Romance at home. Avoid the Valentine's madness and crowds and stay home. Make a wonderful Italian meal at home complete with pasta, bread, and inexpensive wine. Don't forget the tablecloth, candles, and a dessert you can share. Put on some romantic music and you have a wonderful romantic evening with someone you love. Oh, you may want to spring for a babysitter (that may be the biggest expense...but it's worth it).
Men know that a way to a woman's heart is with flowers (well, one way anyway). Check for on-line coupons first, many flower sites will be offering special deals. Also, try places you would not think about getting flowers at, such as Costco, the grocery store, Target. Usually much cheaper than at the florist. I personally would rather have a potted plant that I can replant in the yard instead of cut roses. They last longer and give me joy for years....but you know your loved one best.
Kids need Valentines for the entire class? Check the dollar store for great discounts on cards.
Instead of spending a bunch of money at the mall, try to do something personal. Make a giant cookie and write a message on it. How about a certificate to an hour long message. A picture collage. Make your own card with a poem that you wrote (it really doesn't matter how bad the poem is, that just makes it sweet).
For the kids who have Valentine's parties at school - Don't buy the goodies you send to the party, bake them yourself (if the school will allow that. I know some only allow store bought). Make extra to share with the family too. Let the kids help with frosting cupcakes or making hearts on cookies. They can tell their classmates they helped!!
If you absolutely have to go out to celebrate Valentine's Day, and you didn't budget for it, try going out for dessert and drinks instead of dinner. You still get the same wonderful feeling and you are not going to go broke doing it.
If you saved last years cards....reuse them! Make new cards from them. Cut the back off them and glue them to constuction paper for a whole new card. If you didn't save cards from last year, do it this year. Making your own cards is a great money saver and fun for the kids too!
Celebrate Valentine's Day on a different day. Who said it has to be on the 14th? It will help you avoid the super inflated prices and long lines at the restaurants too.
Make Valentine's a family affair. Stay home and have a family night. Rent a movie, play games and have fun. You will save by not having to pay a babysitter too!