Love shouldn't put you in debt. You can create a big impression on your sweetheart with a small budget.

Inexpensive supermarket cut flowers can be turned into lovely bouquets with some ingenuity. Start by cutting off most of the stems. The flowers are important, not their stems. Strive for a tight, round arrangement rather than a tall, straggly one.

One charming idea is to combine flowers and candy in your creation. Use two clear glass containers, one smaller than the other. Put one inside the other; fill the space between with small pieces of candy. Use wet floral foam (Oasis) in the center vase to hold the flower stems in place. Keep poking in the shortened stems of flowers and foliage to achieve a full effect.

Floral foam (available at craft stores) is also necessary if you want to do a flat arrangement in a low bowl or container. We used plastic heart-shaped bowls that cost a dollar. After cutting the foam to fit, shorten the flower stems to a single inch. We used carnations and mums to create simple patterns, easily held in place by the foam.

Carnations are one of the least expensive cut flowers but they outlast most other flowers. Colorado has a long history of growing great carnations. In the 1960s, the city of Wheat Ridge had over 30 carnation growers. They sent a bouquet each week to The White House where it was prominently displayed in the foyer. The Wheat Ridge Carnation Festival is celebrated each August to honor this culture.