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I’ve never been the romantic type. I like getting flowers once in a while, and I prefer a Hershey bar over a heart-shaped box of chocolates, but Valentine’s Day isn’t something I look forward to each year.

Despite those feelings, my husband and I do try to do something different each year to celebrate it — somehow.

The struggle is that we don’t really like just going out for dinner, and with student loans to pay off, dropping $200 on a single date is also not ideal.

I have a few Valentine’s Day date night ideas that my husband and I have tried or talked about doing. He will read this later and say, “We’ve never done that.” And I’ll say that we’ve talked about it and he just doesn’t remember — because I’m right. I’m always right. We’ve only been married three years so he has not figured that out — yet.

Again, I am in no way the type of person to come to for ideas on date nights. You’ve been warned. But you and your significant other can do these on Valentine’s Day:

Cook together

I find cooking with my husband can be fun while also testing the limits of our relationship as we argue about who gets to cut up the veggies. Even if cooking isn’t your forte this can still be an ideal way to spend Valentine’s Day. It is flexible in cost and a great way to spend time with your significant other.

Choose a recipe based on your skill level and cost. My favorite date night recipe is homemade chicken Parmesan with a side of pasta. I’m able to make the dish for $20. You can make it for less if you choose pre-made marinara sauce instead of making it from scratch.

Plus, there’s no wait at the restaurant and no bill waiting for you after you finish eating. Win-win!

Game night

Are you competitive? Do you really want to know what your date’s ugly side looks like so you can decide if it’s worth staying in a relationship with them?

Here is what you do:

You and partner each choose two games. This can be video games, board games, foosball, whatever. Just don’t pick Monopoly unless you plan to play until dawn breaks the next day.

Next, agree on one final game if a tiebreaker is needed. Play a round in each game and the one with the most points wins.

What’s the prize? You get to pick what to do next year because this is a bad idea and you’ll probably regret it.

Do some crafting

My husband enjoys making things. I just wish I could at least manage to color within the lines. I’m pretty terrible when it comes to crafting.

We have spent time together working on some crafting projects. I don’t think we ever finished one of them because one of us would get frustrated and say, “Just forget it.” But just because it didn’t work for us doesn’t mean it won’t work for others.

Double-feature at home

You each pick a movie and pop a big bowl of popcorn. That’s it.

It can be your favorite movie, a movie you love because it’s so bad or a cheesy rom-com. If my husband and I did this he would probably choose “Lord of the Rings,” the extended edition, because those movies just aren’t long enough in their original form.

I would pick “Beauty and the Beast,” the good version. I shouldn’t have to tell anyone which one that is. But to me it would be appropriate for the day, and you really can’t go wrong with an animated classic.

On a serious note, Valentine’s Day is a day we go the extra mile to show the ones we love how much we care. But this shouldn’t be reserved for one day. Our loved ones should be reminded of that all the time. I’m not a romantic and I don’t need gifts to know that my husband cares about me. The most important thing you can give is your time.

Kristen Hart is a reporter with the Hickory Daily Record.

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