FORT BENNING, Ga. - "How do I love thee' Let me count the ways."
In those immortal words, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wasn\'t referring to tens and twenties, but the average Valentine's Day bill seems to suggest the contrary. A box of chocolates: $10. A dozen roses: $50. A bottle of champagne: $100. And all that's before the obligatory three-course dinner and Broadway show.
This year, aim for quality instead of quantity - and I'm not talking cashmere or diamonds. Treat your sweeetheart to a date that's both romantic and memorable, without breaking the bank. Whether you want something for nothing or next to nothing, you won't have to break a 20-dollar bill with any of the options below.
Thursday - Enjoy the sweet sounds of flutes and clarinets with the Schwob School of Music Wind Ensemble. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at the RiverCenter's Legacy Hall.
Friday - Check out the area's newest site for nightlife: No Shame Theater. Spend $5 each for you and your date and see 15 original works - everything from drama to dance. Surprise your loved one by signing up at 10 p.m. to perform a special poem or song written especially for him or her. Guys, this is worth beaucoup brownie points. www.noshame.org/columbus.
Feb. 13 - Start the day early with a nature walk at 8 a.m. at Oxbow Meadows. They'll provide field guides, binoculars and a guide to show you some of the native flora and fauna of the wetlands. Make it special by whispering the occasional sweet nothing in your partner's ear as you walk. http://oxbow.colstate.edu.
Feb. 14 - Make your Valentine's Day a family affair. Grab the kids and head to the Columbus Public Library. From 2 to 3 p.m., you can enjoy a special card-making party, complete with music, story and refreshments. www.thecolumbuslibrary.org.
Feb. 14 - Take the traditional love-note to the next level. At the Columbus Museum's Afternoon with the Artist, you can meet artist Allyson Comstock and create your own paper art. Make a handmade treasure with your partner in mind, then exchange your artwork. www.columbusmuseum.com.
If you're not into the sentimental side of the holiday, join the Rivertown Adventure Club for its Anti-Valentine's Day Party at 6 p.m. Feb. 14 at the River City Grill in Columbus. Bring a date, a friend or just go solo. Free admission to the event includes meet-and-greet games. Monthly club membership of $5 includes discounted food. www.funincolumbus.com.