Still catching up from Christmas and New Year’s? No problem. It’s still possible to have a special, romantic and affordable Valentine’s Day with your loved one. Here are 5 frugal and fun tips for a decadent date night on February 14th.

Cake:                                                                                                        

A heart-shaped cake is always a fun Valentine gesture, but most people think you need to run out and purchase a special pan to get the job done. While that’s certainly a nice way to go for specialty sizes, the truth is you can pull off a decent heart cake with basic pan shapes you likely already have in your cupboards. Using your favorite cake recipe or dry mix of choice, fill both a round and square cake pan. When the cakes have finished baking, turn the square one so one of the points is facing down. It will look like a diamond. Next, cut the circle cake in half and place one half along each of the top edges of the diamond. You now have a heart. Frost at will, or take it to the next level and bake two of each for a double-layer cake. For Valentine’s Day, I recommend going selecting a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, but if you have another favorite that means something to you as a couple, that’s fine too.

Coupons:

If pennies are tight and you still want to give your significant other a gift, consider packaging up a stack of love coupons that you can print out on your computer. The key to making this successful is to choose coupon redemption options that your partner will think is amazing. Massages, breakfasts in bed and queen or king for a day are all popular options, but by all means take some time to come up with some ideas that are unique to your loved one.

Camping:

While most people think of family camping when the subject of rustic getaways comes up, the truth is that camping can be a great couple’s experience as well. Go for the gusto and consider glamping in a nice cabin where you can whip up a great candlelight meal, or pitching a tent (climate permitting) somewhere with an absolutely spectacular view. Mother nature is the perfect backdrop for getting back to basics.

Corks:

Wine tasting is an elegant entertaining option suitable for couples at any time of year, but is particularly appropriate for an affordable Valentine’s Day outing. Tasting fees are typically quite reasonable, and wineries located in picturesque destinations are by no means difficult to come by. Choose one within driving distance of where you live and turn the event into a romantic daytrip. Select a bottle that works with several of your favorite foods and you’ll be all set for a decadent dinner at home.

Cooking:

Which brings me to my next suggestion. If you’re going to skip going out, then dinner needs to be epic. Stick within your budget of course, but definitely pull out a few stops. Toss a little red wine into that mushroom gravy, get a little Mediterranean with those flatbread pizzas or wrap some bacon around those broiled shrimp. One of my favorite budget strategies for savory Valentine treats is to fold chicken wings into hearts and baste with your red sauce of choice before grilling, broiling or roasting. Buffalo, sweet Thai chili or even barbecue sauce. So long as it’s red. Basically, you place the middle joint towards you and tuck the other ends towards that same joint so they hold in place. Voila! A heart. Try this out for an appetizer or pair your heart-shaped wings with a gourmet salad and a favorite microbrew.

These are my top picks for enjoying Valentine’s Day on a budget. What are your top ideas for affordable February romance?