog, without risking allowance!  You might even offer to play that horrendous board game they got for Christmas – you know, the one that you’d rather skip playing in favor of a root canal?  Just keep reminding yourself that it’s all in the name of love.

4 – Special Valentine’s Day Meal – You probably have red plastic table cloths or red napkins left over from Christmas – or you picked them up for 75% at an after Christmas sale, so go ahead and decorate your table!  Dress it up in reds, pinks, and whites for a festive themed setting your kids will love.  Then when they sit down to a meal, it doesn’t have to be fancy, just Valentiney!  Use cookie cutters to cut heart shaped sandwiches with their favorite filling, or put that art school degree to work and shape a meatloaf or a pizza for your special kids.  Use food coloring to put a Valentine hue into mashed potatoes, biscuits, or muffins; and consider a dessert with strawberries!

The thing kids love most is your time.  If all else fails, read them an extra bedtime story, take time to listen to their playground tales, or volunteer to be the guinea pig as they try their hand at being a beautician.  Kids know that you love them when you make time for them, and your time is the one thing that really doesn’t cost you anything.  It is the best – and the cheapest – gift you can give your kids on Valentine’s Day – and every day.

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