image by Albert Palmer Photography via flickr
Valentine's Day has held a special place for me since the first time I received a red construction paper card from my elementary school crush, and it's become even more meaningful now that I get to spend it with my forever Valentine, my husband. But lately, every time I read a Valentine's themed blog post, I immediately start to stress about how to celebrate. What if I don't want to make complicated Pinterest crafts? And what if I don't have time to put together the perfect pink "Galentine's" Day party for my girlfriends? Or what if my husband and I can't get a reservation at the hottest restaurant in town? Will our holiday be ruined?
Amidst my panic, I realized that there are many ways to partake in this day and stay relaxed. Here is my list of 5 fun and easy ways to celebrate Valentine's Day with your family, friends, and fiancé WITHOUT busting out a glue gun or feeling inferior to all the Pin-worthy pictures you see online.
1. Send a Cheesy Valentine's Card to Someone Far Away
And no, it doesn't have to be of the $12 laser cut, shimmery foil variety. I'm talking about one from the red and pink aisle at your corner Walgreens. Spend a minute and pick the cheesiest, cutest card you can find and mail it to your bestie, college roommate, or soon-to-be in-laws (and bonus points for sending it from your pet's perspective!). The point is to bring a smile to someone's face, not to worry about impressing anyone. And if you're anything like me, you'll have just as much fun sending it as they will have receiving it.
2. Plan a Staycation With Your Betrothed
I had never done a staycation before last weekend, but let me tell you: I'm HOOKED. It was so fun (and surprisingly affordable) to book a hotel room at the last minute and pretend to be a tourist in our own town. My husband and I swam in the indoor pool, lunched on room service in our robes, people watched in the lobby, and we even got all dressed up to dine downstairs at the hotel's signature restaurant -- I'm talking blazer for him, cocktail dress for me. In fact, we didn't leave the hotel once during our stay! And it was absolutely delightful. No worries if you can't do it on Valentine's Day, just book it when the price and your schedules are right.
3. Bake a Family Favorite Recipe
Some of my favorite memories from childhood are of baking with my grandma, who is arguably the real life Betty Crocker. It didn't matter if we were making sugar cookies, peanut butter balls, or her completely-from-scratch Three Layer Chocolate Cake. Everything was delicious, and more importantly, we had fun together. So why not try to capture some of that childhood whimsy by baking something fun for a loved one? Call your family chef and ask for the recipe, and if they're local, maybe suggest the two of you do it together. I guarantee you won't feel any stress when you're wrist deep in something sweet (and memorable).
4. Learn to Mix a New Cocktail
Last summer, my husband and I decided we were going to start "Cocktail Wednesdays" where we'd learn to mix a new drink each week, hoping it would give us a Tom Cruise-worthy repertoire to pull from when we hosted dinner parties. We only did it once, and full disclosure, we accidentally drank too many to learn the actual recipes. But, it was a lot of fun and something you could easily challenge yourself with this Valentine's Day, whether you hang with your significant other or your friends. All you need to do is google your favorite spirit and find a drink that looks appealing, then pick up (or Instacart) the ingredients that day, and voila! A fun, festive, and EASY way to celebrate.
5. Forgo the Fancy Restaurant and Cook Something Fancy at Home Instead
This became a tradition for us back in college: although we couldn't afford to go to a nice restaurant, we were able to buy some decent steaks and a bottle of bubbly (which, I imagine was probably Barefoot if I'm completely honest, but hey, we were 21!). So to this day, for every Valentine's Day that my husband and I have spent together, we craft a challenging yet creative menu for the two of us and cook while sipping on something extra special (this bottle is quickly becoming our fave). Sometimes the meals are a hit and sometimes we drink a little too much bubbly to finish our multi-course menu plan. But we always have fun and eat well without the stress of trying to get a hot reservation someplace.