7 Fun and Frugal Valentine’s Day Activities for Singles

Sure, we all know that Valentine’s Day is a contrived holiday, manufactured by the greeting card companies. But that doesn’t mean that you want to be excluded from it just because you’re unattached – especially if you’re newly single. The truth is that even if you feel like the only kid in class to not get a heart-shaped card, you can take back the day.

Being single on Valentine’s Day is a bonus for frugal fun-lovers. You don’t have to splash out on pricey fixed-price dinners at overcrowded restaurants or break the bank on expensive bling for someone else.

It’s just you, and you can make it a day to show your love for all kinds of significant others, or indulge in some much-needed self-care. Check out these seven ideas for celebrating single-style without blowing your budget.

1. Host a game night. Share the love with your single pals by inviting them over for some frugal festivities. Ask everyone to bring a drink or snack – and the most ridiculous gift they can find for under $10. Think heart-eyed emoji slippers, prank rubber chocolates or anything in a snow globe. Give a small prize for the most hideous.

Then settle in for a friendly game of low-stakes poker or Exploding Kittens. Or make a drinking game of watching “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette.” Every time someone says “amazing,” “journey” or “dramatic,” you take a sip of your drink.

2. Try something new. Forget about wallowing over a pint of Ben & Jerry’s or crying into your beer. Get out and have a mini-adventure. Trying activities you’ve never done before helps distract you from any left-out feelings you may be having, while expanding your horizons. It doesn’t have to be an over-the-top bucket-list item, so long as you’re outside of your comfort zone.

Find a new trail to hike or cross-country ski. Check out that offbeat museum you’ve been meaning to visit. Or take a free class in photography, camp cooking or salsa dancing. You might even make some new connections that could lead to lasting friendships.

3. Watch a movie marathon. Celebrate the fact that you don’t have to share the remote with a partner. Gather friends or enjoy a solo night with the couch all to yourself. Choose a theme, pop some popcorn and then let the film fest begin. Watch a bunch of “Star Wars” movies, binge on bro-mantic comedies or get your blood pumping with a handful of horror flicks. Just stay away from sappy romance films. Those can be scarier than “Saw II” on Valentine’s Day night.

4. Head out. There’s nothing like a night out with friends to help you forget Cupid and appreciate the freedom that comes from being unattached. Skip the candlelit restaurants and share some plates at a cheap Chinese joint or greasy spoon. Then head to a fun place where the couples-based marketing is at a minimum: your favorite dive bar, a minor-league hockey game or your local bowling alley or pool hall. Make a friendly wager over the game: Whoever loses has to divulge their most embarrassing moment or belt out a cheesy song.

If you want to be around a whole community of like-minded people, plenty of venues cater to singles ready to paint the town any color but red. Set a budget, then check your local listings for drink specials, scavenger hunts, anti-Valentine’s Day poetry slams or anything else that celebrates your singledom.

5. Have a DIY spa night. Snuggle in with your best single pal and give each other home facials, try new hairstyles or colors and paint your nails an outrageous hue. You’ll feel pampered and privileged without emptying your purse.

6. Give it away. Know a widow or widower, a shut-in or just someone who’s lonely? This day can be especially hard for them. Reach out and connect. Share a box of chocolates and some jokes, or help them with a home repair.

Or volunteer to help at the local soup kitchen or nursing home. There’s nothing like seeing others less fortunate than you to put your own life in perspective. And you’ll get the kind of warm fuzzies an overpriced bottle of champagne could never bring.

7. Enjoy some puppy love. As anyone who’s ever watched an internet video knows, there’s nothing like an adorable pet to instantly lift your mood. Spend some time enjoying the unconditional affection of your tail-wagging best friend, whether it’s with an extra-long walk or some overdue grooming.

If you don’t have a dog (or cat) of your own, offer to pet sit for a friend while they’re on a date. Or take it a step further and volunteer at the local shelter. It’s a great way to test whether you’re ready to commit to a long-term animal relationship.