The Broke College Student’s Guide to Valentine’s Day Gifts

The Broke College Student's Guide to Valentine's Day Gifts

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Ten inexpensive gift ideas for your partner on a budget.

Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to show the special people in your life how much you appreciate them. Oftentimes people associate this holiday with grand gestures and expensive gifts, but it is not necessary to break the bank to share some love this valentine’s season.

Here are 10 inexpensive gift ideas that will show some love and care to the special people in your life (and your wallet):

  1. Handwritten Card -  Nothing beats the timeless tradition of gifting a homemade card. Writing a handwritten letter to your loved one can be a great way to show them you care and tell them the ways you appreciate them. Simply grab a piece of paper and spill out your thoughts. If you find yourself stuck and unsure what to say you can find lots of prompts online or through AI to get the creative juices flowing. Be sure to be sincere and authentic in what you say. Consider adding an extra touch by including some doodles or artistic flares. You don’t have to be a great writer or the best artist to create a great card. What will matter is that you put in the time and effort to express your love and gratitude, making them feel seen and appreciated. 
  2. Paper flowers - When grocery store flowers don’t fit the budget, don’t give up on the opportunity to gift your partner, friend or family member the perfect bouquet. Paper flowers are a quick, cheap and easy way to still go that extra mile and show someone that you care. Find a tutorial on youtube or pinterest on how to make paper flowers that you think will suit your loved one. Consider making a mini bouquet or just a few stems of their favorite kind of flower. It will stand as an incredibly sweet gesture that you took the time to craft these florals (plus they won’t wilt!).
  3. Video Slideshow - Gather your favorite pictures of your loved one and make a slideshow video capturing their best and/or funniest moments. Relive the good times together through this costless gift. Add a sentimental song that means something to the both of you. Making these videos can be super quick and easy using software like iMovie or Google Photos.
  4. Cook - Expressing love through cooking for others is a tradition as old as time. Cooking can be a great gift that shows your care and appreciation for the ones you love. Whipping up a batch of cookies for your friends, neighbors, or coworkers is a super easy way to show that you care and bring a smile to their face. Serving your partner a simple pasta dinner over candlelight can be a romantic gesture that only costs a few dollars. Pay attention to your loved ones favorite snacks and treats to make it even more personalized and thoughtful. Enjoy handing out or sharing a bite with the ones you love this Valentine's season.
  5. Playlist - Making a playlist can be fun, cost-effective and a truly meaningful gift. You can personalize it to reflect the dynamic between you and your loved one. Maybe make a playlist for a family member of the songs you remember listening to with them when you were little, create a collection of songs that remind you of your friend or make a sentimental playlist expressing your love for your significant other. Add an extra touch by finding the perfect picture for the cover of the playlist, writing a sweet note in the description or creating a title that is personalized to you both with an inside joke or a quote that means something to them.
  6. Photo Prints - Print out photos of some of your favorite memories with your loved one. If you don’t have access to a printer it only costs a few cents at places like Walgreens to print out the photos same-day. You can even go a step further and personalize these prints by painting, drawing, or embroidering on the photos. Online you can find inspiration for doodles and drawings that you can create to decorate the pictures customized to the likes, interests and sense of humor of the person you are giving it to.
  7. DIY Coloring Book - Make a coloring book of pictures of your loved one or some of their favorite things like pets, travel spots, album covers or friends and family. First select the images you want to add to the book. Next, find a website that will edit your photos to look like an image out of a coloring book. There's lots of free websites that are quick and easy to use such as or
  8. Make Bracelets - Making Bracelets is a fun and nostalgic pastime that also serves as a great inexpensive gift for your loved ones. Round up some thread and beads and get creative making personalized jewelry for the special people in your life. With letter beads you can spell out names, song titles or meaningful acronyms that stand as positive reminders. Maybe encrypt a hidden message with super simple and easy morse code bracelets. If beads are out of the budget there is so much you can do with just string. Look up designs online and incorporate their favorite colors. Personalize by utilizing the colors of their fraternity or sorority, the flag colors of their family's heritage, their birthstone or their favorite sports team. If bracelets aren't their thing you can replicate these designs and make bookmarks or keychains.
  9. Picnic - Experiences often make the best gifts. Have some quality time out in nature by treating your friend, family member or significant other to a picnic. Bring a sheet, towel or blanket and find a nice spot to relax with your favorite person for a while. You can bring some of your favorite snacks and drinks to share over conversation. If you have any craft supplies on hand, bring them along and paint, color or do some origami. Other activities to consider can be playing card games, making rings or crowns out of plants and listening to or playing music together.  Picnics can be a fun and inexpensive way to unwind and show your love to the people you care about.
  10. Homemade Self Care Products - It is super easy and fun to make self care products from inexpensive materials that you probably already own. These make great gifts that your loved ones can treat themselves to feel their best. You can make a body or lip scrub by combining sugar and oil. If you have some food coloring or essential oils on hand you can add those in to create an experience that appeals to the senses. You can create a simple and tasty lip balm by combining vaseline or oil with some food flavoring like Jell-O powder. 

Hopefully these ideas gave you some inspiration to show some love to your wallet and also to treat those in your life that deserve it. Try out one or more of these gift ideas this Valentine's season and savor some sweet moments with the people you love.