As a young girl I loved Valentine’s Day. My sixth-grade self would get all twitterpated thinking about dropping that old-school valentine’s card onto the desk of the boy I had a crush on. (In those days, everyone in class was instructed to bring a valentine for everyone else in the class, so no one was left out.) I would spend hours pouring over my pack of Peanuts or Strawberry Shortcake or Scooby Doo cards to find just the right one that contained the subtext I was trying to convey – convinced that my secret crush would read between the lines and understand my feelings for him. I was well-aware it was only a school-girl crush, but I dreamed of the day the feelings I had for my sixth-grade Romeo would translate to a real adult romance. (What I didn’t know then that I do now is that boys are never good at reading subtext, whether they’re 10 or 40.)
As an adult, I have yet to experience the kind of Valentine’s Day I envisioned in my school-girl dreams. I have not given up hope that it might still happen. But in the meantime, I have perfected many fail-safe tactics to navigate what many call Singles Awareness Day (or S.A.D. for short). Instead of lamenting the fact that I usually spend this Hallmark holiday without a handsome man by my side, I use it to celebrate the amazing life I have created for myself. In short, I am my own valentine. Malinda, my partner in crime in this SGG adventure, is recently single. So we compared notes and came up with this list of 20 strategies to enjoy this Valentine’s Day, not dread it. (Full disclosure – most of these ideas are Malinda’s. She’s amazing that way.)
So, instead of attempting to burn down the Valentine aisle at the local Walmart, why not try one of these 20 activities, guaranteed to make you feel glad, not S.A.D.
1: Host a Galentine’s party. Fans of Parks and Recreation will know what that is. For the others, here’s a video that explains it all. Essentially, it’s a day for girls to celebrate friends. Traditionally (can something so new be called a tradition?) it’s held on February 13. But I contend that it can be held any day.
2: Pamper yourself with mani/pedi or a day at the spa. This could be pricey, depending on where you go – but an investment in ourselves is always worth it.
3: If finding a relationship is a high priority for you, use the day to make a plan of action. Research dating websites to find one that fits you and write a compelling profile. Find clubs and organizations for things about which you are passionate (hiking? animal rescue? beach clean-up? etc.), and join them. Many relationships start with a shared activity. And if you don’t find your Mr. Right, it is likely you’ll make some cool new friends – and that is always a good thing.
4: Do a little research on St. Valentine. Yes, he was a real guy, and did some cool stuff.
5: Go old school and send your friends fun valentines… either the cute kid ones or bust out the construction paper and glitter.
6: Read Jane Austen, or other satirical romance writer who pokes fun at the male/female dynamic, and the inevitable ridiculousness that is inherent in any relationship – regardless of the century. If you’re not a reader, consider renting a movie. There are a lot of great films based on classic novels, and well worth the time and investment.
7: Bake! Then share with friends, family, & neighbors. Nothing says “I care about you” quite like a plate of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.
8: Treat yourself to a very nice bottle of wine, and some high-end chocolate. Hey – the news is full of reports about the health benefits of wine and dark chocolate, so consider this is a win-win.
9: Write a love letter- a sincere note to someone you care about that is so thoughtful it will make them cry.
10: Design a valentine themed act of kindness, and then do it on the 14th. It could be donating to a women’s shelter, or picking up the tab of the person behind you in the Starbucks drive-thru, or anything else you can think of.
11: Surprise anyone you encounter on the 14th with a valentine treat of some sort. (Hint: save the home-baked goodies for people you know. For strangers, try something non-edible or store-bought. Dollar stores are great places to find these treasures.)
12: Send a valentine package to a kid in your life, even if they live just down the street. Sparkly heart stickers or a new book are an awesome surprise for a kid – plus it’s great to get fun mail and it makes a kid feel special.
13: Buy yourself fresh flowers. Having fresh flowers is cheerful, brightens any room, and they smell amazing.
14: If you want to avoid S.A.D., turn on loud music and clean the house. Channel the inner valentines rage, then feel great when your house is clean. #therapeutic
15: Leave the country to avoid the nonsense. Bonus: you will avoid more than valentine nonsense. #ifyouknowwhatimean
16: Deliver valentines to a nursing home, or find out if you can take craft supplies and make them with residents.
17: Read a valentine themed book to kids at the library. (This one takes advanced prep, because you have to sign up and sometimes be interviewed.)
18: Show love to the earth… pick up litter, recycle, make valentine-y canvas bags, be an activist for an environmental cause, etc.
19: Show love to people in need and donate to your favorite charity with a valentines note.
20: Indulge in a bubble bath, a good book, some candles, and a pizza. Because when you’re single on Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t matter if you have garlic breath.
Bonus 21: Partner with a veteran’s organization and send old-school Valentine’s cards to military members serving overseas. This has to be done weeks in advance in order for them to arrive on time, but you get the warm-fuzzy feeling of knowing that someone thousands of miles from home is reading your card and probably smiling.
Here’s the deal: even if we don’t have a significant other in our lives, most of us are surrounded by more love than we realize. Friends, family, and even pets, are a tremendous source of unconditional love. So use this day to celebrate that love and share it with others. There can never be too much love in this world.