As a holiday, Valentine’s Day is kind of a mixed bag. On one hand, it serves as a reminder to appreciate our significant others and the value of romance. On the other hand, the modern iteration of Valentine’s Day was essentially created to sell greeting cards.
Oh, and it also tends to make single people feel like crap.
That’s why I like Galentine’s day, an alternative holiday designed to celebrate the friends in your life. Here’s how you can celebrate this year without blowing your budget.
Get Inspired by the Original
In “Parks and Rec,” Leslie Knope celebrates Galentine’s Day by organizing a brunch at her favorite diner for all her female friends. Take a page from her book and plan a brunch with your friends at a local diner.
If you want to save money, host a potluck brunch where everyone brings a dish or beverage to share. You can make a filling and affordable dish like baked french toast or a breakfast casserole, or you can get a little boozy with a make-your-own mimosa bar.
Other guests can bring breakfast pastries, fruit or home fries. You’ll almost certainly pay less than you would at a trendy brunch spot – and may even have leftovers for later.
There’s nothing more frugal than getting outdoors, and a hike – even in February temperatures – could be a fun way to celebrate your sisterhood. Admission to local, state or national parks can range from $5 to $15, and admission prices are often based on the vehicle and not the number of people in the car. If the cost is based on the vehicle, see if you can carpool together to save money.
If it’s too cold to go for a long hike where you live, find a local park with some trails. Bring a thermos with hot cocoa, cider or a hot toddy to tide you over.
Host a Baking Party
This Galentine’s Day, host a baking party at your house. You could make sugar cookies and decorate them with red and pink icing, or find simple recipes for homemade chocolate truffles. While you’re waiting for the desserts to come out of the oven, pop on a movie.
If you have a large friend group, make it a potluck and ask everyone to bring a batch of cookies instead. Buy Valentine’s Day-themed to-go boxes and have everyone take a few cookies with them.
Have a Spa Day
A spa visit can easily cost more than $100, but having a spa day at your house is much more affordable. Light some candles and ask everyone to bring their own K-beauty face mask and nail polish.
Take turns painting each other’s nails, which will look much more professional than doing it yourself. Create a fun playlist with classic songs from your high school or college days.
Host a Game Night
If you and your girlfriends are into games, plan a game night. Everyone can bring their favorite board game and you can set up a couple of card tables to play on.
One of my favorite games to play with a group of girlfriends is “Who in the Room,” where you vote on who in the room is the most likely to do something, like shoplift a candy bar or flirt with someone else’s significant other. If you and your friends are cinephiles, try the “Blockbuster” game, which is like charades for popular movies.
Plan a Rom-Com Marathon
In college, my girlfriends and I would get together to watch classic romantic comedies and make homemade cocktails. If you split the cost of buying alcohol, you’ll only end up paying the price of one or two drinks. You could also make tons of popcorn and buy candy to make it seem more like a movie theater experience.
There are so many classic rom coms available on streaming services, like “You’ve Got Mail” and “13 Going on 30” – both on HBO Max – or “Runaway Bride” and “The Wedding Singer” on Netflix.
Plan a Staycation
How often have you taken advantage of the tourist attractions in your city? If you’re like me, the answer is somewhere between “not enough” and “never.” Plan a touristy weekend with your girlfriends and explore the attractions in your hometown.
Many museums, parks and zoos offer discounted admission prices to locals. Do some research beforehand to see what you should bring to get a lower rate (usually it’s just a state-issued driver’s license).
Host a Wine Party
Every year, one of my friends hosts a wine party where everyone brings a bottle of wine that they hide in a brown paper bag so you can’t see the label. Throughout the night, you’re supposed to take a sample of each wine and then vote for your favorite at the end.
Have your girlfriends each bring over a bottle of wine and a dish to share. Set a price limit for the wine, like $10, and encourage everyone to bring different varieties.
Throw a Dinner Party
Going out to dinner around Valentine’s Day can be depressing if you’re single. Instead, host a dinner party at your house. Ask the guests to bring appetizers, desserts or beverages, while you provide the main course. Having a friend-focused dinner party will cost much less than going out to eat, and will almost certainly be just as fun.
If you and your friends don’t like to cook, you can grab take-out instead. Choose something you can eat family-style, like Chinese or Indian food. For the most cost-effective option, order a few pizzas. Ask everyone to bring a bottle of wine or another kind of beverage.
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Conscious Coins.