Romantic Valentine's Day date ideas don't have to bust your budget. Here's a recipe for cooking up a memorable occasion with a few simple and cheap Valentine's Day gift ideas. Dazzle your sweetie with a feast of sensory delights. The most important one, good conversation, is free.

Ingredients for Your Romantic Valentine's Day Date

1. Two or three dozen candles

Create a romantic and warm ambiance for your cheap Valentine's Day date. Buy candles from the drug store, dollar store, or discount warehouse. Everything tastes, feels, and sounds better by candlelight. Remember that!

Save money by making candle holders out of aluminum foil. You want to contain the wax and make sure the candle stays upright.

Decorate the living room with candles: one on the book shelf (not too close to the shelf above it), two by the TV, three on the coffee table, several on the dining table, and so on. Set a couple in the bedroom, too, just in case you get lucky. But wait until later to light them.

If you live together, enlist a friend to help you decorate. While you and your sweetie are out, have the friend set up the unlit candles. Your sweetie can have fun finding and lighting them while you prep the food. For extra challenge, turn out the lights, and hand over a lighter and flashlight.

2. Valentine's Day cards

Cards are keepsakes, cherished for years to come. Here's where you express your appreciation for your romantic date. But cards are expensive, especially Valentine's Day cards. Why buy one for five bucks when you can make several on a budget? Paste a meaningful picture or photo on a piece of heavy paper. Write a few memorable words on the back and post these all over your living area:

  • "I love you more than my iPod."
  • "Your laugh brightens my day."
  • "When I see you smile, I feel better instantly."
  • "Kisses on your cute nose."

3. Food

Cook if you're able, or get takeout. Chinese/Mexican/Thai/Greek--whatever she likes that reheats well. (Salads don't reheat well.) If your budget allows, take her out to dinner, then continue to follow this recipe for a romantic Valentine's Day date.

4. Romantic music

Download it or borrow CDs from the library or from friends. If you unsure about her tastes, ask her before the big romantic date.

5. Massage oil for a foot or whole-body massage

The idea is not to seduce her but to give her pleasure without expecting anything in return. Take your time. Ask if you're pressing hard enough or too hard. Express your love through touch, and be generous with the gift of your loving attention.

6. Good conversation

Good conversation is the most important part of your romantic Valentine's Day date. Ideally, you'll have good conversations whenever you talk to each other, but especially today. Ask open-ended questions. Get to know your sweetie better. Listen to the answers, and follow up on them by asking about her answers. "Why?" is one of the best follow-up questions. Here are 2 good conversation starters:

  • What's your secret dream? Would you like to entertain the troops, sail around the world, dig wells in Africa, or invent the new Frisbee and make millions? What would light your lights?
  • Who in the world would you most like to have dinner with? You can invite 3 people. Tell me why you chose them.
Author's Bio: 

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I'm the Queen of Questions and author of the ebook "Do You Squeeze the Toothpaste in the Middle: Playful Questions for Dates and Mates."

Tracey's Mission:
I help people connect through questions. It’s my passion! I love putting people together. As you know, some of the people you spend a lot of time with are virtually strangers. An enduring friendship is just a question away.

Here’s my idea of a great evening:
Invite a dozen friends, who might or might not know each other, to dinner. Toss a salad and toss out a question such as “Tell us your close encounters of the celebrity kind. Do you live near Michael Jordan’s cousin? Did you talk with Teri Hatcher in an airport? Did Tom Selleck smile at you?” [Yes, he did. And what a dazzling smile it was.]

A question like the one about celebrity encounters can take everyone from soup to dessert. By the time plates are cleared, everyone’s amazed at what they learned about the others. And so am I. (This question taught me that my dear friend Patsy is Peggy Lee’s cousin. Who knew???) My guests feel connected and charmed with each other. I feel joyous. Mission accomplished.

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