Valentine’s Day Survival Tips

Valentine’s Day is upon us again. The holiday invented by greeting card companies often feels like it appears out of nowhere. Here we are struggling to shake off the January blues and suddenly we’re being bombarded with hearts, roses and chocolates. Have we found The One yet? Does it suddenly seem, as Joni Mitchell sings, that “The bed’s too big / The frying pan’s too wide”? Should we just turn our phones off for the day? Well, here’s some survival tips for those of us who are still trying to navigate the most commercially vacuous of holidays. 

Disclaimer: Covid-19 means that some of this advice does not apply this year, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t good advice for the future!

One of the first things to let go of when trying to plan a successful Valentine’s Day is the idea that everything must be done on the 14th of February. If you are a few years into your relationship and it won’t be seen as a cheapskate slight, go shopping the day AFTER Valentine’s Day. Everything will be heavily discounted. One year I got 100 red roses for around £30, that’s 30p per rose!

For the ‘dinner and a movie’ classic date, consider that Glasgow Film Festival usually takes place in mid-February. One of my favourite Valentine’s memories is lying on a giant and unwieldy beanbag in the market hall of The Briggait in Glasgow watching When Harry Met Sally on a large, temporary screen with my then boyfriend, eating pizza. Look out for independent cinemas or arts venues offering one-off screenings of Nora Ephron movies or anything by Richard Curtis  – particularly the underappreciated and lovely About Time (which is also on Netflix at the moment). When booking a restaurant remember to ask if they have a Valentine’s Day menu, the day is stressful enough without worrying about what you’ll eat and there’s usually a romantic spin on the courses. Keep in mind though, if you don’t drink alcohol or have specific dietary requirements waiting staff are more likely to be overworked around Valentine’s Day and liable to make more mistakes – be clear about your needs and if you’re particularly worried avoid the day itself. 

If you’re stuck indoors (like we all are in 2021) you can recreate the ‘dinner and a movie’ experience at home. Cook from scratch with the help of a restaurant kit or meal box service. I’m a huge fan of Hello Fresh; their Creamy Linguine with King Prawns and Serrano Ham is exactly what I’m looking for in a Valentine’s Day dinner – light, pretty, slightly decadent and satisfyingly paired with a non-alcoholic sparkling rosé. 

This year’s Netflix offerings include To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Definitely Maybe, and 13 Going On 30 (which I watched for my 30 birthday during lockdown and is a very good ‘I’m single, but things are okay’ sort of film). It also has an impressive collection of LGBTQIA+ films, though they’re more likely to end in tragedy. If you can handle the heartbreak try Holding The Man. Amazon Prime has Sex And The City: The Movie (though I’m not sure I’d recommend it if you’ve ever been jilted), William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, The Princess Bride, and The Holiday (in case you missed watching it at Christmas), while iPlayer has Sliding Doors and Shakespeare in Love. If you feel like it you can spend the run time on an in-depth and justified feminist critique of the lazy stereotypes and worn-out tropes that many of these movies present, but there’s also something to be said for turning that part of your brain off for a couple of hours and snuggling up with your beau (or your phone) for a bit. 

It may all seem a bit silly, but Valentine’s Day provides us all with an opportunity to ‘check in’ with our significant other or our relationship with ourselves. So be a bit basic. If you’re single, have one of those baths where the foam is a foot high and the scented candles are close to being a fire hazard. If you’re in a relationship, put all your chores and worries aside (if you can) and just spend some time together. It’s not a bad thing that a lot of couples break up around Valentine’s Day – if you don’t want to spend even a few hours in each other’s company then maybe you are better off apart. Be as grateful as you can for the feelings the day raises in you, you now have a whole year to change your situation (or the way that you look at it). 

I know this year might feel a little different, but the idea that one day I might be able to go to a restaurant and watch a romantic comedy with someone I love is really keeping me going through this bleak, snowy month. 

And whatever you do, remember my first tip – it’s much more cost effective to buy your Valentine’s cards and gifts tomorrow!

Words: Ana Hine

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