Yep, it’s true. Valentine’s Day is my absolute favorite of the year. More than Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Easter combined. Men I’ve dated in the past were informed upfront so they had all the facts before deciding whether to proceed into a relationship with me. I’d like to think I’m low maintenance in most areas, but not in this one. I have high expectations for Valentine’s Day, and if Peter Welty in my second grade class hadn’t given me his mother’s diamond bracelet at our class V-Day party, perhaps things would be different. He started my love affair with the day of all things romance, and it didn’t even matter that my Mom made me return the bracelet he’d stolen from his mom’s jewelry box. It was the thought that counted.
So, for all of you romance-challenged ladies and gentlemen out there, I have a few easy suggestions for making a holiday that most people despise one of enjoyment.
1. Don’t treat the holiday like it doesn’t exist. It does. If you aren’t with a special someone, who cares? Grab your best friend of the opposite sex or your group of homies and make a date of it. Celebrate love of all kinds-friendship, family, even pet love. Have a mojito and burrito party. Grab delicious gelatto at Pacuigo. Or, go see a funny romantic comedy like “Just Go With It“. Love being with the people who make you smile.
2. If you DO have a special someone, dinner reservations at a romantic place are a must. I like “experience” restaurants, like Simply Fondue, but a cozy booth at Al Biernet’s or champagne bar evening at Hotel St. Germain are great choices. If funds are low, a pie for two at Eno’s in Bishop Arts, followed by cupcakes from Cretia’s are a cost-effective evening. You can stroll through the arts district and pass by beautiful art galleries and whimsical shops. Very romantic! If you aren’t foodies, a non-traditional idea is to take a class together and learn a new skill. On my wish-list is to take an art lesson together at A Little Artsy. What better gift than to take home art you created together to hang on your wall?
3. Ah, presents. Valentine’s Day can be more tricky for women than for men. What do you get a man for Valentine’s Day? A thoughtful card, perhaps a DVD from his wishlist for the two of you to cuddle on the couch and watch together, or a bottle of his signature cologne. If he’s a reader, a new book for his Kindle or a sleek new case for his iPad are also lovely, practical gifts. Gourmet chocolates, like the ones made by NIB, are also a sweet local treat. (Shameless plug for my dear friend and chocolatier, Stephen Smith.)
For the ladies, guys can never go wrong with sending a beautiful bouquet of flowers to her office, a hand-written love letter, or if you’re that serious, jewelry is widely accepted. I suggest picking up a lovely sheet of stationary from The Paperie in Mockingbird Station, Dr. Delphinium for the florals, DeBoulle’s for the jewels.
4. Lastly, don’t forget that the spirit of this holiday is to let the people around you know that they are special to you. Remember decorating your shoe box in school for classmates to drop Valentine’s cards into? I couldn’t wait to open my box and read all the sweet things people wrote and see the fun cartoons on the cards. Some even got creative and glued conversation hearts on them! You’re never too old to keep this tradition alive. Slip a silly Valentine into the mailbox for your mail carrier, or drop one in the mail for your grandparents. Buy a small box of chocolates for your single friend who is going through a tough time. I once had a thoughtful neighbor (thank you, Raul,) who would leave a box of Godiva chocolates outside my door every Valentine’s Day with a nice note. It always cheered me up to know someone was thinking of me.
So, for all you haters of my favorite holiday, just know that it is so much more than romantic trysts and expensive gifts. It’s about taking one day and putting special focus on loving the ones you’re with, and letting them love you back.
Hilary Kennedy is a contributing author for YouPlusDallas focusing primarily on Style, Arts and Entertainment, and Dating and Relationships. Hilary also stars in many videos for YouPlusDallas and has her own show, The Hilary Kennedy Show.