Putting Hallmark to shame: Creative Valentine’s Day ideas

box_of_bonbonsALL RIGHT, I’ll admit it. I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day. I’ve always been sceptical of assigning one specific day to be romantic. Shouldn’t we do that every day? It’s clearly just a way for Hallmark to make more money.

But let’s be realistic here. Who can buy romantic dinners or expensive chocolates every single day? February 14th is a treat, a date couples can look forward to. If we celebrated it every day, it wouldn’t be special, let alone affordable. So I’m coming round to the idea of Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t have to be a day for funding corporate outlets. It’s more an opportunity to embrace your creative side, pairing your talents with your partner’s interests. Do you draw? Sketch your own teddy bear card and put Hallmark to shame. Cutting up pictures and making a collage is just as cute. Or how about writing a song, a poem or a letter to express your affection? There’s no ‘one size fits all’ Valentine’s gift. Individual, unique ideas triumph over what’s mass produced.

That’s not to say you’re the Devil’s minion for splashing out on the perfect present. Whoever said money can’t buy happiness has clearly never been to Thornton’s. Just bear in mind that what’s in the shop window is usually generic, so it appeals to more people. Chocolates, teddy bears and flowers are the usual trends. Keep an eye out for the specifics. If you’re going for chocolate, what’s your partner’s absolute weakness? Dark? Milk? Cappuccino flavoured? What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of them? Showing you care means showing you know them. Think along the lines of ‘I bought you these flowers because flowers are pretty and so are you’, but with a less embarrassing twist. When in doubt, go to Etsy.com for inspiration; handmade gifts by other people are still lovely, or you might find a pattern to make the item yourself.

Communication is key in any relationship. Surprises can be wonderful, of course, but it might be worth talking through ideas and plans just to get an idea of what to do and where to go. You can easily tailor a date or romantic meal to suit you both. I say romantic, but if you don’t care for candlelight and rose petals, spending an afternoon in Starbucks is totally acceptable. Be aware that restaurants will be in high demand so you’ll need to book in advance. Domino’s, on the other hand, would no doubt love your custom. Sweatpants and pizza- that’s my dream date, hands down.

Above all, don’t let the pressure to celebrate spoil your day. Couples are comprised of two people and no more, so agree on something you both find fun and don’t worry what others might say. My cynicism for Valentine’s Day stems not from shows of affection, but from the exchange of cardboard cut-out gifts. Be original, because there’s no one like you and no relationship like yours. Use every late night conversation, every previous date and every inside joke to make February 14th as special as you both deserve.