One of the most romantic holidays is Valentine’s Day. From chocolates to fine dining, we celebrate in different ways. The hardest challenge isn’t finding the time to celebrate. For many couples, finding the finances or child care is the challenge.

I think sometimes we can become so comfortable in our home environment that we forget we can transform it into a magical date night as well. My all-time favorite date night with my husband was not when we had a private steak dinner onboard a cruise ship. My most precious date night was when we put our two small children to bed early and had dinner in our small kitchen by candlelight followed by a cozy fireside conversation that lasted two hours.

If you are like us and have small children at home, are on a budget, and want to try something fun and new, try transforming your home into a fabulous dinner destination.

For starters, you will need a small table. If you don’t have one, use or borrow a card table with a tablecloth. You can also use a desk or even a coffee table provided you use pillows to prop up your back.

Gather candles from around your house or purchase a few from the dollar store. The Dollar Tree in Killeen also sells glass candleholders for the tall stick-type candles. These are lovely and can be used to decorate your table.

You can also add rose petals (real ones are available at H-E-B in the floral department) and make your own place setting cards. Also, have a plate on the table with a matching bowl sitting on it. Again, Dollar Tree in Killeen has nice dish sets. You can also use nice water goblets to create a polished look.

For an inexpensive, yet romantic meal, make an Italian-style dinner. You will need a bag of salad mix, penne pasta, a jar of spaghetti sauce, one pound of ground Italian sausage, and one pound of mozzarella cheese. Make the pasta according to the directions. Cook the italian sausage. Then mix the cooked pasta, cooked sausage, and jar of sauce together. Season as needed.

Dump into a 13x9 pan and cover the top with cheese. Cover your fabulous dinner with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Everything is already cooked. You are just melting the cheese.

For dessert, you can purchase individual cupcakes from Wal-Mart for one dollar or make your own dessert. Chocolate covered strawberries are always popular. Simply purchase strawberries and almond bark. Wash your strawberries and dip them in melted almond bark. Set them on foil or wax paper until the chocolate is hard (about 10 minutes).

For intimate dinner conversation, use the questions I wrote for last month’s marriage column or find some couples questions through Google.

When the time has come for your big date, turn the lights off, light your candles and have dinner. Serve the salad first followed by your Italian dinner.

Use this time to discuss your questions. Once dessert is served, remind your spouse of all the things you love about him or her.

An amazing date doesn’t have to cost much money. The memories this night will bring are priceless. Until next time, happy Valentine’s Day!

Kindra Warner is a marriage group facilitator at Grace Christian Center in Killeen and a Herald correspondent.

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