Eight Gratifying Ways to Celebrate—No Date Necessary!
Look into the origins of Valentine’s Day and one adjective seems to pop up over and over—“murky.” Meaning, of course, that no one knows for sure where or how or why it started, although there are several possibilities. So before we dive into what to do, let’s look at how it may have started.
- The ancient Romans practiced a fertility rite around this time of year. It included practices both creepy and disgusting. Since one of the rituals included pairing people up, you can kind of see the connection to love and romance.
- A Christian priest, named Valentine (duh!), was martyred on February 14 for marrying soldiers to their lady loves in defiance of a law that fighting men must remain single. Again, the romantic theme is evident.
- Alternatively, this same priest, or a different one also named Valentine, was murdered for a different type of love: helping Christians escape the horrors of Roman dungeons. The non-Christian authorities were unappreciative.
- One of these Valentines, while imprisoned himself for acting out of love, had a relationship with his jailer’s daughter. Whether said relationship was platonic or romantic is unclear. He may have healed her. He may have written her a note signed, “Your Valentine.”
Whatever its origin, people in the United States and elsewhere focus on romance during this time of year.
I prefer a different approach.
Day of Love and Friendship
I have some wonderful friends in Mexico who are practically family. When I first started visiting them with my church decades ago, one February, I noticed that they don’t call it “St. Valentine’s Day.” Instead, they call it “the Day of Love and Friendship.”
What a great idea! Instead of:
- focusing on a significant other,
- feeling like you have to scramble to find a date
- thinking you can’t break up with your SO till after the date,
- feeling down because you don’t have an SO or because you do and s/he doesn’t get into the holiday,
focus on ALL the people who are special to you!
Don’t get me wrong; now that I’m married to the best husband a girl could ever wish for, I enjoy romantic outings (especially since he’s so good at planning them). Still, during my many long years as a single, I learned to appreciate the love I shared in many different types of relationships.
Eight Ways to Celebrate Without a Date
So if you find yourself without a date this Valentine’s, TAKE HEART! There are many ways you can celebrate. Here are some suggestions.
1. Galentine’s or Pal-entine’s
Who says wine and chocolate are the exclusive domain of couples?
Galentine’s parties have become popular for the last few years, where women get together to celebrate their friendship. You can do a brunch or dinner dressed to the nines with flowers and favors to remind yourself that friendship is worth celebrating, too!
If you’re a guy, throw a boys-only party. Dress up and go to a Brazilian Steak House or your favorite barbecue place. Or, cook out at home with your closest guy friends and plan an activity you all enjoy: board or video games, the latest action movie, watching the sports event of your choice, etc.
2. Friends’ Double or Triple Date
You can invite enough friends of either sex ahead of time so that each person is paired with someone else, i.e., your group is an even number. With enough advance planning, you can even plan to exchange cards, flowers, and/or small gifts with whomever you’re paired with.
With your group, make reservations at a fancy restaurant, buy movie tickets together, or find a singles ball in your area to attend. (Large churches and other organizations sometimes throw Valentine’s singles dances that are open to any single.)
3. Party for Friends
This is similar to the first two suggestions. However, instead of making the party the exclusive domain of one gender or the other, or having a “date” feel, invite a mixed group of any number of friends to hang out.
What to do? There are companies that do in-home wine tastings. You can do a white elephant exchange or craft cards and favors for each other. Or you can take turns telling good memories of each other.
4. Family Fun
Valentine’s is a great day to focus on how much you love your family. With your immediate or extended family, use some of the suggestions for previous parties to find meaningful ways to show your appreciation for each family member.
5. Secret Valentine
With any of the groups mentioned above, if you plan ahead, you can do a Secret Valentine. Each participant randomly draws the name of another participant. Then, you can give your Valentine a little gift or note each day leading up to the holiday or do a gift exchange on the day of.
6. Cards, Phone Calls, or Visit
It can be easy to feel down on Valentine’s Day. Still, science has shown that being there for others can be as rewarding to your brain as sex or your favorite food.
With that in mind, if you don’t want to “go out” or don’t have time to plan something, you can send cards. Let the people who you care about in your life know.
Or pick up the phone and give them a call. Better still, pay them a surprise visit with some chocolate or flowers! Take the time not only to talk but to really listen to them. A lot of time and empathy go a long way! (This is a great suggestion for the elderly in your life or others who may live alone.)
A rewarding way to combine the last couple of suggestions is to put together little “Valentine-grams”—candy, cookies, flowers plus a card—and plan a route to the houses of different family members or friends. Plan to spend a quick five minutes at each place to ring the doorbell and surprise them.
You may need to check with people ahead of time with a quick phone call or text: “Are you going to be home at ________? Just wanted to stop by and drop off something.”
Remember, Valentine’s is not an official holiday and it often falls on a weekday. Thus, many people who go out to celebrate usually pick the closest weekend. You’ll need to feel out which day is best to make your round.
8. “Treat Yo’self”
Remember Donna and Tom from Parks and Recreation? They would pick a day—I assume they saved up for it—and spend it indulging themselves on any luxurious item or activity they wanted. Now, I often preach that self-love is NOT self-indulgence, but Valentine’s is a day where those two concepts can align.
In other words, if you’re single and don’t get together with others on Valentine’s Day, you don’t have to go about your normal routine, either.
Buy or put together your own little charcuterie board and head to that wine bar you’ve been wanting to check out. Or hit up that new cupcake place. Buy flowers for yourself. Book a massage. Do like Patrick Mahomes in the State Farm commercial and take a jazz bath, bath bombs and all. Attend one of those singles dances I mentioned on your own.
Whatever special place or activity has caught your attention, make a deliberate plan to “treat yo’self.”
Valentine’s Day is also the Day of Love and Friendship. That can be about celebrating your romantic partner, but it can be about so many other things, too! There are people in our lives who’ve raised us, let us cry on their shoulders, checked in on us when we haven’t felt our best, given us joy in so many ways. And of course, there’s your relationship with yourself.
Valentine’s Day is a great time to celebrate those relationships, too.