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10 Romantic & Inexpensive Gift Ideas for Your Girlfriend or Wife

By Jacqueline Curtis

affordable giftsWhether it’s an anniversary present or a Valentine’s Day gift, the expectations can be high even when your funds are low. If your bank account balance limits the amount you can spend on a gift, then jewelry and other pricey presents are out of the question. However, you can still salvage a romantic day without spending a ton.

Remember that it’s the thought that counts, and if you put your mind to it, giving a memorable gift can be done on a tight budget. Crafting might not be your forte, but there are a number of gift ideas that can be created by just about anyone.

Wallet-Friendly Gift Ideas for Her

While going the “homemade” route when choosing a gift saves you money, does your wife or girlfriend really need another mix CD? You can do better than that! Show her you really care by giving something thoughtful and unique.

1. Ace of Hearts

A deck of card costs, what? Five dollars online on Amazon? Although your first thought when looking at playing cards might be of poker with the guys, you can turn them into a romantic gift for your girl.

Break out the paper, markers, and glue and pick up a couple of key chain rings from the hardware store. Using an office hole puncher, punch two holes along one edge of each card at the exact same points.

Next, use the backs of the cards to write out things that you love about her. If the decorative design on the back of the cards is too distracting, write them or type the passages on a small piece of paper and glue them to each card. Think of 51 reasons and leave the final card for a sweet message or title. To make it extra special, trim photos to fit onto the faces and backs of the cards where there is space. Alternatively, you can get personalized playing cards with a custom photo printed on each.

Finally, bind the cards together like a spiral-bound book by feeding the cards through the two key chain rings. Hello, $1 gift!

ace of hearts

2. Hometown Tourism

If your girlfriend or wife has dreams of being whisked away on a romantic vacation, she’ll probably be disappointed when you present her with yet another bunch of grocery store roses.

Instead, make part of that dream come true by planning a “staycation” in your area. Look up your town or city’s tourism department to come up with activities and hot spots to check out over the course of two days. Book a hotel or bed and breakfast and surprise her with a quick, cheap getaway.

You’ll probably be surprised at what checking out local museums, listening to live music, and a dinner date will do to score you major props for thoughtfulness. Go on an impromptu vacation? Check. If you live in a large city, you can save money by picking up a CityPASS, which includes discounted rates for the most popular attractions.

3. Scrabble Love

Get your nerd on by giving your girl a sweet, thoughtful, and geeky gift. If you already have a game of Scrabble on hand, raid your own supply of tiles, or ask friends or family to donate a few letter tiles to the cause.

First, pick out the letters that spell out yours and your girlfriend’s names and purchase a cheap frame (less than $10 for a 5 by 7 inch picture frame). Arrange the letters so that your names intersect – if your names don’t share any common letters, use a third word, like “LOVE,” to anchor them together. Next, use a bit of wood glue to affix the letters to the cardboard backing for the frame. Decorate the piece with photos, dried flowers, or other scrapbook-appropriate items. Place the glass on top, and if the fasteners on the back of the frame don’t fit over the letters, use strong tape or glue to hold the backing in place.

Voila! Now you have a wall hanging that your girl is proud to display and point out to her friends. Triple. Word. Score.

4. Homemade Chocolates

Those pay-by-the-ounce chocolates you buy at specialty shops are a complete waste of money when you can make them yourself. Even if you’re a complete stranger to a stove, you can still put together some homemade chocolate candies as a gift.

Start by laying classic-shaped or square crunchy mini pretzels on a baking sheet, then place one Rolo candy on top of each pretzel. Pop them in the oven (preheated to 350 degrees) for about five minutes, or until the chocolates begin to soften. Take them out of the oven and immediately press a whole pecan into each Rolo and allow to set.

The result? Totally awesome homemade chocolate treats.

5. Historical Tour

Every couple has a history. Unfortunately, a lot of guys don’t completely remember it!

Try digging into your memory bank to come up with four or five locations that are important to you as a couple: where you first met, where you went for your first date, or where you first kissed. It’s the perfect excuse to literally take a walk down memory lane.

Depending on the type of transportation you use, it could be free or very cheap, especially if you use nostalgia to blow off expensive restaurants. Remember that time you went to that amazing burger joint together?

take a historical tour of your relationship

6. Overnight Kit

For those of you who haven’t made the leap to living together yet, it’s likely that your girlfriend still probably stays over at your place from time to time. Instead of requiring her to bring an overnight bag, show her that you’re not a total “commitment-phobe” by putting together an overnight kit to keep in your bathroom.

