Valentine’s Day can add up pretty quickly. From the custom gifts to the V-Day lingerie to all those pink and red decorations, it’s ridiculously easy to blow all of your hard-earned dollars on your honey in the blink of any eye. But as with most things, you can always DIY. Who better to show you how than Courtney Sixx, the How2Girl? Creating her brand out of what she calls a necessity, Courtney is all about getting the look for less.
“After I moved out on my own, I couldn’t afford to buy all the things I liked,” she shares. Pairing a love of crafts with a bit of creativity, Courtney solved her problem by making everything herself, from her own furniture and curtains to the red carpet looks she loved most. She chronicled her adventures with before-and-after pics on her blog, and the rest, as they say, is history. “It just kind of caught on!” she says. Boy did it ever. With a website, a radio show, a TV show pilot that, with any luck, will be snatched up any day and dreams of branded merchandise dancing around in her head, this DIY maven is plenty busy growing her own empire. Lucky for us, she took a (much-needed!) break from all the hullabaloo to dish on how to have a low-budget V-Day, step by step.
Set the mood. Whether you’re making dinner or having friends over, Courtney has a bevy of ways to spruce up your scene without breaking the bank.
First up? Set the table. For her own Valentine’s Day fete, Courtney used three yards of a black and white striped fabric that she found at a local crafts store. “I think pink and red is a little overdone for V-Day,” she tells us. Courtney says that she considered silk, but it’s more expensive and you can totally get away with a cheaper fabric. “[Mine] was a nice kind of nylon, so it didn’t wrinkle.” Then Courtney added a bit of flair. “I got the big silver platters that you put your plates on at Home Goods for $4 apiece,” she shares.
For the finishing touch, Courtney handmade her guests’ inventive place settings. “I got little inexpensive glass votives and put one rose in each,” she recalls. Then she customized the favor with chalkboard spray. “You can write [a name] in chalk, or draw a pink peony or a rose. I put the centerpiece on top of the plate. It’s cute because it also works as a party favor, and your guests have a cute vase to put flowers in after the party.”
Speaking of flowers, Courtney says you’ll get the most out of your roses if you grab them and blow on them slightly in the center. From there, “you start with the outside petals and just carefully pull them back with your fingers. It triples the size of your rose,” (or bouquet – Courtney says a dozen can look like three dozen using this trick) “and it’s a really neat way to get more bang for your buck.”
As for what to serve, Courtney has you covered – at least on the cocktail side. Besides, “what’s a dinner party without a sexy cocktail?” She recently concocted what she calls a strawberry dry ice martini, based on a former drink at Mastro’s: the dry ice cosmopolitan. “You just do Grey Goose with a tablespoon of simple syrup and freshly crushed strawberries,” she says. “You can even put them in a blender. Pop it all in a shaker with some ice and shake it up.” Before you pour your drink into the martini glass, Courtney says to put a “teeny tiny” bit of dry ice at the bottom. “It makes the whole glass frozen… and when you pour it in the glass it’s super cool because it’s smoking.”
If it’s just you and your sweetie and you want to add some mood lighting, Courtney recommends draping a lamp in “a pretty fabric or a silk scarf in jewel tones (she likes turquoise or amethyst) to bring out some sensuality.”
Get the look. While options like Rent the Runway can be your best bet for a fancy night out, Courtney says it’s not necessary to blow your entire paycheck on a dress.
“For Valentine’s Day, it’s a special outfit,” she says. “It might be bright red or pink, and you’re not gonna’ wear it all the time.” Her go-to spot for a trendy look on the cheap? It’s probably the same as yours – Forever 21. Try this Forever 21 Pintucked Sipper Halter Dress in Currant ($25).
“I love Victoria’s Secret, but it can add up when you’re putting together an outfit,” she laments. “So last year, I did a TV segment on Forever 21’s Valentine’s Day looks,” she recalls. “I found a gorgeous corset that looked like Agent Provocateur. Forever 21 has everything! Garter belts, thigh highs, robes: You can get the whole shebang for under $100 and it actually looks really nice.”
When it comes to makeup, Courtney recommends going for a classically sexy look with a bold cat eye, though she knows it’s not the easiest trick of the trade. “I personally suck at it,” she says. “It’s always crooked and it’s never even.” If you’re feeling her pain, never fear. She’s got a tip for that too.
“Instead of drawing it on with a pencil liner, you can use an angular brush and dip your brush in the liner. Pull the skin back a little, like you’re giving yourself an eye lift, and flatten your lid out. I take a piece of tissue, fold it in half and put it under my eye at an angle. Then, with a flat brush, I dip it in black matte eyeshadow and go over the liner to make it extra black.”
To finish your bold eye, Courtney says to top it off with her faux lash staple, Vegas Nay Lashes. “These are super easy to apply and they totally transform your eyes.” For even more oomph, she says you can actually double up on the lashes if you like.
Make the gift. Courtney admits that Valentine’s Day can be a tad more exciting for women than men, but that doesn’t have to be the case, especially when it comes to gifts. “I think if you keep it sexy, it’s fun for guys too!“ she says. Case in point? Her own favorite gift to rocker husband Nikki Sixx was a simple video she made using her iPhone and a tripod. “I put silk satin down on the ground and laid down on it in fun lingerie,” she shares. With her favorite music playing in the background, she blew kisses and flirted with the camera. “Nikki still watches it!” she says.
She recommends getting your guy excited ahead of time by surprising him with an early present. “About a week before, wrap up a gift card to your favorite lingerie store,” Courtney suggests. But don’t use just any old box; presentation is key here. “What I did was bubble wrap the bottom of a box from Michael’s,” Courtney says. “Then I painted it black. I covered that with black satin fabric; you just kind of tuck it around the bubble wrap. I put in the gift card and I wrapped it up with a little card that said ‘You Get to Pick.’”
Don’t have the budget for all the bells and whistles that come with lingerie? Make your own sexy prop in the form of an eye mask. “Take a bit of black silk or satin and just sew it into a tube,” Sixx says. Folding one long seam around your head, cut the excess fabric off and iron it flat. Then decorate however you like – Courtney prefers nude lace with sequins. “Nude and black looks so chic and sexy,” she says. She suggests spraying some glue onto your silk, then laying the lace over it. Voila! “It’s super easy and really, really pretty.”
And cheap. Don’t forget cheap! In fact, you can even use all that leftover money you’ll have to treat your gals to something special too. Courtney suggests Maggie Louise Confections. “It’s this company I just stumbled across and they are freaking awesome,” she gushes. “They make chocolates like I’ve never seen in my life” (and they collaborate with Rebecca Minkoff). With Valentine’s Day options starting around $10 and free shipping available throughout the holiday, you’ll be the most popular Valentine around.
And there you have it! V-Day made easy in three steps. BRB — we’re going shopping for supplies!
What’s your favorite tip of Courtney’s? Let us know at @britandco!
(Photos via Getty)