Can’t Buy Me Love: Valentine’s from the Heart, Not the Pocketbook

Carolyn Howard-Johnson

This is not your typical Valentine’s tribute to love.

Love can make us do ridiculous things, one of the most absurd being to spend $120 on roses that die. If love is true, it can survive on less frivolous if not less expensive gifts. In fact, love may thrive on a frugal (but thoughtful) gesture. Here are 10 of them:

1 Plan a scavenger hunt that leads to a picnic table in the park or your most frequented fast-food diner. Decorate the table with candles and a heart. It’s the thought that goes into the hunt and decorations that count, not the dollars you spend.

2 Cut sheets of pink construction paper into little hearts; on each, write what you love about your sweetheart. Put the hearts into a little baby food bottle painted red and label it with “For My Baby.” (If you plan to get engaged, this makes a memorable way to present a ring, too.)

3 One pearl from the Los Angeles Jewelry Mart can easily cost under $10. This goes into a velvet jewelry box with a poem and a promise for another one each Valentine’s Day until she has enough for a necklace. Of course, that’s a commitment, too, and that’s the best kind of gift.

4 Generate gift certificates on your Print Shop program or make some by hand. Give what people have been asking you for. These can range from a car wash for your dad, a promise to do your laundry (and hers) for your mom, to a massage for your love.

5 Cyrano (after the most famous lover of all time) can be found at He will help you compose a love letter that can be given in person or e-mailed to the object of your affection.

6 Download some heart-themed wallpaper on your valentine’s desktop. It’s free. My favorite is at Then send him a poem you wrote yourself on his e-mail or find one by someone else at If it’s by someone else, give credit where credit is due.

7 Do Fourteen Days of Love. On the first day of Valentine’s my true love sent to me. . . It’s up to you from there. I can’t do all your work for you!

8 Give a bag of chocolate kisses. Replace the little papers in each one with buzz words that are sweet or sexy or will remind your love of special times, special places.

9 Sign up for the Glendale Community College Service Class, Make Your Own Valentine Teddy Bear. Hurry. It’s taught on Feb. 10. This one costs but you’ll be able to make teddy bears with any theme for any holiday from this day forward. Call Ext. 5015.

10 Because this is a column on getting and giving the most for very little, here are five mini-ideas as a bonus:

— You and your friends dress up and present a singing valentine to some lucky person, maybe a senior citizen or someone who lives alone.

— Run a bubble bath, light candles and put chocolates (only two!) and champagne on the bathroom counter.

— Put a love note on a bathroom mirror or the windshield of his/her car.

— Rent a movie and bake chocolate chip cookies together. Slip a valentine fortune into one of the cookies.

— Hand-deliver homemade valentine’s to your friends. Put them on their porches, ring their doorbells and run. It doesn’t count as much if you sign the cards or if you get caught.