For centuries, Valentine's Day has been a day to celebrate love by exchanging gifts that express love. As the years have gone by, the standard Valentine's Day "tokens" have been flowers, chocolate and diamonds. Some people have actually received cars and houses for Valentine's Day! However, in these tough times, people in love have started casting around for new, creative and economical ways to still say "I love you."

Twitter
The phenomenon that is twitter has made it possible for people to do a lot of things like advertise products and services, hold discussions on a variety of issues and update friends and followers about current whereabouts. If all these wonderful things can be done via twitter, why not send love through a tweet? For the price of a twitter account (free), you can tell your loved one, how much they mean to you. (Learn more ways to keep this Valentine's Day high in romance and low in cost. Check out Be Mine, Frugal Valentine.)

Facebook
Like twitter, Facebook is a means of communication and a place for social gathering. Facebook has also become a popular source for giving out gifts on special occasions. This Valentine's season, Facebook is unveiling a new feature that allows users to schedule gifts for electronic delivery. If the delivery date is before Valentine's Day, it is virtually "wrapped" and delivered to the person's wall and they can "unwrap" it on the 14th. Not only is it an economical way to say "I love you," it is also helpful to those of us who never remember dates

Virtual Flowers
If you cannot conceive of a Valentine's Day without flowers, there is no need to worry. Lots of flower companies are beginning to offer virtual flowers. Some of these companies take orders for virtual flower arrangements, and assist you in sending an email and a customized message to your loved one. The companies also have pre-set flower arrangements and single roses. All you need is your loved one's email address. Not only is this gift option more affordable and convenient, it lasts longer than a real flower.

E-cards
E-cards are basically virtual cards. Whatever you can do with a real card, you can do with an E-card. You pick a design or color and either choose a greeting or customize your message. Like real cards, you can send e-cards by themselves or you can send them along with other gifts (real or virtual). (These break ups are the kind you and your wallet will want to avoid. Don't miss 6 Famous Prenup Screw-Ups.)

Gift Cards
Not all alternatives to real gifts are virtual. In these cash strapped times, gift cards are becoming very popular. Most retail stores offer gift cards for different occasions and Valentine's Day is no different. Gift cards make excellent gift because the recipient has the opportunity to buy what they really want, as opposed to receiving a gift they might want to return to the store.

You don't even have to physically walk into a store to buy a gift card. You can buy it directly from the store's website or sites such as Amazon.com. When you order gift cards through the internet, you can customize the message that is sent with the card. This Valentine's season, if you order a gift card through Amazon, you can email your loved one a gift card. You simply fill out the required information and a link is sent to your loved one so that they can redeem their gift card.

If you are a member of a rewards program like Airmiles, you can even redeem your points for gift cards that will be mailed to you at no additional charge. Talk about an economical gift!

The Bottom Line
Most of the alternative options for Valentine's Day gifts are more affordable than traditional gifts. Regardless of your financial situation, you can still celebrate Valentine's Day in a way that lets your loved one know how much you love them, but does not break your budget. The "new" gifts might be cheaper, but they are not less expressive or less meaningful. After all, it's the thought that counts.

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