Valentine’s Day, man. It’s nearly as controversial as Christmas. It’s another holiday with good intentions that got swallowed up by corporate consumerism, chewed up, and spat out in a mess of pink and red and chocolate and conflicting societal expectations:
LADIES, GET A DATE.
LADIES, BE A REBEL, DON’T GET A DATE. WHO NEEDS A MAN, AMIRITE?
TAKE YOUR WIFE OUT SOMEWHERE REALLY EXPENSIVE, AND MAKE IT ORIGINAL, YOU UNCREATIVE CLOD.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DIDN’T GET HER RESERVATIONS AT CHEZ LOCAL EXPENSIVE RESTAURANT OR DIAMONDS OR A GIGANTIC BOX OF CHOCOLATES? YOU’RE A WORTHLESS MATE.
YOU DIDN’T EVEN GET ME A CARD, OMG, I H8 U.
You get the idea.
First and foremost, if you’re interested in partaking in any Valentiney activities, lay out your expectations. In fact, you should probably have done this already. I’ve grudgingly come to accept that Kevin can’t actually read my mind. I know, it’s true. What I need to do now is tell him, a couple weeks in advance, that I’d like him to surprise me on Whatever Upcoming Event. That way I’m still ultimately surprised, but neither of us feels like we missed a cue.
We also discuss gifts. We set a budget for each other’s Christmas gifts and it turned out quite well. Yeah, it’s a bit lame, and probably in a few years we’ll have evened out our expectations, but neither of us wants to be the one who shows up with a gift card, chocolate, a card with a gushing love letter enclosed, and a puppy, only to be met with a card with just their name inside. Actually, no one wants to be the latter either. Hence, discussion. Unsexy, but necessary.
(We’ll learn to read each others’ minds someday, right? That’s how this works?)
Luckily, if you haven’t communicated about plans yet, there is still time! At this point, sorry, you’re probably not getting into any worthwhile restaurants, but that’s okay – you can save money and the hassle of parking by having an awesome night in. Alternatively, gather up your anti-Valentine single friends for a mini party.
1) Get takeout from a new place. Takeout is already an exciting thing for me because it means I don’t have to cook and we have leftovers for, like, ever. The 15th of every month is our Takeout Day, and we alternate between Chinese and Thai. Treat yourselves to some adventurous new takeout for the holiday – maybe Indian? Bonus: broaden your cultural horizons by watching a romance from the country whose cuisine you’re eating. I would probably track down an extremely inconvenient Moroccan restaurant just for the excuse to watch “Casablanca.”
2) Coffee date at home. Valentine’s Day is a Tuesday, which is kind of a bummer, but if you prefer to celebrate over the weekend or happen to have Tuesday fall on your weekend, you can celebrate the occasion with a midday coffee date. Decorate the table (or at least clean it off), bring out the fancy mugs, put on the hipster tunes, and give your ordinary drip (or VIA) a makeover. Take the time to actually converse with each other, and save yourself several dollars in the process. Even if you just drink what usually goes into your travel mug as you run out the door in the morning, slowing down and actually tasting it in the company of someone you love will elevate that ordinary coffee to new levels. Bonus: make your own frappucino or bake some biscotti to go along with your coffee creations.
3) Cook together. Teamwork in the kitchen can lead to disastrous spills and arguments, but it can also be fun and satisfying, especially if only one of you usually does the cooking. There’s more of a feeling of accomplishment when you get to sit down to a concoction that you partnered up to create. Bonus: Try making something related to your relationship. If you had a memorable date on the coast, prepare crab or fish & chips. If you had a special vacation in Italy, make your own pizza.
4) Fancy frozen appetizers. This is my favorite fallback for any party: go to Trader Joe’s and snap up a few boxes of spanakopita, mini quiches, and potstickers (and some fruit so we’re sure we won’t die during the event). Basically, f it’s wrapped in pastry, it’s fair game. Bake them all and lay them out on fancy platters, then pick through them over a bottle of wine. Bonus: go potluck with your friends and have them bring their favorite frozen desserts. Ice cream totally counts, as far as I’m concerned.
What, if anything, do you like to do for Valentine’s Day? Do you have any memorable Valentine’s Days, either mishaps or romantic successes?