Create a romantic date from the drugstore with less than 30 minutes and 65 bucks.

Valentine’s Day: Love it or hate it, you’ve probably found yourself scrambling at the last minute to find a gift for your partner. We get it. It’s not a lack of love. It’s just that life can get busy. That’s why we wanted to put together a date night on the cheap, all sourced from your corner CVS or Walgreens.

Sure, they can be full of corny, over-priced items. But most of them have a least a few hidden gems that are surprisingly classy. And even if it’s not diamonds or pearls, it’s the thought that counts, right?

Full disclosure: I ran to the Walgreens on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis. In less than an hour (I have places to be, people), I assembled an array of drinks, snacks and gifts. Here’s what I ended up with:

Go-to gifts

Squishmallows are popular stuffed animals with silly names and quirky backstories. I found a small keychain of a monster named Willett. How could I resist that winking face? Willett ($5.99) set the stage for my ensemble.

I then spotted a fake plant in a tiny llama-shaped container ($7.99) that was a bit more subtle than some of the other Valentine’s decorations on offer, so I added it as well as some pretty pink candles in glass jars (three for $14.99). The candles were a splurge, I admit, but they’ll keep their shine past Valentine’s Day.

Finally, for the flowers. I picked up three red roses with baby’s breath ($12.99). So, it’s not a baker’s dozen, but it does the trick. (Walgreens still had full bouquets when I did my shopping. But I’d expect the selection and quality to dwindle as the clock ticks closer to the holiday.)

Just desserts

I’m a big chocolate person, so I went with two types of relatively inexpensive but delicious cookies for my Valentine’s dessert. Pepperidge Farm Milanos ($5.79, the dark chocolate kind) have an elevated look and are more grown up than the typical heart-shaped box of chocolates. They were an easy grab from the snack aisle. I also picked up some Bauducco wafer cookies ($1.25) to add to my mini dessert charcuterie tray.

I also found a Godiva dark chocolate bar with little hearts on it for $3.99. It pulled everything together, made it seem special, and I was thrilled at the price point. It definitely seems more expensive than it is.

Mocktail for two

Minnesota liquor laws were not on my side. (Most drugstores don’t sell cocktails.) So, I went for a mocktail moment. I used a cran-apple-raspberry juice blend ($1.99) as the base, then topped it off with a spritz of lime Perrier (on sale for $1.50).

If you want to get really fancy, make some oversized ice cubes ahead of time and serve your mocktail in any fancy glasses you have.

Final cost

My Valentine’s Day celebration added up to $65.35 and took me about 20 minutes to assemble. That’s certainly cheaper than a night out, and it required very little set-up and absolutely no cooking. I would definitely be a big mushy mess if I received this as a gift.

So, if you’ve yet to get your sweetheart something, head to a drugstore near you. Soon!


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