Americans Are Spending Over $160 on Valentine’s Day — Try These Affordable Last-Minute Gifts Instead

Ditch the expensive Valentine's Day gifts this year.

Ah, Valentine’s Day, the bright spot in the middle of February when Americans celebrate love — and spend a lot of money on flowers and candy. No one wants to seem cheap when it comes to giving that special someone a Valentine’s Day gift, but can you do it without breaking the bank?

Read: Spoil Your Sweetheart This Valentine’s Day Without Emptying Your Wallet

How Much Does the Average American Spend on Valentine’s Day?

This year, Valentine’s Day spending is expected to break records. The average adult who celebrates Valentine’s Day will spend around $161.96 in 2019, up from $143.56 last year, according to the National Retail Federation. The total spending is expected to hit $20.7 billion — an increase of 6 percent from last year.

Spending has risen steadily in the last 10 years. But as per-person spending has risen, the number of people who celebrate the holiday has gone down. In 2009, 63 percent of adults did something to commemorate the day of love, but in 2019, that figure is down to 51 percent.

Here’s a look at what Americans plan to buy for Valentine’s Day this year:

American Spending: Valentine’s Day 2019
Gift% of Americans Who Plan to Give This GiftTotal Spending
Gift Cards15%$1.3B
Greeting Cards45%$933M
Gifts of Experience (e.g., tickets to an event or trip to a spa)25%N/A

See: Keep the Romance Alive with Priceless (and Free) Date Night Plans

Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts for Under $50

As spending on the holiday continues to rise, it’s tempting to spend a lot of money to try to impress your Valentine, especially if you’re in a new relationship. But with many Americans drowning in debt, it’s important to find low-cost ways to celebrate the holiday. Besides, putting a little more thought into a gift for that special someone could help you show your love without busting your budget.

Here are some affordable last-minute Valentine’s Day gift ideas to get you started:

1. Paint & Wine Class

Estimated cost: $20

If your Valentine has an artistic side, treat them to a paint and wine night. You don’t have to be a pro to paint a beautiful landscape or abstract art; you just need to pay attention to the instructor as they show you how to create your own masterpiece.

You can find affordable paint night deals on Groupon. Just find your city, type in “paint night,” buy your ticket online, print it out and there you have it — an easy last-minute gift your sweetheart will enjoy.

2. Activity Book for Couples

Estimated cost: $10-$15

Do you and your partner love quizzes, puzzles and games? Do you want to get to know your partner better? Consider getting an activity book with challenges and fun games designed to bring you and your partner closer together.

You can find “The Big Activity Book for Couples” or “I Love You: The Activity Book Meant to Be Shared” on Amazon for under $15 each. Just keep in mind you might have a hard time receiving your order before Valentine’s Day. If that’s the case, you might find the same book available for pickup at other retailers like Barnes & Noble. You can also find free activity books online that you can download as PDFs. Or, if you’re feeling really creative, create your own activity book that’s personalized for your relationship.

3. “Galentine’s Day” Goodies

Estimated cost: $40

Plan on staying in, watching Netflix and celebrating “Galentine’s Day” with one of your closest friends this year? Take a quick trip to the store to pick up some affordable snacks, games and beauty goodies she’ll enjoy. For example, Target has the following for a fun girls’ night in:

  • Yes to Primrose Valentine’s Day Mud Mask Facial Treatment: $2.50
  • OPI Elephantastic Pink Nail Polish: $8.69
  • Da Bomb Bath Fizzers Party Bomb Bath Soak: $4.99
  • Ghirardelli Valentine’s Day Chocolate Hearts Assortment Gift: $9.99
  • University Games Truth or Dare: $13.39

For more affordable gift ideas, check out Target’s selection. To grab your gifts fast, consider using order pickup before you head to the store.

4. Make a Meal for Your Date

Estimated cost: $0-$40

Instead of buying the traditional gifts of flowers, candy, jewelry or even a stuffed animal, why not give your Valentine an experience to commemorate the day? A restaurant dinner can be pricey, but making a favorite meal at home might be appreciated even more.

If your date has a favorite meal at a particular restaurant, try finding the recipe online. For example, The Cheesecake Factory has several recipes on its website, including its Tuscan chicken dish. For this recipe, you’ll need boneless/skinless chicken breasts, grape and Roma tomatoes, farro, asparagus, capers, artichoke hearts and a few other ingredients. Depending on which ingredients you already have in your kitchen, this recipe can be very low-cost and easy to make.

For the full list of ingredients and instructions, visit The Cheesecake Factory’s website.

Try These: Romantic Valentine’s Day Dinner Recipes for $10 or Less

5. Do Something Your Significant Other Enjoys

Estimated cost: Free

You could also make plans to do something that your significant other likes to do, but you might not particularly care for. Take your adventurous partner to an indoor rock-climbing wall, even if you’re more of a movie person. Do you hate to exercise but your partner is a fitness fanatic? Go on a romantic hike with them at their favorite spot. Planning something that you know they’ll really enjoy, even if it wouldn’t be your first choice, can be very romantic.

Save more with these Valentine’s Day freebies and deals.

More on Valentine’s Day

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Sydney Champion contributed to the reporting for this article.