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How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day on a Student Budget

Valentine’s Day celebrations come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe you’re spending the holiday happily single and embracing your independence. Perhaps you and your best friends are honouring your camaraderie and having a “Galentine’s” day. Maybe you and your partner are planning something special to celebrate your love for each other. No matter your circumstances, Valentine’s Day can be a fun and love-filled day for anyone.

However, celebrating Valentine’s Day in Australia can be tricky on a student budget. When you’re expected to splurge on flowers and fancy dinners, the expenses can add up quickly! If you’re looking for a more affordable way to experience Valentine’s Day, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to celebrate Valentine’s Day while staying on top of your student budget.

Prepare a home-cooked meal

Nothing shows how much you care about someone like a delicious, home-cooked meal. Not to mention, preparing food at home instead of eating out at a restaurant can save you a lot of money. So, head to the supermarket (after checking out our tips for saving money on groceries, of course) load up on some ingredients and get cooking! You and your loved one can even cook together for some added bonding. If you want to add a romantic flair, light a few candles and put on some music to set the mood. Not only is this a budget-friendly celebration, but it’s cosy and intimate as well.

Picnic in the park

Valentine’s Day in Australia falls in the summer, which makes the weather perfect for an outdoor picnic. Pack a blanket and picnic basket including all the fixings for a charcuterie-style meal, including cheese, fruit, wine and cured meats. We also recommend packing a Bluetooth speaker so you can enjoy some music while you relax in the grass.

Wondering where to go? Lucky for you, Australia is home to some of the best picnic spots in the world, so you’ll be spoiled for choice. From the Barangaroo Reserve in Sydney to the Fitzroy Gardens of Melbourne, any of these stunning spaces will be the perfect backdrop for your celebrations. Whether your Valentine is your partner, your best friend, or yourself, this is a lovely and affordable way to spend your Valentine’s Day afternoon.

Soak up the sun at the beach 

Embrace the final days of Australian summer and take your Valentine out for a classic Australian pastime at the beach. You can fly solo and soak up the sun, play some volleyball in the sand with your mates or splash around in the water with your partner. No matter your relationship status, a trip to the beach is an awesome way to spend Valentine’s Day. The best part? It’s totally free!

Embrace Happy Hour

This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday. If you’re spending the day with a group of your closest friends or colleagues after work, it’s the perfect occasion to take advantage of Happy Hour deals as several venues hold Happy Hours on weekdays. This is the perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day without breaking your student budget. 

You can find Happy Hours near you using the Happiest Hour app. So grab your mates, and enjoy each other’s company over some affordable food and drinks! 

Make some DIY gifts 

Have you decided to exchange gifts this Valentine’s Day? Worried about finding the money to get your loved one a great gift? Don’t stress. When it comes to gift-giving in Australia, the price isn’t what matters – it’s the thought that counts! So, consider making a gift for your loved one instead of buying them something at a shop. By opting for a do-it-yourself (DIY) gift, you’ll not only save money, but your partner will also see how much effort you put into the gift. That kind of consideration is sure to make them feel special.

While there are heaps of ideas and tutorials for DIY gifts, brainstorm some ideas that align with your existing skills. If you’re a great baker, whip up some delicious treats. If you know how to sketch, draw them a cool print. Putting those skills to use will save you both time and money – it’s a win-win.

Not very crafty? No worries. If you do opt for a store-bought present, be sure to check out our guide to figure out how much you should be spending on gifts.

Check out cheap (or free!) events near you

If you’re keen to try something new this Valentine’s Day, check out some of the events happening near where you are! You might be surprised at how reasonably priced some events are (and some are entirely free!). 

Check out What’s On Sydney or Time Out Sydney to explore the best low-cost events and activities in the NSW capital. Similarly, Time Out Melbourne has a list of cheap and free date ideas that are perfect for those looking to treat their loved ones without breaking the bank.

For more date inspiration, check out our round-up of date ideas in each Australian capital city.

At-home pampering

If you prefer having a quiet day/night at home, pampering yourself and your loved one can be a sweet thing to do.  Whether it’s a warm bath, spa treatment, facial, manicure/pedicure, or massage, there are countless ways to relax and rejuvenate from the comfort of your own home! 

One fun idea is putting together a little DIY spa kit with ingredients you already have. For instance, it’s so easy to make a salt scrub in your kitchen using pink Himalayan salt or sugar and essential oils. Alternatively, you can indulge in exotic yet affordable products such as Korean face masks or colourful bath bombs. 

Play slow melodic music, dim your lights, light a scented candle, and put your phone away for an ultra-relaxing time!