Editor's Note: This post was originally posted in February 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in February 2020.
Is the thought of spending Valentine's in a crowded restaurant not really doing it for you? We can't say we blame you. Valentine's is much like New Years: the prices are hiked up, but the experience is usually lacking.
Just because dinner out may be off the cards, it's not to say you can't do something. There are plenty of alternative Valentine's Day ideas that can save you a lot of money, too!
If you've ever found yourself thinking "I don't know what to do for Valentine's day!", we've got your back. Today we're sharing our favourite alternative things to do on valentine's day to help you get inspired...
Alternative Valentine's Day Ideas
1. Organise a cinema night
Whether you fancy a movie marathon or a quick flick, beat the crowds and go all out with a film night at home. We're talking blankets, popcorn, pick n mix, ice cream - you name it!
If the weather is fine, you could even head to the garden with your laptop. For the perfect anti-Valentine's day date, go for a gory horror film.
Snuggle up together and enjoy feeling like teenagers again.
2. Sit under the stars - Lion King style
Have you ever actually sat under the stars since your teenage days? It's really quite nice, and makes the perfect alternative valentines ideas! Even if you live in the city, drive towards the countryside and you'll be able to see the stars clearly. Take a blanket, lie on your backs, stargaze and discuss the meaning of life or just share your thoughts and memories.
Avoid work chat and, if you have kids, why not talk about what life was like before them? Valentine's is all about you as a couple, so reminisce and look forward to your future together too.
3. Eat around the world
Can't afford to go travelling this Valentine's? Reinvent it at home instead.
Think about your favourite couple holiday destination and create a picnic of treats from that particular place. This might involve a bit of forward planning if your favourite is somewhere far-flung and terribly exotic but, if you happen to love France or Spain, think baguettes, brie, paella, cold meats etc. Print off any holiday photos you have and enjoy flicking through them together.
4. Create your own room service menu
Not so much a date, but a great alternative idea for Valentine's day! Create and print out a little room service menu that has all your loved one's favourite breakfasts, snacks or indulgent foods on it. It need not be fancy - how about a toast menu with a selection of spreads?
Serve on a tray and bring it to them before they get out of bed. You can take turns in the morning and the evening so you each enjoy the joy of being spoilt!
5. Bottomless brunch
Valentine's doesn't have to be saved until the lights go out - why not celebrate in the morning instead for a more unusual valentine's idea?
Brunch is the new breakfast, lunch and dinner date! So if you're a Londoner, go on a bottomless boozy brunch at your nearest location then spend the rest of the day snuggled up in bed.
6. Go Geocaching around town - wellies not needed!
Geocaching is all the rage at the moment. While you might think it's only for technology savvy people or those with a love of the great outdoors, that's just not the case. If you can download apps to your phone then that's all you need to get going with this worldwide treasure hunt. The app is completely free to use, though some caches do require a premium membership to find.
You don't have to trek in the woods either, lots of 'locations' are hidden in and around towns, too. It makes an interesting date trying to work out the clues and it's a lot more fun than just sitting in your local pub.
7. Go on a late-night excursion and avoid the loved-up masses
If you don't like the idea of spending your Valentines surrounded by other couples, skip the early-evening activities and head out during dinnertime.
The majority will be at restaurants or at home so you'll be free to visit a late-night exhibition, take a stroll (a classic movie moment) around the town.
8. Organise a BIG group meal with couples and singles
Valentine's Schmalentine's. It might prove tricky with some restaurants who reserve the majority of covers for two, but why not try to organise a large dinner with all your friends, including your single friends?
It's a day of love after all, and who's to say that has to be between couples only?
9. Head out to a karaoke bar and let your hair down
Valentine's doesn't have to be serious - make it unique with this seriously unique date idea! Grab your partner and dare them to sing a song in front of a karaoke bar full of people and vice versa. It's a rebellious way to celebrate the evening without conforming to the norm - we're in!
Choose a sentimental "our song' or just your favourite anthem. You could even challenge your partner to sing a song that has no mention of love in it at all - think about it... it's hard!
