There was a time when I cared deeply about what Valentine’s Day gifts I gave and received, and a time when the price mattered. You can say this was a time when advertising agencies, the “media”, and the social community tried to convince me that money, products, and gifts were measurable expressions of love. Having had one relationship which involved the frequent exchanging of great and beautiful gifts but a terrible relationship, I soon realised that luxury gifts do not make a luxury relationship; in contrast, grand gifts are often a way of compensating for a terrible relationship. Here are some ideas on how you can express your love while celebrating an age-old tradition without having to spend all your ang bao money:

Free Valentine’s Gift Ideas

  1. Artwork. Thanks to free technology and apps, you don’t have to be inherently artistically talented to create beautiful pieces of art. My favourite app for making beautiful art is Prisma. Just choose a photo that your significant other might like and with a few clicks, create instant art. Use this artwork as digital wallpaper (for a mobile device or laptop) or you can print it and frame it for a more tangible gift. Of course, if you’re really talented or up for a challenge/learning experience, you can always try your hand at creating artwork, poetry, and music unassisted by modern technology.
  1. Curated Compilations. In the 80s, to show your affection, you would make a mix tape. You would curate a bunch of songs that were meaningful to the relationship, and compile it so that the recipient can enjoy the tracks and be reminded of you, your good taste :), and the time and effort you poured into it. As the technology changed in the 90s, the tape was replaced by a mixed CD. Today, you can curate videos, television shows, ebooks, or any other digital content and put them in a thumb drive, SD card, phone, external hard drive, cloud storage, YouTube, or just a specially created folder on the recipient’s device. 
  1. A Local Sightseeing Trip. “I wish I could go experience nature” is often something I hear from people who think Singapore is too much of a concrete jungle (although, in terms of percent green spaces, Singapore is usually ranked in the top 3 cities worldwide). There are plenty of opportunities to experience nature, and many of those places make for romantic date venues. Visit one of the many beautiful parks, bridges, or historic sites, and make your own history there. If you’ve never been to ION Sky (Level 56), now’s your chance as they have a special Vday event there. There are also many places off the beaten path that are quite charming like Punggol Ranch, Kampung Buangkok, Portsdown Road, Sungei Buloh Wetlands, and the southern islands.
  1. Massage, Etc. Not much to explain here. Get some oil, some towels, maybe watch a few tutorials, and go at it. It might lead to other things (which are also free).

Frugal Valentine’s Gift Ideas

While it might be too late to buy from Amazon International (click here for Vday deals), here are some other places where you might be able to squeeze in a last-minute gift.

1. Authentic Kailijumei Lipstick – $6.90 [Qoo10 Early Bird Special (U.P. $13.90)]
If she likes flowers, but a Vday bouquet is just too cliche, she might find this jelly flower lipstick by Kailijumei to be simply gorgeous. When first introduced, people were so obsessed with these, some paid upwards of $80 for one.

2. Wet/Dry Electric Shaver – $7.90 [Qoo10 Early Bird Special (U.P. $19.90)]
This rechargeable shaver will save you time, and it’s easy to clean and waterproof.

3. 1-for-1 Breadtalk Hokkaido Swiss Rolls (Snow/Chocolate) – $15.80 [Qoo10]
Buy one, get one FREE for a limited time. These Swiss rolls have a velvety smooth Japanese cream cheese filling.

4. Charcoal Grilled Chicken Yakitori (35 Pcs) – $13.90 [Qoo10 Group Buy Sale]
Fancy a romantic candle-lit homemade meal, but not in the mood to spend hours in the kitchen? Make simple yet scrumptious meals with CS Tay products. They also have easy-to-make chicken wings, prawn burgers, and curry.

5. Bouquet Arrangement Workshop – $26 [Groupon]
While a flower bouquet may be cliche, one that was made personally by you is special. With this Groupon, you not only get to learn to make your bouquets in the future, you get to bring home your creation.

6. Flower Clay Crafting Workshop – $18 [Groupon]
Learn to make these “never-wilting” flowers using a premium lightweight clay material which withstands the ravages of time.

7. Board Game by Hasbro – from $32.90 [Groupon]
Bond over classic board games like Life, Scrabble, Risk and Star Wars Monopoly.

Some Thoughts

There are many ways to express love, and to me, the best way is with TIME, as “time is the most precious gift you can give to someone, because if you give someone your time, it’s a part of your life that you will never get back.”

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