7 Inexpensive Ways to Show Your Kids You Love Them

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You can show your kids you love them in many ways that aren't expensive. Here are 7 easy ways to love your kids that are cheap on cost but not on love.

I’ve frequently written about the importance of not spoiling kids and not going overboard when it comes to their birthdays or Christmas. I don’t believe that buying things shows your kids you love them, and I’m assuming many of you reading this agree.

That said, with Valentine’s Day coming up around the corner along with its $19 billion in spending, I was thinking of several ways I could show my children some extra love without going overboard or spending too much money. Here are some ideas:

1. Make Their Room a Party


Many people have leftover parties supplies in their house whether it’s streamers, a bag of balloons or tissue paper. Before your kids come home from school or if you’re quiet enough to decorate their room without them waking up, put some balloons on their bed, hang streamers and toss around some tissue paper.

The point is to do something surprising and silly, something you usually don’t do. Kids love balloons and parties, so if they go in their room to see you totally decorated it, they’ll absolutely love it.

2. Play With Them Outside


I love sitting down on the back steps of my house and watching my kids play outside. It’s an easy way to keep them physically active without paying to enroll them in extracurricular activities. I usually check my phone and hop up when one of them has started running towards our driveway. However, in order to show my kids how much I love them, I want to play, actually play, with them when they go outside.

Whether that’s squeezing myself into their play house or chasing them down the slide at the playground, I know that if I put in a little bit extra effort, they’ll feel the love.

3. Make Them Their Favorite SNack or Meal


There is one dinner my husband makes me that is my absolute favorite. It takes a long time to make so I usually only get it on special occasions, but I’ve come to realize, food is a really amazing way to show people you love them. If your kids are old enough to ask for a specific recipe or a certain kind of cookie, make it for them “just because.”

They’ll love coming home from school to see their favorite snack or waking up on a Sunday morning to smell cookies (that you let them have for breakfast.) Occasionally, I think you can show your kids you love them by letting them break the rules and eat chocolate when it’s not time for dessert.

4. Read to Them


Reading is a gift, and although I let my kids watch Frozen, all the time (John warned me this would happen,) I do love to read to them each and every day. My son especially loves books and will constantly bring them to me to read.

Sometimes it gets a little irritating when he flips the book back to the front and wants me to read him the same book over and over and over again but in the spirit of love, I’ll strive to read it as many times as he likes.

5. Make Believe


We all have a million things on our plate. There is work to be done, dishes to wash and clothes to fold. So, I’m sure we’re all not jumping at the chance to have a tea party or be superheroes. But, one great and totally free way to show your kids you love them is to play make believe with them.

Let go, put aside your work (which is extremely tough to do when you work from home) and be silly. Forget about the dishes and bust out your imaginary lightsaber instead.

6. Speak Kindly of Others


Even though my kids are barely talking past saying “DaDa!” constantly (and ignoring the fact that it was I who gave them birth), I still think it’s important to speak kindly about others when I’m around them. If my kids grow up hearing me talking about someone’s weight or other personal characteristics, it might make them self-conscious about their own appearance and that’s not a good way for me to show them I love them.

7. Just Say It


The easiest way to show your kids you love them is, of course, simply to say it. Tell them you love them. Give them a hug. Kiss them and hold them and cuddle them. I grew up in a family that was not affectionate at all, and while I know my parents love me, I know I already shower my kids with so many more hugs and kisses than there were in my home.

Everyone has a different style but I know my daughter, who is very affectionate like I am, really feels my love most when I’m paying attention to her and holding her. It doesn’t cost me anything and its amazing how much good it can do in my life even though it’s 100% free.


What are some other great ways to show someone you love them without spending a dime? What do you do for Valentine’s Day for your kids that doesn’t cost a fortune? What is one of your kids’ favorite make believe games to play?

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for parents who want to better their finances and take on a more active financial role in their families.


  • Hannah says:

    My son loves it when we play “tools.” It’s quite a bit more work for me since i have to be extremely vigilant that he doesn’t accidentally destroy our house, but he really loves it.

    Especially when kids are young, time and attention (and book reading or song singing) really show them love more than anything else.

  • Jaime says:

    A lot of the best times with my parents have been doing things like hanging out and baking. =)

  • Andrew@LivingRichCheaply says:

    When your kids are young…the only they really truly want is your attention and for you to play with them.

  • fehmeen says:

    Put your kids to bed yourself, kiss them goodnight, cover them up with their quilt, make a set of love-filled statements and repeat them everyday, such as ‘Sweet dreams my little one, I love you, sleep well…’

    Kids are especially emotional at bedtime and will feel the love instantly.

    This is an excellent list, btw!

  • Latoya S says:

    I love this, Cat! Especially the cookies for breakfast (that’s my sorta breakfast right there, lol).

  • Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says:

    That is so cute. I always tell my kids that I love them (with hug). It feels great doing this because it somewhat like an energy booster for me.

  • Emily @ JohnJaneDoe says:

    Thanks for making me think again about some of my own choices.

    My daughter and I do a lot of things together like cooking, reading and taking walks, but she gets pretty frustrated when I won’t do some of her favorites like play with dolls (What can i say? I was an inveterate tomboy who gave birth to a princess.)

    But one of the ways I could show her how much I love her is to play her game with enthusiasm, because it’s about her.

  • Tawcan says:

    My son loves it when I play with him and read to him. It’s really simple, just spend more time with them. 🙂

  • Angelica Sereda says:

    Found this article on Pinterest and I really enjoyed the tips. My daughters are very affectionate too so they feel the most loved when we’re spending time together and cuddling. It’s especially important now that we have a baby and they both feel a little left out.

  • Tee Tee says:

    My kids always love it when I turn up the music, grab then and start dancing.
    We sing out loud, get crazy dance contests going and just hold hands swing each other around the room, laughing and smiling and being carefree. Usually by the time it’s done we are on the floor cuddling and reminiscing about when they were younger than they are now.

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