Let’s be honest- out of the two big annual events this month, you’re going to have more fun with the one where you can guiltlessly eat a family of four’s daily calorie intake in pancakes than the one where you can’t log on to facebook without reading about how everybody has the world’s most romantic boyfriend/girlfirend/mum. Even for the single, the modern 14th of Feb comes with a big demand for bachelors and bachelorettes to come together and celebrate their independence. To add to the pressure, the exponentially decreasing bank balance that glares at you every time you go for a catch up with the cash machine isn’t going to let you have a crazy weekend. You’re on a student budget after all, but it’s a good job that money doesn’t always buy you happiness. Fear not, for there are still ways that you can have a memorable Valentine’s on a shoestring.
Cut the clintons
There seems to be a big deal these days with having to buy fashionable cards and Thorntons chocolates with the highest price tag you can find. Card factory does brilliant deals on token gifts as well as cards (10 for £1, anybody?) and there are plenty of websites or programmes that would let you make your own photo-edit that moonpig would take an arm and a leg off you for. Settle for sending one of those sarcastic ecards that start floating around on social media this time of year. Those scrap bits of paper and post-it note that you have lying around could all go in to a home made masterpiece worth far more (and far cringier) than anything store bought. If you feel especially confident about your relationship then wait for all of this year’s lovey-dovey cards to go on sale and you’ve sorted out next year.
Bring the classy
For some, a lack of affordability is not enough to deter them from the allure of eating out and hitting the town. If this is you, then don’t go changing – but maybe change the venue. Be the biggest cheapskate you can be and treat your date to the most spectacular Big Mac or spoons 2-for-1 deal that spare change can buy. Strut in like you’re the Warden of the North, dress up like the King of Siam and show those peasants how it’s done.
Pick your day
Getting a table on Valentine’s day can be a nightmare and the good places tend to be taken early on. Why give in to the tradition of having to celebrate it on the 14th? Choose a different day when you can get student deals to save a bob (such as Mondays and Tuesdays at Pizza Express, or Meerkat Movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays) and feel less like an insignificant duo in an ocean of other complying couples.
If you’re going to spend the whole day in bed, don’t do it on your own. Build the best damn fort you possibly can, gather the clan and take advantage of that six month Amazon prime trial for students. Bond without having to ever get out of your pyjamas.#
If you go down to the woods today…
Remember the childhood days of your parents’ packed lunches and days out without a McDonalds in sight? Well, the government says that you’re an adult now and perfectly capable of doing this yourself! Bring your towel for a mat, throw together the sloppiest sandwiches you can and find yourself a patch of land without a ‘keep off the grass’ sign and voila…you have yourselves a picnic!
Get your boots on
If you have access to a particularly large patch of land (AKA the countryside) and the heavens haven’t opened, take to the footpaths and spend a day getting lost in fresh air. Make Valentine’s day an excuse to escape the consumerism and rat race of people diving straight in to the usual formula. You’ll find that time just melts away when you aren’t sticking to a schedule and are exploring somewhere new.
Come dine with me
Take over your flat or house kitchen for the night, stick on some ambient fairy lights and challenge yourself to cook something beyond Uncle Ben’s rice. Websites like https://studentrecipes.com/ are full of dishes that even the incompetent can slap together without making the microwave explode. Even though you might not be getting a change of location, make smart dresswear mandatory to add some pizzazz. Follow it up with a night of romcoms. Or Star Wars, because why not?
The more digging you do, the more you’ll be surprised by how many free places or underground events there are to uncover for Valentine’s day. Use it as an excuse to get cultured. Most cities have a plethora of free museums or comedy and music events to experience that you won’t normally see advertised due to their lack of a price tag.
Get cocky with your mixers
If you want to simply drown your sorrows, do it with a bit of class. Instead of your usual round of cans and card games, put on your own student cocktail night. Find someone who has a cocktail shaker, buy in some paper cups and straws and tell everyone in your group to bring along a contribution, whether it be 20p mixer or ice cubes. Everybody has dribs and drabs of vodka and rum hiding in the back of their cupboards, or those mystery bottles that an anonymous predrinks attendee left but no flatmate has yet had the guts to claim. Simplified cocktail recipes are easy to find online and, if you’re feeling brave, you could even make your own concoctions. You get an excuse to suit up, nobody gets fussy about who’s alcohol is who’s and everybody gets nicely tipsy. Win, win!
Go on a treasure hunt
For those who are spending Valentine’s with their best friend or fellow long term relationship sufferers, it’ll be a meeting of two people who share a lot of memories. Send your partner on a treasure hunt to rediscover some of the precious local places you’ve visited together using clues that only cost you time to type up. If you’re feeling generous (and trust that strangers won’t come across them before your unwilling victim gets chance) then leave little trinkets. It’s a hard task to pull off, but can be done entirely for free and can take as long as you like. If you want to really wind them up, make yourself the prize at the end of the hunt and tell them that you’re the only gift they need.
So, before you go throwing your head under the covers in a bid to will Valentine’s Day away, get creative and use it as a chance to try something new and cheap or even free. It might be a sham of a public holiday but that doesn’t mean you can't enjoy it!