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20 Easy and Affordable Valentine’s Day Gifts

20 Easy and Affordable Valentine’s Day Gifts

According to statistics, the average amount spent per person on Valentine’s Day is £119. This may be beyond the reach of some consumers, however, who struggle with more stringent financial restrictions and minimal disposable income. This does not mean that you cannot celebrate Valentine’s Day in style, as there are a number of unique, affordable and simplistic gift options through which you can express your feelings. Whether you want to invest in products, share experiences, or create gifts from scratch, you do not need a lot of money to make your loved one feel special. With this in mind, let’s take a look at 20 Valentines’ gift ideas that are ideal for those on a budget.

1. Jammy valentines and shortbread hearts

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    Hearts and flowers remain the classic Valentine’s Day offering, although there are numerous interpretations of these gifts in the contemporary age. Take these heart-shaped, jam-filled biscuits and delicious shortbreads, for example, which express your love in a way that treats your loved ones.

    2. Coconut ice and retro sweets

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      Coconut ice, another delicious treat, merges a unique and delicate taste with the color of love. Along with a host of retro sweets and chocolate bars, these products offer a fun and affordable Valentine’s gift that is ideal for anyone with a sweet tooth and a sense of nostalgia for a bygone age.

      3. A personalized ordinance survey map

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        You and your partner are likely to have a favorite location where you have spent quality time together and either launched or developed your relationship. Valentine’s Day is the ideal time to rekindle these memories, and what better way to do this than with a personalized ordinance survey map that includes the coordinates and snapshots of your chosen location, alongside a message and beautiful cover photo?

        4. A Cocoa Pod

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          British company Chococo is renowned for its affordable and unique confectionery creations, with the iconic Cocoa Pod representing the apex of these efforts. At 19 centimeters in length and filled with fresh cream and a number of delicious individual chocolates, this entire package can be purchased for less than $30 and is sure to delight your loved one this Valentine’s Day.

          5. Well-designed trinket box

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            One of the key trends in modern retail is the development of multi-functional products, which combine stylish design with a clearly defined purpose. These are usually expensive, although there are affordable options such as trinket boxes which feature simple and alluring designs, storage space and are available at less than $40, depending on the size.

            6. Personalized bottle of champagne

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              We all know that good quality champagne costs money, but there are some brands and vintages that are more affordable and even discounted for Valentine’s Day. Companies like Create It Now even offer you the chance to personalize bottles by adding the name of your partner, a song verse or a declaration of your love.

              7. Cheaper and more meaningful flowers than roses

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                Some people carry a sense of cynicism when it comes to Valentine’s Day, primarily because the cost of popular items–such as roses–soars during the build-up. This is particularly true when you buy online, but this does not mean that you cannot invest in beautiful and meaningful flowers without spending a fortune. Orchids are a viable alternative, for example, as they also represent love and strength while they are far longer lasting than roses. They are cheaper too, especially if you buy from a local, independent florist, where even lavish bunches can be purchased for less than $20.

                8. Dance class with your partner

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                  With shows such as “Strictly Come Dancing” dominating television ratings in the UK, dance and its many wonderful formats has become increasingly popular. With this in mind, why not take a one or two hour dance class with your partner this Valentine’s Day, and strive to learn the basic principles of classic and exotic rhythms such as salsa or the tango? Check your local listings for availability and price, although you should not expect to pay more than $8 per class.

                  9. Scavenger hunt

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                    If you want to spend the day with your loved one, but are restricted by a budget, you should consider planning a scavenger hunt. Start by placing romantic clues in envelopes and distributing these along a meaningful route that charts your romantic journey together (alongside some small and cost-effective gifts), you can enjoy an incredible experience that culminates with a picnic or favorite dance.

                    10. A progressive dining experience

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                      Although this is a relatively unfamiliar concept to some, progressive dining is an American concept where successful courses are prepared and consumed at different locations. This can add a sense of adventure to the typical Valentine’s Day dining experience, as you move from one location to another and take in your favorite sites, sounds and culinary influences. To reduce costs, consider including an outdoor course at your local picnic spot and visiting an intimate restaurant only for appetizers or dessert.

                      11. Couples photo shoot

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                        Photographs offer an incredible opportunity for you to create and share memories, so you should consider booking an intimate and romantic couples photo shoot this Valentine’s Day. Available through providers such as Red Letter Days, they can be enjoyed at multiple locations while costing as little as $40. Not only will you get some quality time up close and in each other’s arms, but you will also have some stylish mementos of the day.

                        12. Romantic woodland walk

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                          Communication is crucial to any relationship, although maintaining this can be quite challenging over time. Valentine’s Day provides an ideal opportunity for you to rekindle your sense of intimacy, and one of the best and most affordable ways to achieve this is to take a scenic woodland walk in your favorite part of town. As you walk along a picturesque nature trail and take in the fresh air, you can reconnect and communicate openly.

