LOVEBIRDS planning an expensive Valentine's Day celebration this weekend are being urged to think about whether they can really afford that extravagant gift or night out.

The warning comes from relationships charity Relate Dorset & South Wiltshire whose research has shown money worries are a top strain on relationships.

The Dorchester-based organisation says there are plenty of ways people can express their love this Valentine’s Day without breaking the bank, and it has offered some tips.

Manager Siân Merriott said: “Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to spend time with your partner and show them you care but it can also get expensive. Thinking ‘outside the box’ can really help – gifts don’t have to cost the earth or even anything at all.

“If you’re thinking of giving a gift for Valentine’s Day maybe ask yourself what your loved one would appreciate most before getting out the credit card, particularly if Christmas debts are still a problem. It’s easy to make assumptions that your partner wants expensive jewellery or to head to a fancy restaurant when perhaps they would be just as appreciative of a handmade card or breakfast in bed.”

From its experience working with thousands of couples every year, Relate knows that open communication is a cornerstone of happy and loving relationships. The charity suggests one way to make the most of Valentine’s Day is to use it as an opportunity to talk to your partner and find out what gestures make them most happy.

“This is a great opportunity for two people to talk to each other and find out what they most want as a treat,” added Siân. “It doesn’t have to cost anything – what’s most important is it shows you’ve listened to them and how much you care.”

Relate’s top tips for a cheap and original Valentine’s Day

Don’t feel you have to spend the earth

Romance is not necessarily something you have to buy – the sweetest things often cost nothing. A dozen expensive roses might seem like a grand romantic gesture but so is breakfast in bed, a shoulder massage or carrying out a chore you know your partner hates!

Put some thought into it

Think about what the person wants, not what you think they should want. Thoughtfulness is one of the most romantic qualities a partner can possess. If you’re not sure, ask them. It will show you’re thinking about them.

Be creative

Why not unleash your creativity by making your own Valentine’s card or creating a collage of your favourite photos together? Not only will it keep costs down but it will also show your partner a different side to you.

Plan a frugal date

If you’re planning a date, why not try something new together like indoor climbing or an art class which are likely to be cheaper than a fancy meal out. Another good plan for a cheap but romantic date is to switch off social media, turn off the lights and watch a film together as though you’re at the cinema.

Head to a charity shop

You can find some amazing, unique gifts in charity shops for brilliant prices.

Relate Dorset & South Wiltshire offers counselling, information and support to individuals, couples and families with people of all backgrounds and sexual orientations at all stages of life. Visit or call 01305 268690 for more information.