By TMoM Team Member Sydney Richardson

For most families, Valentine’s Day can either be a special day filled with excitement and sweet treats, or a day of dread, especially if you are preparing cards and candy for your child’s classroom peers and teachers. Growing up, Valentine’s Day was a small special holiday in my house and within my classroom. In class, our afternoons were spent giving each classmate a card and candy, and my teachers would always do something fun like allow us to play a game or watch part of movie before school ended. However, Valentine’s Day in my house was extra special. My sister and I would wake up on that day, and two small baskets of treats from our parents greeted us at the bottom of our staircase. The baskets would usually include red heart candies (the hot kind), some chocolate, a teddy bear, and a cute card.

Now that I am a parent, I love the idea of making “I love you day” special for my family. Although the commercialization of Valentine’s Day is often stressful, it does not have to be a “blow the budget” day. In my household, Valentine’s Day falls between two household birthdays and an anniversary, so there is not much room in our budget to go big, but that does not mean that it can’t be special. There are financially friendly ways to make the day special where you and your family can gift one another. This is especially true for the little ones. Here are some ideas to get any family started:

Budget Friendly Valentine’s Day

  1. Gift baskets: Gift baskets can cost a pretty penny, but you can make them on your own. Don’t think big, but small. A gift basket does not have to come in a basket; anything can suffice. Coffee mugs, tin pails, cookie boxes, decorative bowls, and even holiday-inspired holders like heart shaped boxes make a lovely “basket”. Find these items at any discount store or consignment store for very low prices. They also come in various sizes. Again, a gift basket does not have to be big.
  2. Items for the gift basket: There are various things to place in an “I Love You” basket, and it is perfectly okay if they are all the same. Here are some ideas: a small stuffed animal, a card with a handwritten message, assortment of small candies, lollipops, and/or a large candy bar. When people think of Valentine’s Day, especially children, they often think of sweets, so candy will always be a hit.
  3. Special Dinner: Dining out, ordering in, or home cooking? Let that night be a special dinner. Have someone in your family choose the dinner or let the parents decide but allow the dinner to be something unique from the weekly normal. During the dinner, let everyone say one thing that they love about the other family members.
  4. Special Dessert: Not big on dinner? How about dessert! To go with a red love theme, strawberry cake or strawberry filled doughnuts are winners at my kitchen table. We also love a good peanut butter pie (recipe below). Is there a special dessert that your family would love to have or make?  Go for it! strawberry cake
  5. House Decorations: Nothing says surprise and excitement than decorations, and don’t think that you have to decorate the whole house. Balloons, streamers, decorated paper or plastic plates and cups, tablecloths, and/or napkins are just some ways to decorate the house for this special day. You do not have to get everything; you can choose one thing or more. Don’t forget to get these decorations at those wonderful discount stores for the best bang for your buck.
  6. Family Valentine movie: A final way to make the day extra special is to end it with a family movie. It is rare that Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend, so usually the entire family is already tired from a day of work, school, after school activities, and more. If this is your household, then make the evening special with a sweet family movie.

Whatever you choose, make “I Love You” day special with your family in your own way. Again, you do not have to break the piggy bank to do this, as this day is really about remembering those that are special to you. Therefore, spending time together is what really counts, along with establishing some great traditions.

What are some of your favorite Valentine’s Day memories and ideas?

Peanut Butter Pie


  • Graham cracker crust
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 8oz cream cheese, thawed
  • 8oz whipped cream
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips (you can add more if you really love chocolate chips)


In a large mixing bowl, empty all of the ingredients, minus the graham cracker crust, into the bowl. Lightly stir until everything is well blended. Next, add in the chocolate chips and fold it into the mixture until is it evenly spread throughout.

Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust and either freeze for 30 minutes or refrigerate for one hour. Enjoy! Keep refrigerated.

peanut butter pie

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