How to Nail Valentine’s Day Without Dropping a Ton of Money – A Visual Guide

Valentine's Day doesn't need to be expensive, commercial, or stressful. We've got an outline for an amazing evening at home, no jewelry required.
Valentines Day should be a day of celebrating love of your life through romantic gestures
Valentines Day infographic - mail a card to her office
Valentines Day infographic set the mood - candles
Valentines Day infographic - getting started with cocktails and bread
A place setting with a ribeye steak and vegetables
Valentines Day infographic with resse\'s


The Purpose.

Valentine's Day should be a day of celebrating the love of your life through romantic gestures..

Unfortunately, it has become dreaded by men and women alike for its over-commercialization.

This year, skip the heart-shaped box of chocolates and the overpriced roses and give your significant other a day that is both simple and story-worthy.

The Setup. 

A mailed card to her office

Pick up a card today, write a short, heartfelt note to her, and address it to her office.

Sending flowers to the office is classic, but it's overpriced and creates a big show. Be more thoughtful and less dramatic by sending a card.

Give her a taste of what to expect

In the card, or in person, let her know you're planning something special at home. Tell her to wear something she thinks you'll like.

And give her your primer best. 

Take some time and put thought into what you're going to wear. Part of the fun of going out to a nice dinner is getting dressed up.

We're staying in, but we still want the night to be special so show her how attractive her boyfriend can be. Check out The Getups and re-watch Crazy, Stupid, Love for inspiration.


In the unlikely event you haven't been hit by the economic mess, feel free to take her out to that schmancy restaurant she's been eyeing.

For the rest of us: We're cooking at home, and it's going to be even better.

Set The Mood

People like restaurants for the ambiance. Make up for staying in by creating a romantic mood with low lighting and candles.

Step up your music game and make a playlist of her favorite music.


  1. She can be present while you cook, but she cannot help. At all.
  2. As the waiter/bartender/host it's your job to make sure she's got something delicious to drink and something light to eat while you cook.

Getting Started. 

Pick up a bottle of wine, but don't serve it until dinner.

Instead, ditch the $12 bottle stuff you normally give her and buy some top-shelf liquor to mix up her go-to cocktail.

While you cook, and she enjoys her cocktails, set out a warm baguette and brie wedge for her as an appetizer. (bonus points for a small plate of olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette) 

The Meal.

Pan-seared rib-eye steak with a baked potato and broccoli with butter. (do chicken if that's more her thing)

Simple. Easy. Delicious.

Talking Points. 

Stash the dishes and move it to the couch…

Refill glasses and continue the conversation.

As long as you can keep up your end oof the conversation, this night should be better than a thoughtless over-priced dinner and a $100 necklace.

Talk all night or let the chemistry between you two take over. The rest, as they say, is up to you. 

Andrew Snavely

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.