Fill a basket or a makeup bag with the essentials, like a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, her other favorite toiletries, and perhaps even an apartment key. She’ll love that she has a permanent place in your bathroom cupboard. If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, the way to a woman’s heart is probably through prime cabinet real estate.

7. Date-of-the-Month Club

Sure, your bank account might be low this month, but if you plan on topping it off in the coming weeks, a date-of-the-month club “membership” shows that you put some thought into the perfect present.

Grab 12 document envelopes from the office supply store and think of 12 great date ideas. We’re talking beyond the standard dinner and a movie here, guys! List the details of each date on a separate piece of paper, insert one into each envelope, and present them to her sealed.

To add intrigue, only list the date, the location, and how she should dress. Write the date on the outside of the envelope so she knows when to open them – one for each month. She’ll love that you’ve planned 12 thoughtful dates, and you buy yourself some time to save up for each one.

8. Car Decor

Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, whatever – your lady expects the world. When it’s a special day, you need to start the day off right so she knows that you planned something. A message on her car is perfect if she’s the one who rolls out of bed and off to work each morning.

Use a window marker to decorate the windshield and windows on her car with cute, sweet messages – extra points for hearts and other designs. When she trudges out to her car, you’ll score points by giving a cheap gift that everyone can see all day long. Just be ready to help her clean it up!

9. Coupon Book

The coupon book isn’t exactly earth-shattering when it comes to creating unique gifts, but it can be completely romantic if you make the coupons as specific to your relationship as possible. A lame promise to “vacuum the living room” might draw a roll of the eyes, but a coupon for one no-whining trip to see a chick flick means more if your girlfriend or wife knows that you’re a die-hard action fan.

Think of some of the things you know irritate her, like leaving the toothpaste cap off, and offer a coupon for a full week of clean bathroom counters. It’s more heartfelt than the cheesy love coupons that you can buy.

10. Breakfast in Bed

Breakfast in bed is pretty standard, especially when you’re looking for gift ideas and are short on cash. But instead of doing the regular pancakes-and-bacon thing, use a love theme for the breakfast.

Grab a piece of bread and use a metal cookie cutter to cut a heart shape out of the bread. Then, pop it into a greased frying pan turned on medium-high heat and crack an egg into the heart-shaped hole. The result? A breakfast perfect for Valentine’s Day or an anniversary. Serve it up with some fruit and mimosas, and she’ll be thrilled.

breakfast in bed

Final Word

From a woman’s point of view, extravagant gifts are awesome, but we can always tell when they were hastily purchased at the last minute. However, you don’t need to drop huge sums of money to give a wonderful, heartfelt gift. Showing that you put extra thought into a present definitely scores high, so don’t let bank account shame stop you from making her feel special on a big day.

What are your best ideas for romantic gifts on the cheap? Have any of them totally backfired?

Jacqueline Curtis
Jacqueline Curtis is an experienced style expert, and she focuses on getting high fashion on a tight budget. She writes for several online publications, including her own fashion blog, How Not to Dress Like a Mom, and specializes in fashion, finance, health and fitness, and parenting. Jae grew up in Toronto, Canada, but now resides in Utah with her husband, two kids, and prized shoe collection.

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  • Sean H

    Jacqueline! This was awesome! As a guy we need help with stuff like this. My favorite was #5- The Historical Tour. I bet my girlfriend would love that. Thanks for the tip :)

  • Kevin Eldridge

    This is a good list and wonderful ideas. Really like the heart shaped egg idea cracked inside a piece of bread.

  • http://youhavemorethanyouthink.org/ Shawanda

    Breakfast in bed would be awesome! I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’m a pretty good cook. Which means I’m tasked with the responsibility of preparing meals almost 99% of the time. Well, it stinks. I’d like to lay around, watch television, or read countless newspapers, while someone else prepares breakfast (or dinner). And the best thing is, it doesn’t cost much.

    • Chaz

      you’re hot. I’d make you breakfast everyday in bed

  • Pokemon12

    Thank you so Much!

  • Salhay

    this list is juz awesome!!

  • TY Gifts for her

    Great post. I’m a girl and I’m here to say “chocolates” will never be too cliched plus homemade may just add that “extra something”.

