As we continue to charge forward into 2021, one of the more romantic holidays is top of mind — Valentine's Day. While it's exciting to celebrate with those we love, it can also add plenty of stress and pressure, especially during an uncertain time where COVID-19 is changing the way people gather and enjoy each other's company. So here are a few COVID-friendly (and budget-friendly) ways to celebrate the one you love.
The pressure to buy gifts for Valentine's Day can hurt when you're on a stretched budget. Many people feel they have to spend a lot of money to show their loved ones that they’re appreciated and special. This is a slippery slope that can lead people into even more dire financial situations.
Fortunately, we can all celebrate Valentine’s Day in a safe, socially distanced way without going into debt. This can be done by creating a monthly budget, sticking to it, and adopting some Valentine's Day date ideas that follow the proper guidelines outlined by Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Valentine's Day and COVID-19
The impact COVID-19 has had on the world is hard to fully comprehend. The grim reality shows hundreds of thousands of cases in Canada and a devastating blow to the national economy. Vaccine distribution is an ongoing struggle, with recent reports showing a six-month lag in Canada's rollout plan as compared to the U.S. and Europe — the timeline for general population vaccinations appears to be mid-2022.
In other words, the pandemic is uprooting how people live their daily lives, and the "new normal" will be here for a while longer. By following public health guidelines, you can ensure you keep yourself and your loved ones safe throughout the pandemic, and most notably during holidays where people traditionally gather in group settings.
Obviously, a nice dinner out at a fancy restaurant is not on the Valentine's Day date agenda this year. However, despite the challenges we face to share intimate experiences with significant others, there are plenty of affordable, fun, romantic date ideas for everyone, including new budding romances and established long-term couples.
Virtual Date Ideas for First Dates
The idea of having FaceTime dates or sipping wine and talking through Skype or Zoom on a first date would have sounded weird pre-2020. But now, as the world embraces virtual experiences and digital communications, this is not something out of the ordinary.
Virtual dates are the new normal we're all getting used to, and they can be equally as fun and engaging as any in-person first date. Here are some affordable quarantine date ideas for those who are just meeting for the first time:
Show a Talent
Embrace the corniness of a talent show and share something you're good at that you're proud of, then ask your partner to share one of theirs. For example, play them a song on guitar, impress them with your barista skills and walk them through how you make your perfect cup of coffee, or share a piece of art you made.
This is a great way to get to know each other's interests, while also creating opportunities for engaging conversation. You can discuss why you were interested in developing your talents and share some funny experiences you had while you learned them.
Have a DIY Cocktail Party
If you both share an interest in happy hour, coordinate a cocktail party, where you both make your own favourite cocktails together. Use FaceTime to watch each other shake up some martinis or muddle sugar and bitters into old fashioneds.
You can also casually chat as you snack on traditional bar foods, like pretzels or a charcuterie board.
Play Show and Tell
Take a trip down memory lane by showing your date some of your favourite videos from previous trips, adventures or important events in your life. You could also show them sentimental items or even silly things, like your favourite memes or YouTube videos.
For animal lovers, you can introduce your pets to each other. Also, consider taking a dog walk together while you chat over FaceTime.
These are just a few fun, affordable ways to break the ice and get to know someone new. Just keep your personal safety in mind. If you don't know your date too well, it's always smart to not disclose private information, like your home address or where you work.
Date Ideas for Couples
For couples who have been together for an extended period of time, holidays and special occasions are often celebrated with a night on the town. But since nobody is able to catch a movie at the cinema, see a play, or travel, it can be hard to get creative and still have fun at home.
Fortunately, there are several safe, at-home date ideas that won't break the bank.
Cook a Meal Together
This might not feel like an extra special event, especially if you live together or spend weekends together cooking. But you can add some flare to make it feel more romantic.
For example, even though you're eating at home, get dressed in nice clothes. Set a comfortable mood with warm lighting, candles, a little Etta James in the background, and make a new kind of meal you don't normally eat. You can even make a playlist of music you both enjoy while you cook and eat together.
Go Ice Skating
Find a local area to ice skate together outdoors, while following all public health guidelines. COVID-19 will be a concern for an extended period of time, but that doesn't mean you need to literally lock yourselves inside every day.
