When my husband and I decided to start dating seven years ago, we had to wait to go on our first date. He was about to start his second semester of college, where he lived on campus without a car. I was in my senior year of high school and was busy with academics, sports and other activities. Our first open evening was five weeks later- February 14th.
I could almost hear Luke’s eyes roll through the phone when he realized our first date would be on Valentine’s Day. My husband is one of the sweetest, most romantic guys I know. And he hates Valentine’s Day.
The way he sees it, Valentine’s Day is a fabricated holiday where people (particularly men) are required to spend a certain amount of money on their sweethearts. He dislikes being told to buy me flowers and chocolate and jewelry , instead of these gifts coming spontaneously from the heart. And if he doesn’t invest, suddenly he’s a bad boyfriend, or an un-romantic spouse.
When I was growing up, Valentine’s Day was a family holiday. Both my grandmothers carefully scheduled sending cards in the mail to make sure their grandchildren would receive a special card on Valentine’s Day. My parents never went out for dinner, instead we’d have a family date. Breakfast for dinner, game night, pizza and a movie, something all four of us could enjoy. Valentine’s Day was about spending time with those you love, not just the one you love.
Looking for some alternative ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Check out these ideas.
Visit Your Grandparents
Last year, for our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple, we spent the day with my grandparents. I made a big batch of brownies, and Grandma insisted on brewing the coffee. My parents ended up joining us at the last minute, and we had a wonderful triple date at my grandparents’ house. Grandma and Farfar celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this summer. Talk about great inspiration for newlyweds! I lost my grandfather (from the other side of the family, not my Farfar) in September, and Luke lost both his paternal grandparents several years ago. Losing them reminds us how precious spending time with the family we still have. If your grandparents live nearby, give them a call this Valentine’s Day- you’re in for an awesome double date!
Host a Brunch for Friends
I love brunch. It feels so fancy and sophisticated- plus anything that includes muffins is a win in my book. Invite your girlfriends to a fancy brunch this weekend- get out the nice china and encourage everyone to dress up. Serve mimosas- you can substitute Sprite if champagne isn’t your thing. Have a potluck where everyone brings a favorite treat (I always bring quiche!), or show off you culinary skills with an extravagant spread. Or skip the preparations and purchase pastries from a local bakery. Restaurants can be crowded and overpriced around Valentine’s Day, so skip the hassle and throw your own fête!
Celebrate “Clearentine’s Day”
Clearentine’s is a holiday Luke invented while we were in college. The day after Valentine’s Day, all the Valentine’s Day candy and merchandise goes on sale. We would go to a store like Target and set a small budget ($5 each) and purchase gifts for each other off the clearance rack. One year Luke gave me a plate featuring a drawing of the Eiffel Tower and a bicycle. Another year I found plush Darth Vader and Storm Trooper dolls, along with themed conversation hearts that said things like “Nerf-herder” and “I love you, I know”. See what treasures you can find!
Cook Dinner at Home
Throw on an apron over your date night finery, and enjoy cooking a meal together. It can be something simple like spaghetti or macaroni and cheese, or something fancy like ratatouille. Set the table with your best table linens and china, and enjoy a beautiful, fancy meal without the hassle of securing a reservation. Or, instead of having a date, make dinner for friends! We have really enjoyed cooking for friends in our home instead of going out to a fast food restaurant.
Oreos and Milk
This is our favorite Valentine’s Day tradition, one that we started in college when Luke showed up at my dorm with a package of Oreos and a gallon of milk. We like to watch a movie while dipping our Oreos in milk, or sometimes just sit and talk while we try not to eat the entire package. It’s simple, economical Here’s a tip- if you like dunking your Oreos like we do, stick a fork in the filling. This allows you to submerge the entire cookie while keeping your fingers clean.
As we approach our seventh Valentine’s Day together, we’re looking forward to celebrating in our own way that doesn’t break the bank. What are your Valentine’s Day traditions, and how are you planning to celebrate (or not celebrate) this year?