Busted Halo
feature: sex & relationships
February 10th, 2009

5 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day without Bling or Booty

Recession friendly ideas for love without money


5ways-insideMy boyfriend’s birthday is on February 14, so for the last few years Valentine’s Day has been much more about celebrating his birthday than anything else. Whether single or dating, I always thought Valentine’s Day was an expensive Hallmark-brand hassle, so I thought this was a wonderful solution to my problem.

So when we were discussing what to do for this Valentine’s, and he suggested that we go to a show he’d wanted to see, I was happy. That is, I was happy until he said, “Great, since you already got me a gift, I’ll buy the tickets and that can be your gift,” to which I suddenly snapped “Are you seriously going to cheap out and get me something you want for my Valentine’s Day gift?!”

This reaction upset him, but more than that, it shocked me. Since when did I: 1) care about Valentine’s Day at all, and 2) become so materialistic that I insist on gifts to prove someone’s feelings? This little episode helped me realize that, especially in today’s tough economic times, all of us might want to reevaluate Valentine’s Day preconceptions and focus more on what this “holiday” is supposed to be about: Love.

Now, you could argue that because the theological basis is weak, and Valentine’s Day love celebrations really only began in the context of medieval courtly love, Valentine’s Day should be about consumerism — bribing our loved ones by spending way too much money on bad prix fixe dinners and trashy lingerie.

But just because Valentine’s Day is traditionally one of the more tawdry holidays, that doesn’t meant that we can’t redefine it and genuinely celebrate the relationships and love we share, whether or not we have a significant other. So, I asked some of my friends for suggestions of ways to celebrate the relationships in our lives — without spending too much money, or turning to the trashy — and they came up with five great ideas that will make any Valentine’s Day wonderful.

  1. Make some memories. Whether you’re an artist, singer, writer, photographer or none of the above, you can still make a memorable gift that’s better than a mass-produced heart-shaped box of chocolates. Try to think of something that reminds you of your loved one, or that you know they care about, and find a way to create something based on that — be it a song, cheesy love poem, picture, or anything else you can imagine. My friend Erin (22) explains, “The best gift I was ever given was a picture collage my boyfriend made of the two of us. It was funny, and kind of looked like a 6th grade art project, but it brought back all sorts of wonderful memories.” If you think you don’t have the artistic prowess to make something, turn craftiness into a Valentine’s Day activity and enlist the help of your loved one. Plan a photo shoot, then print out the photos and scrapbook your Valentine’s Day memories together.
  2. Enjoy the great outdoors. No matter where you live, if it’s cold or warm, going out in nature is a great way to get closer to those you love ( especially if it’s cold.) Going for a long walk or just relaxing or playing outdoors is something we don’t have time to do most days, with our busy work schedules. So set Valentine’s Day aside as a day to enjoy both love and nature. My friend Matt (25) suggests, “One of my best dates was going out late-night sledding on Valentine’s Day. It was romantic and cheap, and it was fun to act like we were ten.”
  3. Get cookin’. Amanda (24) said one of her favorite Valentine’s Days was when her boyfriend decided to cook dinner for the two of them: “It was way more special that he took the time to buy ingredients and make my favorite meal, rather than going out to a noisy restaurant and sitting cramped next to everyone else who was trying to make their Valentine’s Day ‘special.'” If you don’t have much faith in your cooking abilities, pick out a recipe online, buy the ingredients and cook together. That way you have two sets of eyes making sure the spaghetti doesn’t burn.
  4. Go back to you roots. Tim (23) thinks “the best thing to do on a stupid Hallmark holiday is to be stupid back.” He suggests watching cartoons from when you were young, or playing board games, or doing other childhood activities: “Use this manufactured holiday as an excuse to be silly and have fun; we don’t get to do that enough now that we’re all grown up.” My personal suggestion for fun-childhood Valentine’s Day viewing is old episodes of Fraggle Rock which you can find (at least in segments) on YouTube, but no matter what your cartoon or board game of choice, taking time to have fun with those you care about is a great way to show someone you love them.
  5. Take time to talk. Sometimes we spend so much time doing stuff that we don’t ever actually talk to people. One of the greatest things about any relationship is that there is always something new you can find out about someone — if you ask the right questions. So turn off the TV and computer, sit down with a cup of hot chocolate (or coffee or tea) and take time to get reacquainted. If you’re afraid of too much awkward silence, my friend Sakura suggests pretending that you’re prepping for the dating game: “Make sure you know the answers to all of the ridiculous questions that they ask on those relationship games, like ‘What’s your significant other’s favorite animal,” or other stupid stuff like that.” Talking is one of the frequently overlooked things that is key to making any relationship — romantic or not — last.

So resist the easy way out of big spending and cheap sexy solutions, and instead make Valentine’s Day about enjoying the company of your loved ones. It will make your relationships stronger, and your Valentine’s days memorable.

Originally published on February 10, 2009.

The Author : Brittany Janis
Brittany Janis, 25, is Busted Halo's development director.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Jennifer M.

    Okay, since St. Valentine was obviously a proponent of marriage, and the origin of Valentine’s Day is all about marriage, if one is married, what could be wrong with celebrating Valentine’s Day with some “booty?” Marital lovemaking is all about the couple renewing their sacrament with one another, so I don’t see why it needs to be painted as something second-class when it comes to expressing love. Outsiders accuse Catholicism of being anti-sex, which it definitely is not, but posts like this sure encourage that view.

  • cathyf

    The hubby and I are trekking to our cathedral for the annual blessing of marriage mass, and then we are going out for a little dinner date somewhere frugal. (Hopefully no golden arches involved, but it will be fine if there are…)

  • Sarah

    Try getting back to the CATHOLIC root of St. (yes, people it is a saint’s feast day) Valentine’s Day. St. Valentine was a priest who married solidiers to their girlfriends (which at the time was against the law where he lived….the current man in power thought having a wife and family would distract his men from their duties….so they were not allowed to marry). St. Valentine married these people anyway. So why not turn the feast of St. Valentine into a reminder of the importance of the Sacrament of Marriage. Say some prayers for this important sacrament espically in this day and age where it is under so much pressure from te secular world.

  • Raffaele

    I think that Gabriele’s mention of donating blood will get other people thinking about it. Don’t worry about your anemia. If you still need to donate, you could always give to a local food pantry…

  • Gabrielƒó

    I have a Valentine’s Day tradition: I donate blood on Valentine’s Day. If I have a boyfriend at the time, I bring him along. My philosophy is that since commercial traditions of the Valentine’s Day concentrate so much on different body parts (hearts and those other), why not REALLY “love thy neighbour” in body parts that they need. Whenever I tell someone about this, everyone likes the idea and decides to do it themselves (or at least they say so), so hopefully I could spread it. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do it this year because of anemia, I don’t yet know what to do about it…

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