You can still have fun adventures outdoors while adhering to rules, like keeping your distance from others, wearing a mask, and practicing good hand hygiene. Ice skating is a great way to stay active together and break up the day-to-day when you feel stuck indoors.
Sledding is another great outdoor activity you can enjoy in the early months of the year. Look for places near your home where you can find a hill and bring your sled.
You can find good places for sledding at nearby parks as well. Just be sure to prepare and plan your trip according to the COVID-19 park visit guidelines. You can also go tubing if you prefer that over sledding.
Exercise Together at Home
This is a perfect at-home date idea for fitness enthusiasts or for those looking to be more active. You can find tons of low cost and free streaming workouts online that can get you both moving.
Check with your gym or fitness studio nearby. They may be live streaming their group workouts, which can give you both a sense of community while staying safe.
There may also be more options for working out together this year since Valentine's Day falls on a Sunday. For example, here's a free live yoga class you can do at 9am EST on Valentine's Day if you and your partner are early risers and would like to start the day off by making cupid sweat a little.
Go for a Winter Walk
Winter walking is another great way to stay active while getting out of the house. So if you and your partner need to get out for a bit, take a nice walk in your neighborhood or on a hiking trail in a nearby park.
Photography enthusiasts can bring their camera and take shots of the great outdoors, which you can use to print for home decor or make a scrapbook together.
Stream a Live Event
Entertainment will always be a want, and in the age of COVID-19, aside from streaming services like Netflix, you can watch live streaming events together. There are plenty of entertainers who are providing free and budget-friendly live events online.
Find comedy clubs, music venues, or performing arts centers that are streaming live performances. You and your partner can cuddle on your couch in pajamas or dress up for a virtual night on the town and enjoy live performances, all from the comfort of your home.
Play Board Games
Games are excellent for bringing each other together while also engaging in some friendly competition! All you need is a deck of cards or your favourite board games on hand.
Maybe split a bottle of wine and duke it out on the chess board, or support a local brewery by getting a beer growler to share some pints while you play Pictionary.
The most important thing to remember with these virtual and at-home date ideas is to customize it to fit you and your partner's own preferences and unique interests while staying within your allotted Valentine's Day budget.
Practice Good Spending Habits and Avoid Valentine’s Day Holiday Debt
Retailers love the holidays, as they tend to put people into the shopping and spending mood.
Is that what special holidays are really about though? Is Christmas about how many presents are under the tree, or Easter about which child has the cutest spring dress? Or does your fella love you more because he bought you a dozen red roses, instead of just one perfect one? Giving into holiday spending pressures can really rack up a lot of credit card debt — and quickly.
Enjoy Valentine’s Day without worrying about your March credit card bill by staying safe and using some of the date ideas listed above.
A Personal Story: Celebrate Being Together, Not Where You Go or How Much You Spend
I have a friend who met her special guy at university. Their first Valentine’s dinner was at Mother’s Pizza restaurant. They had such a good night that it became a tradition for them — Valentine’s Day dinner was always spaghetti and pizza. Many, many years later they are still together. Mother’s Pizza, on the other hand wasn’t as fortunate and didn’t survive.
When their kids were very young, they made spaghetti and pizza at home every Valentine’s Day instead of going out and getting a babysitter, and as the kids got older, they all went out for their special meal. Now it’s back to just the two of them, and even though they could afford a fancy dinner, they like spending Valentine’s Day at a local inexpensive restaurant that serves spaghetti and pizza.
The lesson here is that they celebrate being together, not how much they can afford to spend on each other.
Avoid Spending More Than You Have with a Valentine’s Day Budget - Ask for Help if You’re in Debt
If you make a Valentine’s Day budget, you can avoid the burden of over-spending and not having enough money for essentials. Don’t be afraid to talk to your partner about your Valentine’s Day expectations.
And with your partner or on your own, don’t be afraid to ask for help if your finances are stressing you out or if you're struggling with debt. Our certified Credit Counsellors at Credit Canada can assist you in dealing with your financial concerns. We can get you back on track, so you're able to enjoy special days for many years to come.