Cheap romance: Celebrate Valentine's Day the frugal way

Inexpensive gifts

There are a few fun gifts floating around that won't bend the budget.

The InterCourses Aphrodisiac Cookbook contains recipes for 135 dishes from chocolate tortes to braised short ribs. The cookbook also includes recipes for massage and bath oils and salt scrubs for couple's time after dinner. Through Feb. 15, the website is offering the cookbook for $11.99.

Keeping with the "feed your tummy, feed your love" theme, the website offers a Make Your Own Chocolate kit, which includes fair trade and organic cocoa butter, organic cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, starter crystals, a thermometer and paper candy liners to make your own box of chocolates. The kit costs $13.95.

Keep the night intimate with a personalized pillow case, priced at $23.95 through

Varieties include "Good Morning Beautiful" with the recipient's name, "You are my sunshine" and "You are loved," among other sayings.

Free scenery

For a no-fuss romantic evening, tap into the region's natural beauty.

Couples can take a trip down the Colonial Parkway, where the speed limit is low, traffic is minimal and the scenery is gushed over in loads of travel guidebooks. Pack a bottle of wine, some cheese and bread and stop for a quick picnic at one of the small beaches nearby.

Local bridal experts say the rooftop of The Chamberlin in Hampton is a hot spot for marriage proposals, and it could be the perfect place to rekindle your love. The historic former hotel is now senior living apartments, but there are two waterfront dining rooms open to the public. The restaurants often host a special Valentine's Day event.

And most locals agree that sunset at the Lion's Bridge in Newport News is one of the most romantic spots on the Peninsula.

There's no fee for that kind of beauty.

Paitsel can be reached at 757-247-4737 or

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