Valentine’s Day is sneaking up on you. If you are like many people, you not only have mixed feelings about the holiday, but you also have some uncertainty about how—or whether—to celebrate it.
Here are some tested tips and answers to the most common questions and dilemmas.
1. Why can’t I just ignore the holiday—and save my money?
I don’t recommend putting on blinders and skipping the holiday. Ignoring it is like closing up your heart. You don’t need a sweetie in order to celebrate. Use the holiday to reconnect with friends and family.
Use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to mend fences with colleagues, friends, and especially family. A short but sweet note can repair misunderstandings.
You can also send a card to someone you like romantically but have not had the courage to approach. Just be sure that the card and your message are friendly rather than romantic.
And you don’t even have to spend time browsing the card aisles and reading cards that you wouldn’t want to send. Go on line and send ecards!
2. I’m single—so why should I bother with Valentine’s Day?
Unless your heart is made of steel, ignoring Valentine’s Day is near impossible. Candy, cards, flowers and jewelry, oh my, are everywhere. You can’t avoid the ads and displays. And all that stimuli does seem to seep into your thoughts: I don’t have anyone to send a romantic card to.
Don’t even try to ignore the holiday, and don’t think you can fool yourself by walling up your heart.
Instead, here are some tested—and fun—ways to celebrate if you are single.
- Have a bring-a-single party. Contact your single friends, colleagues, neighbors, and acquaintances to a get-together at a restaurant, bar or someone’s home. But, the catch is that each person is required to bring another single person of the opposite sex.
- Another take on the same idea is that everyone has to bring one of the worst gifts they’ve ever received. Most people have one or two gifts stuffed in a drawer. If you don’t have one of those awful gifts, then buy something similar. Don’t spend a lot of money. Wrap the gift, and award prices for the worst gifts!
- Finally, contact a local charity and ask if they need help on Valentine’s Day. Children’s hospitals, elder care homes, and soup kitchens often need helpers to bring Valentine’s Day cheer. Then, as in the first suggestion, go as a group to the charity.
Doing good deeds creates a sense of purpose and connection. And, as an extra bonus, you have a whole group of new people to get to know.
Oh, and make sure you all go out afterward as a group to have fun.
3. Should I propose on Valentine’s Day?
Many couples do get engaged on Valentine’s Day—but before you do, make sure you and your partner have already discussed marriage. Don’t risk letting your partner’s response to your “popping the question” be a disappointment.
But more importantly than considering popping the question on Valentine’s Day is considering what you know about your partner. Do you know your partner’s favorite places, experiences or other interests? The best proposals are the ones that are personalized.
For example, “Lindy” told her partner “Luke” that she loved state fairs as a child. She had this fantasy of being at the top of a huge Ferris wheel and kissing her future husband. Luke and Lindy discussed getting married, and when Luke proposed, he did it at the top of a Ferris wheel.
4. What is a wise way to celebrate the holiday if my Valentine’s Day date and I are a fairly new couple?
For sure, aim to avoid making your date back off emotionally from that “too-muchness-factor.” Moving too quickly, in general, can hamper your relationship. And doing and spending too much can make your date feel that “appreciation sex” is expected! Pay attention to creating a feeling that the “romance” level is too intense.
Instead, limit your spending and gifts. You don’t even have to do traditional Valentine’s Day activities such as going out to dinner and buying flowers. Actually, the wait staff on Valentine’s Day often feels very stressed on these big holidays.
So, think outside the box. Think about what you know about your date. What does he or she like? Did you talk, for example, about going to a certain place? Taking a ride? Seeing an exhibit?
If you don’t yet know, ask your date how he or she would like to spend Valentine’s Day. And be ready to offer your ideas, too. Here are some things that the new couples in my study did on Valentine’s Day:
- Went to a casual restaurant that you’ve wanted to try
- Stayed in and cooked a meal with friends
- Had a casual date and then over the weekend did something special that meant something to you both such as taking a drive in the country or going to a performance or museum
I hope these tips spark some ideas! Happy Valentine’s Day!