For a fun date that doesn't cost money, you can easily organise a karaoke night at home. Go on YouTube and search for the "karaoke version" of your favourite song. Find a bunch of props and invite some friends round for added entertainment.
10. Borrow a doggy and have a 'play date'
Do you love dogs and share endless videos of them on Facebook, but just can't commit to owning one? Visit Borrow My Doggy and sign up to look after pets around your area. There are lots of dog owners who need someone to dog-sit on Valentine's Day and other occasions, so make sure you check it out. This has got to be up there in the cute Valentine's dates category.
You could also offer to dog-sit for a friend or family member so and your other half can spend the day with their furry friend. Magical. Just don't surprise them with a rent-a-puppy, because they might think it's theirs to keep. Oh, the disappointment!
11. Celebrate on an alternative day
The 14th of February is just another day after all. Instead of celebrating along with everyone else, choose a date that means something to you or even one that's completely random - this way you can really surprise your Valentine's.
If you can't afford to do anything on Valentine's day itself, why not write your loved one a promise voucher for a meal when you get paid? You might even be able to take advantage of better discounts that aren't available on the big day.
12. Play mini-golf
It can be a struggle to find different things to do on Valentine's day, but we think we're onto a winner with this one. Release your inner Tiger Woods and get yourselves down to the nearest mini-golf course. If you're not naturally competitive, a round of mini-golf will soon get you going.
13. Go skydiving or something equally terrifying
Now, this is a truly unique Valentine's date idea. It's not for the faint-hearted.
If you're a couple that loves adrenaline and challenging one another, free-falling from the sky at a great distance could be for you. Sharing a once-in-a-lifetime experience is pretty special and you'll never forget it.
Find something you both want to do together (think bungee jump, white water rafting or skydiving) and make sure you get at least one photo to remember this odd date idea.
14. Spa day for extra brownie points
Who doesn't love being pampered? Book a couple's spa day and you'll both be able to take time out to completely switch off. Massages, manicures - the options are endless and you'll both walk away feeling a million bucks.
15. Duvet day
Sometimes, the best Valentine's plans are no plans. Yep, spend all day (or as much as you can) in bed. Cook breakfast in pyjamas and enjoy it under the covers. Read the papers, watch TV and snuggle the day away.
If you've got kids, ask them not to disturb you in the morning or organise a day-sitter. Away from the crowds and noise, this could be a real treat, especially for busy couples.
16. Unique Valentine's Day dinner idea
It's OK to want to go for a meal on Valentine's Day - you're not just another uninspired couple. You're hungry and need to eat!
To add a bit of excitement and individuality to proceedings, how about enjoying a drink and starter in a bar, some posh nosh or quick bite for your main then finish with a late coffee/dessert, all in different places?
If you want to make this experience really unique, you could even visit all your favourite places and take a trip down memory lane.
17. Enjoy a discount day
Ever noticed the crazy reductions the day after Valentine's? Set a budget and see what you and your partner can find on the reduced racks. This is a great idea for teenage couples who are on a budget and just want to play around with the idea of Valentine's.
You could have prizes for the best or cheapest gift. The best part? You can spend the day eating reduced chocolate! If you need a bit of a helping hand when it comes to saving money, we've also put together a guide to cheap Valentine's gifts.
18. Do the one thing you've always been putting off
Have you been putting something off for a really long time? Now is your chance. Whether it's an exhibition that you really want to go to, a class you want to try out or something as simple as organising your kitchen cupboards with some music on in the background.
There's nothing more satisfying than ticking something off a list!
19. Go on a pub crawl
Pub crawls might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the day of love, but they're a fun activity all the same.
Not only are they a great way to get out and about, exploring the local area, but a cheeky drink (or five!) will give you plenty of time to really get to know your date.
20. Build a blanket fort for adults
You're only as old as you want to be. If you can't afford a gift, this could make a really romantic gesture.
Escape reality, and all those other loved-up couples and build your own blanket fort for your Valentine's date night. Complete with TV, books, magazines, snacks, cushions and Netflix, it's the perfect retreat.
What's your most unique Valentine's Day idea? Let us know in the comments below!