                          13. Shopping for the day at a local flea market

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                            Shopping is a universal past-time enjoyed by both men and women, although the cost can quickly accumulate when you purchase goods in an expensive city center or High Street complex. If you want to treat your other half to a quaint and unusual shopping experience, you should consider spending the day at a local flea market. Where else can you buy unique and vintage items for a pittance, while having enough left over to enjoy a long lunch or early evening supper?

                            14. Create your own spa hamper

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                              While spa hampers and trips to luxurious treatment centers may be desirable Valentine’s Day gifts, they are also expensive. You can reduce costs to less than $50 by replicating the classic spa experience at home for your partner simply by filling a woven picnic basket with inexpensive candles, simple bubble bath and an exfoliating facial mask. Include a washed and heated towel to add a neat finishing touch.

                              15. Make homemade chocolate covered strawberries

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                                If there is a single visual image synonymous with Valentine’s Day, it is a chocolate covered strawberry. You can create these from scratch, without being forced to pay inflated High Street prices. Simply melt a package of chocolate chips at a low heat, then add oil and a small amount of milk to create a smooth texture. Remove from the heat before boiling and pour into individual ramekins. Dipping a strawberry in each before leaving to cool for three hours in the fridge. Serve with cream for a more intense flavor.

                                16. Make your own marzipan sweets

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                                  On a similar note, you can also recreate your partner’s favorite sweets and customize them according to their tastes. You can buy a selection of basic marzipan hearts for a couple of dollars from a local confectionery shop, and spend a little more on individual bags, glitter and sprinkles. Then create unique and colorful packaging that showcases considerable thought and attention to detail.

                                  17. Record a digital message or declaration of your love

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                                    The simplest romantic gestures are often the best, and creating a digital declaration of your love can serve as a breathtakingly easy and affordable Valentine’s Day gift. Whether you record a simple message, a personalized poem, or a small dramatic performance, the key is to focus on your delivery and employ simple video production techniques to create the ideal mood.

                                    18. Craft a jar of cheap dates

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                                      In the absence of expensive and large-scale gestures, it is important that you create romantic and thoughtful gifts that give hours of joy. Instead of investing in a single night out on the town, why not craft a decorative jar that is filled to the brim with small gifts and personalized dates for the future? You can write or print your dates out on card-stock paper, using paper clips to attach them and optimize the space. Then place these in a single jar that has been decorated with glitter and tied with a single ribbon, and present this as your Valentine’s gift. The type of experiences that you include will depend entirely on you, but take care to customize ideas that are tailored for your loved one.

                                      19. Count the ways you love someone

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                                        Cryptic heading aside, this is the type of gift that enables you to express yourself in an incredibly creative fashion. Start by writing out 52 unique things that you love about your partner on note paper or paper cut-outs, before gluing each one of these to a card from a standard deck. You can order these how you like, and then use a hole punch and some decorative ribbon to bind them together. A gift that keeps on giving, this is something that your loved one will cherish forever.

                                        20. Make memory candles

                                        Bella Freud Loving Candle Review

                                          Love brings a lifetime of memories, and capturing these is integral to a long and happy relationship. Making memory candles enables you to achieve this quickly and easily as you take your favorite photographs and display them around the perimeter of a plain candle holder using see-through contact paper. You can use either colored or black and white photographs depending on the precise look you are trying to achieve, and can make a set for less than $20.

                                          Featured photo credit: Martin A Photography via flickr.com

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                                          Last Updated on March 14, 2019

                                          7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

                                          7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

                                          Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

                                          For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

                                          Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

                                          1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

                                          A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

                                          It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

                                          It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

                                          How it helps you:

                                          If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

                                          Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

                                          2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

                                          Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

                                          Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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                                          How it helps you:

                                          Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

                                          Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

                                          If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

                                          Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

                                          3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

                                          Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

                                          Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

                                          How it helps you:

                                          This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

                                          For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

                                          Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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                                          A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

                                          4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

                                          To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

                                          A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

                                          How it helps you:

                                          One word: hierarchy.

                                          All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

                                          In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

                                          If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

                                          5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

                                          Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

                                          Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

                                          How it helps you:

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                                          Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

                                          If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

                                          This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

                                          6. What do you like about working here?

                                          This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

                                          Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

                                          How it helps you:

                                          You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

                                          Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

                                          Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

                                          7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

                                          What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

                                          As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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                                          How it helps you:

                                          What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

                                          First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

                                          Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

                                          Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

                                          Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

                                          Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

                                          Making Your Interview Work for You

                                          Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

                                          Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

                                          More Resources About Job Interviews

                                          Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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