Valentines

As Valentine's Day approaches, college students everywhere scramble to plan a romantic day for their significant other. They look for something that is a little out-of-the-box but still encompasses the spirit of the holiday; however, there appears to be an increasing struggle between planning a charming Valentine's Day celebration while also not breaking the bank.

Luckily for Mississippi State University students, Starkville, Mississippi is filled with options for an inexpensive and unique Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day dinner is a tradition that can be very expensive. Dinner is usually more expensive and more crowded than breakfast. For those looking to avoid the dinner rush and the extra costs, head to Starkville Cafe, Nine-Twentynine Coffee Bar or The Biscuit Shop to enjoy a quieter breakfast or brunch. Chick-Fil-A in Starkville is even hosting their Sweetheart Days from Feb. 11-14 where couples can order heart-shaped chicken biscuits for $2.59 each.

Mississippi State University students shared their ideas on how to enjoy the holiday while on a budget. This Feb. 14, Maggie Meeks, freshman international business major, will attend her sorority semi-formal with her boyfriend but still has an idea for other couples.

"Cook a meal together. It saves money, is more intimate and avoids crowds," Meeks said.

Emily Koch, freshman animal and dairy sciences major, vouched for a very simple but intimate date night.  

"I would honestly say spending quality time is the best thing to do for cheap. The possibilities are limitless, such as cuddling up together with a cheesy romantic-comedy or enjoying a moonlit picnic," Koch said.

Making your own bouquet is a great option for those who want to surprise someone with flowers but cannot afford buying from a florist. Some inexpensive flowers to use include carnations, chrysanthemums and daisies. Amanda Ullman from Save-on-crafts.com gives detailed instructions on how to properly make a bouquet. She begins by loosely wrapping floral wire around the stems. Next, she cuts the stems across the bottom before wrapping them in floral tape. Finally, she hot-glues ribbon around the bottom atop the wire. Floral wire can be purchased for $2.99 at Walmart. 

MSU also offers a floral design class as a first-year experience course which many students have taken over the past few semesters. Ciera Garrett, sophomore mechanical engineering major, took the class during the fall 2019 academic semester and said the skills she learned in this class come in handy around this time of year.

"Taking Floral Design was definitely an experience, but I would say that if the opportunity presented itself, I would know how to make a bouquet for someone," Garrett said.

Another creative idea is to recreate your first date but add a special twist. For example, if you two started the date with dinner at an Italian restaurant, crack open the pantry and cook pasta together. If you saw a movie after eating at the restaurant, watch the same movie at home without sound and narrate the movie yourselves. Dress up and wear what you wore on that date as well or opt for comfort in t-shirts and sweatpants. 

Websites such as Pinterest also has different ideas for cheaper Valentine's Day dates. The website is well-known for providing recipes for do-it-yourself sweet treats. 

Making your own chocolate-covered strawberries saves a lot of money compared to ordering them from a bakery or online store. For example, Edible Arrangements offers a 12-count box of chocolate-covered strawberries for $29.99. One recipe originally posted on kidfriendlythingstodo.com makes over 30 strawberries for around $9.00, saving nearly $20 and making over double what Edible Arrangements gives you. 

The recipe requires only chocolate almond bark and strawberries. At Walmart, chocolate almond bark can be purchased for $2.77 per 24 ounce package and strawberries can be purchased for $5.69 per pound. After buying the ingredients, melt the almond bark in the microwave. While the almond bark is still melted, dip the strawberries and then place them on a sheet of wax paper to harden. To add a bit of flair, buy white almond bark to melt and drizzle on top.  

Valentine's Day has proven over the years to have broken from the traditional mold. The holiday does not necessarily have to be celebrated with an overpriced dinner and a $50 bouquet of roses. It is possible to save money and have a romantic evening at the same time, and college students specifically do not have to stress about giving their significant what they deserve and blowing their bank account at the same time.

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