There is nothing that I love more than the sight of burly, unshaven men toting red heart balloons down the street or schlepping pink and white flowers up to the register at the supermarket. I understand that Valentine’s Day is a miserable day for anyone who doesn’t have a significant other. I do. But somehow, watching all of the men around quite literally wear their hearts on their sleeves (—or err—in their hands?) restores my faith in humanity. It is an instant and obvious reminder that we all are human. We have hearts and homes, people to love and people to love us. We have whole lives apart from the :30 seconds we might spend with a stranger in line at a grocery store. I love that.
So in honor of this totally-made-up holiday meant to torture the single AND those in a relationship who are destined to do, make, get, or say the wrong thing, I wanted to provide some mostly inexpensive upgrades on the ways to honor your loved one this Valentine’s Day.
1) The Card. As any kindergartener can tell you, Valentine’s Day cards are an important way to define the relationships in your life. Does little Jimmy get the My Little Pony card or Dora the Explorer? Did he write, “from” or “love”? Girls always read the card, and while guys might not admit it, I have it on good authority that many of them have cards hidden in piles in their sock drawer, so I’m pretty sure they like them too. I mean, who doesn’t like being told that they’re adored?
Upgrade: The letter. I think it’s safe to say that most women assume you spend very little time picking out the Valentine’s Day card you give them, and really only focus on what you scribble in blue ink at the bottom. Why not save your $4.25 and make the whole message the scribbled blue ink at the bottom? It will mean a lot more. Not sure what to say? Here’s a start. “I love you. You make my life better. I’m so glad you picked me.” You hear that? It’s the sound of every woman in America collectively saying, “Awwwwww.”
2) The Candy. While I’m sure that Mr. Russell Stover was able to send his great, great, great, great grandchildren to college on the profits of those red heart-shaped boxes covered in cellophane, this candy can come with a conundrum. First of all, I am convinced that no one actually likes half of the flavors. What is nougat anyway? It looks like Pepto Bismol, tastes like modeling clay, and is a great way to make sure you reach the deductible on your dental insurance. Plus, we always have to offer you some, and then those empty calories do nothing but undo all of the work we did in Zumba this week.
Upgrade: Their candy. Whether it is Junior Mints, M&M’S, chocolate-covered marshmallows, or Jelly Belly jellybeans, just knowing will get you major brownie points. Added bonus if you go to an actual candy store to get it instead of just picking it up from the counter of CVS. It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day themed, but a pink or red ribbon makes it even more special.
3) The Flowers. Roses are beautiful and they smell nice and any woman would be happy to get them, but here’s the thing. Flowers die, and they don’t look very pretty when they’re doing it. They also require upkeep. Flowers are a commitment. I know people love getting them at work and showing off their loving relationship to that snotty know-it-all in Accounting, but the world doesn’t need more baby’s breath.
Upgrade: Time to Stop and Smell the Roses. The greatest gift you can give a loved one is your time and undivided attention. I understand that trips can be expensive and often involve added expenses of travel, babysitters, dogsitters, and if you’re really lucky, sunblock. That said, there is nothing that can recharge a special someone's batteries better than a little break. Even if it is just a day trip or a night at a local Bed and Breakfast, there is nothing more romantic than actually spending time with the person that you love without the demands of daily life getting in the way.
4) Jewelry. You’re good. No sassy quips necessary. I have nothing more to add.
5) The Massage. I happen to love massages, if for no other reason than for an hour I can lie still and not feel guilty about the 500 other things that I SHOULD be doing. I’m stuck. I can’t get up without creating an awkward scene from some sort of romantic comedy that would probably star Meg Ryan. Therefore I just lie there with my eyes closed and enjoy every second of it. I do understand, however, that to some people the idea of having a random stranger rub oil all over you while awkwardly trying to make small talk is less than appealing. For those people may I reccommed…
Upgrade: Real Stress Relief. You can barely scratch your head these days without hearing someone talk about how stressed out they are. Everyone is stressed. Everyone is exhausted. We’re all overworked and underpaid, trying to balance family and work while lowering our cholesterol, putting something edible on the dinner table, making it to the gym once a month, and keeping the house clean enough that no one thinks to call Human Services. With that in mind, may I recommend giving your significant other real stress relief? What drives your loved one totally nuts? Is it that their car ends up covered in salt or worse, with crumpled up pieces of Cheerios? Buy them a book of carwashes. Is it that the house is dirty and an in-law might pop by unannounced at any given second? Hire a cleaning service. Is it that they hate figuring out what to do for dinner? Print out some awesome recipes and make a book out of them. Can they never find a second to work out? Buy a few sessions at the gym daycare. They might be things that no one would be able to buy for themselves without feeling guilty, but as a gift from someone else, they’re pure bliss.
Good Luck and Happy Valentine’s Day!