The pressure ladled onto February 14 cannot be underestimated. Flick through any women's glossy, and it's easy to convince yourself that the strength of your relationship, your future and the existence of humanity rests entirely, absolutely and totally on what you do as a couple on Valentine's Day.
Sure, she might play it down in the day and weeks preceding February 14, she might say it's just another day and that Valentine's Day lost its true meaning thanks to all the commercial hype. She probably means it when she says it. But come February 14, when colleagues and friends are bragging about their evening plans, jetting off to Paris, and the mammoth bunch of roses that has just landed on their desk, doing nothing just isn't an option.
As a couple you both might acknowledge that Valentine's Day is completely pointless, but with all the expectation and manufactured romance, it's hard not to get sucked in just a little. Here are our top tips for making it a day to remember — for all the right reasons.
DO... Get personal
Despite what the stores would have you believe, there isn’t a fail-safe template for a great Valentine’s Day, and to be honest, leaning too heavily on the traditional red roses, chocolates and a chick flick is at best unimaginative and at worst pretty insulting. A much better starting point is to think about the person you’re celebrating Valentine’s with. If she has an extensive collection of heavy metal vinyl, the latest Michael Buble album – however forcefully the shops are pushing it – just won’t make the grade. People don’t undergo personality lobotomies just because the calendar says February 14, so keep it individual and think about what really interests her.
DON’T... Got out for dinner
On any other day of the year, restaurants are pleasant, sociable places that (hopefully) serve up decent meals. But on Valentine’s Day the atmosphere changes to something evocative of prison visiting hours. Couples are lined up opposite one another, acutely feeling the pressure to behave romantically but more often than not end up looking incredibly awkward. Enter these romantic black holes at your own peril.
DO... Send a gift to work
Yes it’s cheesy, and she’ll probably claim it’s embarrassing, but secretly she will love receiving a gift in front of her colleagues. A bunch of flowers is always a winner – and steer clear of M.O.R. red roses if you want to give it some extra pizzazz. Or, why not rock up to her office at lunchtime and whisk her off for an impromptu Valentine’s picnic?
DON’T... Do the same thing you did last year
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? Not when it comes to V-Day. Skydiving might have been fun last year, but no one wants to get into a Valentine’s skydiving rut. Even if last year’s plan worked a charm, your partner will appreciate something different this time around.
DO...Make a homemade Valentine’s card
Bought cards are fine, but they’ll always be trumped by homemade efforts, even if your crafting skills are akin to a small child. Simply track down some scissors, cut a red card heart, and voila, you’re pretty much there. Your own little verse, however silly and clumsy, adds a nice touch.
DON’T... Buy kitchen appliances, or lingerie for that matter
Just not cool. Anything practical is a complete turn-off. Valentine's Day should be about a touch of extravagance, and a new kitchen blender – even if it is the <em>exact</em> model that Nigella uses – is not OK. The gift of lingerie brings to mind the episode of the <em>Simpsons</em> when Homer buys Marge a bowling ball with his name inscribed on it for her birthday.
DO... Cook for her
As previously discussed, restaurant dining can be a total nightmare on Valentine’s Day. Breakfast in bed, or cooking a romantic dinner for two can be fun and shows that you’re going the extra mile. It’ll also free up a little cash for those extra finishing touches.
The worst thing you can is forget all about it. Set a reminder in your calendar, tattoo the date on your forehead if necessary, just don’t let it slip your mind.