Valentine’s Day: How does the UK celebrate and what gifts do they give?

Changing how you celebrate Valentine’s Day could save money, but where are the best savings? We explore how you can have a fun but affordable Valentine’s Day.

Gift box, red roses, hot tea in cup and aper hearts on background
(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the most romantic days of the year, February 14th is a time for couples, or even friends, to celebrate their love. We delved into the UK’s Valentine’s Day celebrations and found the most popular type of gift that Brits are buying for their loved ones, and how they prefer to celebrate.

To find out, we surveyed 2,000 UK residents to see how they spent this romantic day, and how money has impacted their decision-making. If money is tight this year, what are alternative celebrations, and how can we save?

How the UK celebrates Valentine’s Day

Our data reveals that eating out at a restaurant is the most popular way to celebrate the day, with 14% of respondents wining and dining with their significant other.[1]  As Valentine’s Day lands on a weekday this year, spending quality time together over a meal might be the perfect way to celebrate after a long day of work!

The next popular choice for celebrating is exchanging gifts, with 12% of Brits treating their loved one to a present. Only a small portion of the UK go to a bar on Valentine’s Day (1%), have a day out (3%), or go on a weekend away (1%). Other respondents said they have a romantic meal at home, take a cinema trip, or enjoy a takeaway, which can be great alternatives to going to a restaurant.

Surprisingly, nearly two-thirds (63%) don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s Day. Younger generations tend to celebrate Valentine’s Day more, with 61% of Gen Z choosing to opt out of the holiday compared to 70% of Baby Boomers. This could be due to not having a partner - nonetheless, celebrating Valentine’s Day with friends is a great alternative way to enjoy the day. Galentine’s/Palentine’s Day is becoming increasingly popular, offering a wonderful opportunity for celebrating all kinds of love.

Another reason for skipping celebrations could be due to financial constraints. No need to worry about splashing out this year, as we have created the perfect guide for an affordable (but still enjoyable) Valentine’s Day below.

Most popular Valentine’s gifts

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What kind of gifts do you usually give for Valentine’s Day?Percentage
I avoid buying gifts to save money13%
Tickets for a show or an event11%
An experience day10%
A fashion item/piece of clothing10%
Handmade gifts8%
A gadget/piece of tech5%

We discovered that flowers are a popular gift for Brits this Valentine’s Day, with over a third (31%) opting for the classic gesture of giving flowers. Half of men buy flowers as a gift, compared to only 10% of women. 

The Silent Generation are most likely to buy flowers, with exactly half picking this gift, highlighting how this age group has a strong preference towards traditional romantic gift giving. However, age doesn’t seem to be a huge factor. In fact, this is both Generation Z’s and Baby Boomers’ preferred gift on Valentine’s Day as well, with 39% of both generations buying flowers for their partner.

Overall, sweets and chocolate are the most popular gifts, as 37% of Brits opt for this present. An equal number of men and women buy sweets and chocolates, showcasing how sweet treats are a universally enjoyed gift on Valentine’s Day.

Jewellery, another common gift, is bought more by men for Valentine’s Day. 18% of men treat their partner to jewellery, whereas only 6% of women buy jewellery as a Valentine’s gift. Often the most expensive of Valentine’s gifts, this is one where discounts and savings come in handy. 

Other respondents said they exchanged cards, books, wine, or simply ‘something thoughtful’. On the other hand, 13% of survey respondents choose to avoid gift-giving to save money. 17% of millennials avoid spending money on gifts, the most common group to ditch presents in favour of saving.

Where are the biggest discounts on Valentine’s Day?

Last year, a staggering £118,593.14 was saved in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day (6th - 13th February).[2]  From discounts on experiences to gifts and cards, shoppers who used voucher codes snapped up some fantastic savings to help make their Valentine’s Day a memorable one.

To uncover where the best deals can be had, we looked at the average amount saved on popular gifting categories before Valentine’s Day last year.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategoryAverage £ SavedAverage % Saved
Sweets and Chocolate£1.9912%
Hotels & Accommodation£31.3011.5%
Days Out & Attractions£12.7817%

As we know, flowers are a popular choice for gift-giving on Valentine’s Day. Using MyVoucherCodes, shoppers saved a combined total of £222.56 on flowers the week leading up to the 14th of February - showing there are savings to be made if your partner loves receiving flowers. Plus, many online brands that sell flowers have add-on options for sweets or chocolates as an extra surprise for your partner.

With sweets and chocolates being the most popular gift to give, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of deals surrounding this sweet treat. The total average amount saved in 2023 was £5.98 - although only a small discount, this equated to 12% off the total average basket, and it’s always worth saving a few extra pounds. However, flowers and jewellery seem to be where the savings lie, if you are looking at ways to switch your celebrations to save money.

One customer managed to save £185.29 when purchasing jewellery a couple of days before Valentine’s Day last year. The average amount saved on jewellery the week before 2023 Valentine’s Day was £26.90, a great saving for an often pricey gift.

Travellers also had some great savings around this time, including one buyer using a discount code to save £299.69 on hotels, the perfect deal for couples looking to take a trip away. If you just want a day out, there are great savings for attractions and activities to keep you busy. We expect 2024 to be another great year for huge savings. 

Affordable and fun ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day

Enjoy a night in: One way of enjoying a low-budget Valentine’s Day would be to have a cosy night in with a home-cooked meal. Cook your favourite food together, play a game or watch a film - a much more affordable version of eating out at a restaurant and going to the cinema.

Homemade gifts: Alternatively, why not hand-make a gift? Our survey showed only 8% of the UK make their gifts, despite it being such an affordable and heartfelt way of gift giving. Some examples could be a coupon book to redeem a day off from doing the dishes or a date night. If you have a talent for design and crafts, such as knitting or embroidery, this would make a thoughtful one-of-a-kind gift.

Free activities: If you have the whole day available, there are plenty of free activities available to spend the day together. Walking and hiking might be a relaxing option, ideal if you and your partner have a dog that can come along. A winter walk along the beach or sussing out the local cycle routes could also be a great way to celebrate for the more outdoorsy couples. You might be surprised to find that many of your local amenities are free as well - you could live near a free museum or two.

Clearly, celebrating Valentine's Day on a budget can still be meaningful and enjoyable. These ideas can not only save money but also add a personal touch to the celebration, allowing you to be thoughtful about the way you celebrate.

 About this data:

 [1] To collect the data used in this report, we ran a YouGov Survey of 2,000 UK adults on 14th December 2023. Respondents were selected at random across several demographics. 

[2] Savings data was sourced from internal MyVoucherCodes transactions from 6th February to 13th February 2023. 

Nathan Walters

I joined MyVoucherCodes as a Deal Expert, searching the web and sourcing the best deals, discount codes and sales to benefit our readers. I decided to combine these money-saving skills with my love of writing and become an Editor, sharing what I have learned to help you get the most out of your money. As a student for four years, I understand the need to budget and get more for less.  As well as providing budget-friendly advice here at MVC, I have written money-saving works for well-known publications such as The Sun and Pick Me Up!

I love playing video games and later writing reviews at GameReport in my spare time. I also enjoy anything to do with technology and cool gadgets, and I'm constantly adding extras and components to my home gaming computer. Additionally, I love DIY. Having worked in a tool store as a student, I enjoy fixing things, whether my car or home.