Frugal Ways to Show Your Love


by Brandie Valenzuela 

At one time, I would have never wanted to share my frugal ideas for showing love. My reason for keeping it to myself? At one time I thought that no one would be interested. After all, we were the only couple not buying each other expensive gifts, jewelry, roses, and more, right? Reality check! I have grown up a lot over these last 10 years and I have learned that I am not the only one clipping coupons and cutting my children's hair myself. There are lots of other families out there just like my husband and I, who have to watch our spending. 

Without the necessary money to buy costly gifts for anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, or other special occasions, we have been very committed to doing things that are wonderful, yet inexpensive. Over the years, I have learned that these creative ideas are what truly matters and they have made our years together, lots of fun.

Here I have compiled my ideas:

Pill Bottle
Take an empty pain reliever or prescription bottle and soak it in hot water to remove the label. After you remove the label, design your own label on paper, with something like the following: "Love Pills - take one as needed." Then take strips of paper and write down the things you are willing to do for your loved one. Some ideas are: foot massage, back massage, your favorite pie, your favorite cookies, you choose the movie we see, etc. Take each strip, wad it into a little ball and place them in the bottle.

Love Songs
Frame the lyrics to your wedding song or other love song. The Internet has several sites that list song lyrics, so just type "song lyrics" into a search engine. Print the lyrics in a nice font, and frame.

Candlelight Dinner
When you are not able to go out to an expensive restaurant for dinner, have it at home. Wait to eat until after the children are in bed, set your dining room table nicely with a tablecloth, candles and play soft music. Enjoy a nice dinner...preferably one that you don't usually have, and one that you and your spouse consider to be special.

Swap Child Care
If you do want prefer to go out for your special day, but find yourself having a hard time paying for dinner and childcare, ask a friend to swap child care with you. 

Create a Love Tree 
Find a branch outside that has several smaller branches coming off of it and place the branch standing up in a pot of soil, or even a coffee can filled with dirt. Cut out an assortment of hearts from different colored cardstock or construction paper and string each one with ribbon. Then have each member of your family write the things that they love on the hearts (one "love" per heart) and hang them on the tree. You can name just about anything you love: a beloved pet, grandma, sunsets, or even ice cream! If you want to create this tree as a gift for someone, write things on the hearts that you love about that person or couple.

Run Through a Maze
If you have a gift for someone in your home, make them go through a maze of clues to get to their surprise. At the first "stop" (which should be a place in your home that this person is likely to go to), place a poem to tell them to go to the next spot in your home, and so on. At each point in your home have something telling your loved ones where to go next until the end, where they will find their gifts I had a friend who did this for her husband's birthday. She placed his first note on the toilet because that was the first place he went  when he got home from work, and, in each note, she cleverly told him where to go next in his home. After going from room to room, he came to the end where there was a CD that he had wanted.

Heart-Shaped Cake
If you don't have heart-shaped cake pans, create your own heart-shaped cake by baking one layer in an 8-inch round pan, and one layer in an 8-inch square pan. Cut the circle in half and place the cut side of the halves against two adjoining sides of the square to form a heart. Frost and decorate at desired.

Heart-Shaped Cookie Pops
Bake some heart-shaped sugar cookies, and insert a popsicle stick near the point of the stick. Bake as usual. Decorate.

Flowerpots
Take flat-bottomed ice cream cups and place them on a cookie sheet or in a muffin tin (you can wrap bottoms of cones with crumbled up foil to make them more sturdy). Fill cones with 1/3 cup brownie batter and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until tops are puffed up and cracked. After the brownie cones are cooled insert a fake rose in the center. You can also create a flower out of construction paper and secure it on a popsicle stick, and then insert this into the center of the puffed up brownie.

Heart-Shaped Cupcakes
Prepare your favorite cake mix according to the directions on the box. Line your muffin pans with paper baking cups and fill each cup half-full of batter. Place a marble in each muffin cup....between the paper liner and the pan, which will create the heart shape. Add additional batter as needed so that cups are about two-thirds full. Bake as directed.

Gift Coupons
We have all heard of the idea of creating coupons which give of ourselves, but have you ever given your kids some? Why not create a coupon book for your child that has coupons such as: your choice of dessert, kids video rental, lunch out with mom (or dad), etc.

Plant a Tree
Give a gift that will grow! Without your loved one knowing, plant a tree in your yard. You may also want to make a small yard sign that will sit near the tree and that indicates who the tree was planted for, and the date.

Progressive Dinner
Call up two other couples and arrange a progressive dinner. Everyone will go to the first couple's home and enjoy some appetizers, at the next home you will go for the dinner, and at the last home, you will enjoy dessert. 


©2000 - Brandie Valenzuela. Reprinted with permission. 

Brandie is the owner and editor of the Family First site. Visit Family First, at http://members.aol.com/BMValen/index.html,
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