Tisinger: Enjoy Valentine’s Day without spending too much

Sarah Tisinger

For those of you who haven’t yet taken an interest, Valentine’s Day is coming up fairly quickly; Monday, Feb. 14, to be exact. Last year I wrote about the history of this event. Although there are a few conflicting theories about the origin of Valentine’s Day, the general idea is for lovers to swap “valentines” to openly express their love to one another in a gesture of courtly love.

Nowadays, Valentine’s Day is been more of a corporate holiday than anything else. Aboutflowers.com estimates about 198 million roses were produced for the occasion in 2010. “Chocolate and candy sales reach profits of $1,011 billion during Valentine’s Day,” according to allbestideas.com. Consumerism at its best.

One-hundred-ninety-eight million roses and $1,011 billion, and for what? To tell someone you love them? Our school systems start us out young, making each and every one of us to cut out paper hearts and decorate paper bags so our parents can spend money on candy and cards to pass out to the entire class. It seems so ridiculous when you see the numbers in black and white. What could America have done with those billion dollars if not for valentines? I don’t even want to think about it.

On the bright side, we can still continue to celebrate Valentine’s Day. After all, who doesn’t want one day where men can serenade their crush with a song they’ve been making up all year and look romantic and not stalkerish; or dress up and go out to dinner, just because.

For that one day, the world slows down just a little bit. Couples think about the hardships they may have overcome. Maybe someone finds the right moment to pop the question, or finally ask his or her crush out on a date. For that one day, that one moment, nothing matters but the two of you.

OK, so maybe I sound a little obsessed, but I’m tired of people who keep telling me they don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because it’s a corporate holiday. Who said it was a requirement to spend money? There are plenty of fun and fairly inexpensive options to celebrate the day in Ames and Des Moines.

Free options are, of course, the traditions of kissing under the Campanile at midnight or walking around Lake Laverne. Bowling at the Memorial Union is always a cheap option, especially if you use your student discount. Ice skating that the Ames/ISU Ice Arena isn’t too expensive and could be cute. What about going sledding and creating snowmen, then sharing steaming mugs of hot cocoa?

It might be snowy outside, but Reiman Gardens still has plenty to look at inside and is free to ISU students that show their card. Plus, it’s a good place to take pictures. The cheap theater inside North Grand Mall is a decent theater, but still remember to bring your own snacks.

Now for dinner, this is the part I like. I am a fan of either going out to nice restaurants on date nights or staying in and making something together. Restaurant.com offers a $25 gift card to Legends in Ames for only $10, as long as the bill is at least $40.

The site offers many discounts to restaurants closer to Des Moines as well. Perhaps the weekend before, as a couple, you could spend a day or the whole weekend in the “big” city. Browse Jordan Creek Mall, visit the Science Center of Iowa, get a discounted gift card to a restaurant, go ice skating at Brenton Skating Plaza; the ideas are limitless.

My challenge to you — yes, all of you — is to have a fun Valentine’s Day, to not spend too much money and to simply enjoy yourself. What are you waiting for?