  • http://twitter.com/foryourhead Shane

    These are awful. An overnight kit? Come on.

    • Ronald Jordaan

      Shane we see you have never experienced the response you get from that.
      believe me its priceless

    • Guest

      I could see a girlfriend really liking that overnight kit idea, actually. It shows the guy is thoughtful and thinking about her, as well as considering her comfort. That’s a winner with women, generally speaking.

  • Charles

    I did the deck of cards and put her face on every card…i did everything you said! So why did she leave me?!?! She was my queen!

  • Andy @ RomanticGiftsGuide.com

    Nice post! Agree all the way that it’s the thought that counts.

    Here’s another idea that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Book an artist’s studio and work on a canvas or a piece of pottery together. It’s a nice night out together, plus you’ll have the thing you created to remind her of it.

  • http://www.chictrendyshop.com/index.php gift ideas

    Being a woman i understand their point of view, in their thinking extravagant gifts are always awesome. I also think that handmade gifts are also equally liked and appreciated.

  • http://twitter.com/PickMyXmasGifts PickMyChristmasGifts

    Breakfast in Bed is a good one

  • http://wealthnote.com/ Ted Levi Blackman

    I love the staycation idea. It can be really romantic to discover great new things right here in town. Especially since while we are on our date we pass places that have good memories for both of us.

  • Syed Iqbal Hussain

    details of audio system availablee required

  • Ajkcx

    very innovative ideas

  • ben

    wtf? These are all horrible cheapskate moves. you can’t even manage your life well enough to save money to go on a real date. You might as well let her pay for everything until she leaves you.

    • Guest

      I’m wondering if you have a lady at all, Ben. Breakfast in bed is anything but a “horrible” move.

    • Susejami

      This is why you sir are a single, probably divorced and very sad man. Either that or a twelve year old. Anyone can spend their money, it takes effort and THOUGHTS (hence the thoughtfulness part), to do these things.

    • dave

      you are a bellend

  • Hani

    whoever wrote this article.. u r aweome!

  • David

    Stupid ideas

  • Ross

    City Delights chocolates got me laid last night, so I’d recommend that! :D

    • Pearson

      Ok getting those thanks.

  • Dan

    When my wife and I were celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary and money was tight, I cooked her dinner with candles and a single rose. I poured inexpensive wine into the bride/groom etched champagne glasses that we had at our wedding. She loved it. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year, I took those same glasses to a fancy restaurant (ahead of time) and the waiter brought them out and poured champagne into them, she cried a little bit. Money isn’t as tight these days, but it amazes me how the little things seem to touch her heart more than anything I could ever buy her.

  • 13Damage

    I actually bought a scrabble game, cut the board to fit the picture frame and glued the tiles to the board. The glass didn’t fit back on (of course), but the open face makes it more dimensional like a diorama

  • http://www.freetopursue.com Free To Pursue

    These ideas prove that “it’s the thought [and effort] that counts” is true time and again. Throwing money around is easy. Being thoughtful takes effort.

  • mariajlandreth

    just before I looked at the receipt ov $8130 , I
    didn’t believe that my sister woz like actualy bringing in money part-time from
    there pretty old laptop. . there aunts neighbour has been doing this 4 only
    about 22 months and at present repayed the mortgage on their appartment and
    bought themselves a Chrysler . see here M­o­n­e­y­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

  • virginiacferguson

    just before I looked at the receipt ov $8130 , I
    didn’t believe that my sister woz like actualy bringing in money part-time from
    there pretty old laptop. . there aunts neighbour has been doing this 4 only
    about 22 months and at present repayed the mortgage on their appartment and
    bought themselves a Chrysler . see here M­o­n­e­y­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

  • gladyswray

    Josiah . although Jacqueline `s stori is surprising,
    last week I bought themselves a Chrysler from having made $5060 thiss month
    and-in excess of, 10/k last-month . it’s realy the easiest-work I have ever done
    . I started this 4 months ago and pretty much straight away was bringin in at
    least $78 per-hour . why not look here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

  • davidjohns

    Hello,

    Yes you are right the best gift which you can gift to your girlfriend or wife is personalized playing cards, that idea is awesome.

  • Real Dude

    Ridiculous ideas. Clearly the author is not a guy. Come on people….seriously?

    • Joe

      Well, are you looking for ideas to make a guy feel special? If so, you’re on the wrong post…

  • Jojo

    just tie a ribbon around your penis

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