Don’t let Cupid’s arrow hit your wallet

By Kristin Shaulis

With the economic state, most wouldn’t expect Valentine’s Day to be bringing in the money like it usually does for the proverbial greeting card companies who supposedly invented it. Add in the fact that a large majority of Champaign-Urbana is comprised of college students just trying to make it through the next rent payment, and Cupid seems to be flying away quicker than ever.

However, the average Valentine’s Day spending per person is about $102.50, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2009 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch. Even though this number decreased $20.48 from the 2008 survey, most college students still don’t have that kind of money to spend on the minor holiday.

“After spending all my money on books and keeping up with groceries, the whole idea of Valentine’s Day is just a little overwhelming,” said Ryan Coventry, a freshman in LAS.

Problem solved. Though the cost of traditional gifts such as roses and chocolate can exceed even the $50 mark, the do-it-yourself gifts below are just a few simple ideas that will still impress your significant other without leaving you overdrawn at the bank.

Picture Frame

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This is probably one of the easiest gifts to make for your girlfriend, boyfriend or just someone special you want to tell “I love you.” Pick up a cheap, plain picture frame from somewhere like Target or Wal-Mart. Find some stickers or scrapbooking supplies to decorate the frame (ribbon, paint and other embellishments all do the trick, but stickers are usually the simplest and cheapest to choose). If you want to get really creative, pick out some alphabet stickers and spell out a saying or your names and the date. This gift is straightforward and uncomplicated, but sure to get the point across. And all for under $10.

Picture frame: $5

Stickers: $3.28

Total: $8.28

Valentine’s Day Survival Basket

This gift is perfect for single girls who are planning to celebrate the traditionally romantic night with good friends. Grab a small basket and throw together everything needed to either start off or end the night. Some things to be sure to remember include: favorite movies from your collection, candy, popcorn and hot chocolate mix (or substitute margarita mix depending on the mood of the evening). Feel free to add anything else you find necessary. Not only do you have a perfect gift for your best friends, but also you’ve already planned half the night. This gift can also be given to that special someone if you plan on staying in and laying low this Valentine’s Day.

Basket: $6.44

Popcorn: $2.50

Hot Chocolate Mix: $1

Candy: $3.98

Total: $13.92

Sweetheart Jar

If your valentine loves cooking, baking or food in general, this is the gift for him/her. Buy a large jar (usually found in most stores’ home department near the kitchen supplies) and pour brownie mix into it. You don’t have to make the mix yourself. Just buy the instant mix from any grocery store. Top with chocolate chips, and close the jar. Then, take a piece of paper and cut it into the shape of a heart. Copy the baking directions from the back of the brownie box onto the paper and attach to the top of the jar. Tie a ribbon around the top, and you’re all set.

Jar: $6.97

Brownie Mix: $2.47

Chocolate Chips: $2.68

Ribbon: $1.97

Total: $14.09