DIY is your boo’s best friend

Cheap gifts for your sweetheart.

By Alice Bucknell

So Valentine’s Day is here, midterms are fast on your heels (again), you’re running low on cash, and you still haven’t gotten around to buying a gift for your sweetheart. Or perhaps you’re seeking to win over the girl or boy of your dreams with a token of your affection so unique, so charming that he or she would just have to date you, right?  Whatever your reason, worry no more! Maroon Arts has compiled a list of the top five most lovely, timely, and affordable DIY gifts that will knock your valentine off their feet.

5. You’re My Sugar: Who doesn’t love baked goods? Show your valentine how much you care by baking your feelings into a cake or a batch of cookies. Extra points if they’re heart shaped. Be sure to make use of the V-Day- themed pink frosting available now at most grocery stores, and don’t go light on the sprinkles. Though perhaps not as neat as your generic, store-bought box of chocolates, a gift of homemade sugary bliss will leave your lover’s mouth watering for more…if you know what I’m sayin’. (Supplies available at Treasure Island, $5-10)

4. Lover’s Talk: Surprise your love interest with a gift of the ancients: a handwritten note sure to evoke romantic nostalgia for times long passed. Compare her cheeks to roses Shakespeare-style, reminisce upon that moment you knew he was the one when he so eloquently compared Marx’s theory of alienation to a herd of goats in your Sosc class, say whatever your heart desires—the charming antiquity of your own elegant script will make even the worst pick-up line send shivers up their spine. Slip your love letter into their mailbox for an added bonus. (Classy stationery available at Office Depot, $5-10; if you’re feeling the high school approach: crumpled notebook paper, $0)

3. The History of Love:  Dust off that copy of The Wealth of Nations or The Odyssey that has been collecting dust on your bookshelf for God knows how long and bring it under the knife to create a surprise Valentine’s Day treat. Cut out a sizeable trench in the text, maybe a few inches wide and an inch or so deep (bigger books work best), and fill this hidden alcove with sweets, movie tickets, jewelry – whatever you see fit for your lover to discover (nothing too perishable). If you’re not looking to dismantle the sacred texts of the UChicago Core but still want to seduce your favorite bookworm with some old- fashioned literary lovin’, head on over to O’Gara and Wilson, Ltd.’s used books on 57th Street for some antique delights. (Cost: $5-10)

2. The Coupon Book: Listen up, those of you who don’t have a penny to spare. With just blank paper, a writing utensil, and a stapler (though embellishments are encouraged), craft your own coupon book-of-sorts for your lover. Coupons can range from “free-of-charge activities” such as A Stay-in Movie Night, to “things that cost money” like A Trip to the Zoo, or “events that should cost money but actually don’t” like A Day at the Art Institute of Chicago (bless you, Arts Pass). Handwrite these coupons, and feel free to add your own drawings or designs to the mix to guarantee a unique gift. Honestly, the more you suck at drawing a monkey or a movie theatre, the better (bad art is oddly endearing).  (Cost: $0)

1. The Mix CD: Consider this the ultimate weapon of your arsenal of homemade gifts. What could be a better gift than a personal soundtrack to occupy your lover while waiting for the bus to campus on an early wintry morning or as audio therapy between classes? Even if it’s no pop masterpiece, your sweetheart will swoon over such a timeless and personalized gift. (Pick up blank CDs for as little as $2 for a 5-pack at a Walgreens or CVS Pharmacy)