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Roses are red — and overpriced. Here are 5 better last-minute ways to spend your money this Valentine's Day

It’s time to think outside the bouquet.

It’s time to think outside the bouquet

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Valentine's Day is big business and there may be no bigger price gouge than roses. Any other day of the year, an average dozen roses in Canada might cost you $60 to $70, but on February 14, that price can quickly jump, not to mention the "special occasion" arrangements and upsells eagerly awaiting your wallet. Is it really worth it to drop $100 or more on the most predictable last-minute Valentine's Day gift ever? It's time to think outside the bouquet. There are some more rewarding and inventive ways to spend that kind of cash on the one you love, even at the eleventh hour.

Sign up for a fun class

Has your partner always wanted to play the drums but never had the courage to start? Instead of listening to them banging on the dinner table, signing them up for a first drum lesson. An introductory or one day course is a great way to try something new. Better yet, find a class you can take together: dancing, painting, pottery, meditation, massage. There are also plenty of deep-dive events on anything you feel nerdy about — go to a film screening/talk, or a lecture on a topic you're both passionate about. Don't be afraid to open both your wallet and your mind. Want to stay at home and make it extra romantic? You can even take a live cooking course online.

Try a subscription box

Roses say "I love you" once, but subscription boxes say it monthly. If your partner's into something specific, like cosmetics or bath bombs, a subscription box is way to give that gift repeatedly. There are also plenty of activity-based boxes you can use together, like ones that pair coffee with a good book, find the most romantic underwear or send you things for your beloved dog. Have a partner who hates the tediousness of shopping? Knock recurring items like razors, high-end toothbrushes, or organic foods off their list. Things like wine, artisanal meats and healthy snacks can all provide the perfect incentive for a new date night every month.

Get planting

You'll never hear about flowers again if you promise them a rose garden. Gifts of convenience and immediacy can sometimes be nice but taking a step back and embarking on the longer process can be more meaningful and romantic. So, if you'd like to go with roses, why not put a spin on it. Buy your partner a gift card for a garden centre. When springtime rolls around, go together and get yourself a rosebush (or two, or three, or four). Take time to research methods and tips on how and when to plant, maintain and grow them. Then watch them bloom (and bloom again) until you forever have a dozen roses waiting, right outside.

Find a fund

Saving the world is sexy. And showing them you care about what they care about will drive them wild. Whether you already know a nonprofit that supports a cause your partner is passionate about or you want to pick an amount of money and make an activity out of researching and choosing the right organization together, spreading the love might be just the thing to make Valentine's Day a little more meaningful. Devoting time or money to help others instead of yourselves is a selfless act that could strengthen your relationship in ways you've never thought of.

Make the house spotless

Do you cohabitate?  Coming home to a clean house is the ultimate turn-on. Imagine your partner walking into a surprisingly spotless house they can simply relax in. If you're tight on budget, you can save a lot of money and make it a DIY job. But you could also level up and take them on a day date while a  local cleaning service works their magic. If it seems like a complicated undertaking, it's not, it's the perfect last minute gift. There's even an on-demand house cleaning app.

Start saving

If you added up the total cost of all the roses you may have bought every Valentine's Day for the past decade, you may have spent over a grand. So, maybe you can exercise a little patience and foresight by putting money aside towards something you both really want. Hear us out. Your partner may not like this idea at all… at first. But especially if you're in the earlier stages of a relationship that's "getting serious", committing to saving for something in your mutual future is genuine — and major! No need to make it something serious like a house or a baby's college fund — it could be your first trip together. Pick according to the appropriate  level of commitment and show them that you're interested in the long game. As for impulse control, there's a lot to be said about the joys of delayed gratification. Show them that you'll love them when all the roses have faded away.

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