I’m a lover. A hopeless romantic. So theoretically Valentine’s Day should be my jam. But I find it all a bit tiresome. Red and pink splattered about, shelves piled high with cards containing meaningless words, gross heart-shaped candy, and half-ass roses shipped out in bulk. Is this the best expression of love we can come up with…a scheduled day filled with commercialized products attempting to strike love into hearts like a chubby cupid’s arrow. It’s not the kind of romance I want. To celebrate with a little more spunk than the lackluster barrage of cheesy crap, try these tips.
- Find some paper, and a pen, and write. Handwritten letters are often overlooked, but one of the most heartfelt means of communicating your love for somebody. And regardless of whether you have a significant other or not, there’s almost certainly somebody in your life that deserves a few words on why they are so important to you. I remember writing notes to boyfriends and buddies through high school classes. There was nothing better than a folded piece of notebook paper covered in quickly scribbled sweet nothings. For your sweetheart or loved one, forgo the texting and forget emails, pass on the popular cards, and go old school this Valentine’s Day.
- Don’t buy presents, be present. In a world filled with instant gratification, constant communication, and endless hours of work, the presence of your body doesn’t always equate to the presence of your mind and spirit. Spend time with the ones you love. Quality time. Time without distraction. Whether you snuggle up for a good movie and some popcorn, or play a lively game with a group of friends, a celebration of love begins with being present in the moment.
- Indulge in some eats. Set aside one meal and eat for joy. Don’t bother with cheap chocolates and crappy conversation hearts. Pick some of you and your honey’s favorite foods, and make a lovely meal to enjoy together. For families, go for fun food. Pancakes for dinner, or a comfort meal of homemade mac n cheese might just hit the spot. Let your kids in on the planning and prepping and don’t get wrapped up in perfection. Cap off the evening with a glass of wine or a refreshing beer. Celebrating with candy will leave you with a belly ache, but indulging in some good eats around a table with your favorite people will leave you more satisfied every time.
- Creativity counts. On this particular day, it really is the thought that counts. Putting a little time and consideration into a gift makes it personal and meaningful. Pinterest always has great ideas, but waiting until the last-minute will nip you in the ass every time. Consider your options for a couple of days, then create a gift that is a real reflection of love. A cute scavenger hunt. A jar of little love notes to be opened hourly throughout the day. A ridiculous crayon drawing paired with a favorite candy or snack item. A little effort will go a long way.
- Reach out and touch somebody. If you have a lover, get it on. And make it mushy. Kiss and cuddle and use your hands to do wonderful things. If you’re rollin solo this Valentine’s Day, make it a point to give out some hugs to your favorite folks. And if you have kids, no matter how much they fight it, smooch em and hug em all day long. And while you’re at it, high-five a stranger, fist bump a buddy, and pat a back in need. Physical contact plays a huge role in emotional well-being, which is also correlated to physical well-being. Give the gift of health with a little hands-on lovin.
- Embrace expression. You will never regret saying something kind. Spend Valentine’s day embracing expression by saying the things you might normally not. Show appreciation, verbalize your affections, and give sincere compliments. Sometimes sparking a little love in somebody requires nothing more than acknowledgement of their greatness. Everybody has greatness and deserves to know that it’s recognized. Don’t be afraid to get mushy or make somebody blush. Express the lovely and romantic things you feel and think.
I’m not at all anti-Valentine’s Day. But I am anti going-through-the-motions. Celebrating Valentine’s Day with impersonal bullshit because you feel obligated does a disservice to romance and love. Do it right. Do it well. Do it with passion and intention and heartfelt meaning in mind. Because a lame Valentine’s Day is so unnecessary.