Plenty of people love Valentines Day! I am not against it. But it’s never worked for me, so I made a decision to stop celebrating it and make some alternate tweaks to my lifestyle.

Regardless of my relationship status, I’ve always found Valentines Day to be a flat holiday. In middle and high schools, when carnations would be delivered classroom to classroom, I’ll admit, I desperately wanted to receive a flower from the cute boy I happened to be pining for that month. And I never received one. (Insert maudlin violins.) Those girls who had themselves a beau would walk around, looking pleased at their bouquets. And the rest of us would play our Smiths cassettes and say we really didn’t care anyway.

Later in life, when I was finally the beneficiary of those flowers and chocolates, I didn’t get the expected elation. It was more of a “well that was nice,” feeling followed by, “huh.”

So having been on both sides of the fence, I realized that Valentine’s Day just didn’t work for me. And I don’t think I’m alone.

Fast-forward to life with my husband. We met in our thirties and married a couple of years later. And in the beginning, we celebrated Valentine’s Day with chocolates and such. (Well, except for our first Valentines Day, which we smartly skipped as we had only met the day before. It would have been weird, you gotta admit.) In those early years, the big day came during the workweek, and with our intense jobs and his long commute, we were pretty wiped by the time dinner came.

One day — and I don’t recall how the conversation went; it may have been an ongoing talk — we decided that we just didn’t care about February 14. Wouldn’t it be more fun, we thought, to skip it entirely, and then pick a separate date in the year to surprise the other person? So we did that for a while and it was fun! We’d each pick one random day and shower the other with lovely things and deeds! But as the years went on, planning an entire day seemed equally overwhelming. So we don’t even do that anymore.

Are we a couple of lazy, unromantic lame-os? Not at all! What it’s naturally morphed into is an awareness to do small nice things for the other person all year. One day last November, he showed up in my classroom with a huge vase of flowers. It was so unexpected! And I was smiling for the rest of the day. One year, he found a record he knew I cherished from my childhood and bought it for me. Another time, he surprised me with tickets to see k.d. lang sing. (GREAT concert.) He’ll sometimes get me little treats from the grocery store. And I try to reciprocate, but I’ll admit he’s a bit better at it.

It’s such a thrill being surprised on an ordinary day. You really feel the love and GOOD SURPRISES ROCK! We need more of them in our lives!

If this sound like something you might want to try, here are some ideas on how to treat your special someone throughout the year.

  1. Buy or make a card and set it out for them to discover. Even better, mail it to them, even if you live together! There’s something unequal to getting a love note in the mail. (OR — hey how ’bout this? — buy Valentines treats/stickers/cards AFTER Valentine’s Day when they’re super cheap and give them to your beau/belle for the rest of the year.)
  2. Send a quick text telling that person something you love about them or to share a funny memory.
  3. Call a radio station and dedicate a song to them. (Just make sure they listen.)
  4. Buy their favorite treat and announce that you have a surprise. Having someone say, “Close your eyes and hold out your hands!” just doesn’t get old. This can be super simple. Just a package of microwave popcorn can be a treat.
  5. Buy tickets to a movie or a show you know they’d love. I did this years ago and didn’t reveal what it was until we were outside the theater. Super fun for both of us!
  6. Buy them a mp3 of a significant song and text it to them.
  7. Stop by their work and bring them something fun. I did this at Ry’s work by bringing our two pups by for a visit.
  8. Slow dance. There is nothing quite as romantic as having someone put on a slow song and ask you to dance in your living room. I highly recommend Nat King Cole.
  9. Give them “that look.”
  10. Do that chore that they always do. (For me it’s making the bed. I’m terrible about doing that.)
  11. Go fetch them their favorite tea or coffee.
  12. Pack some food and go on a half-day or full-day road trip! My Mom used to do this to me. At each intersection we’d each take turns choosing a direction to go. One year, we ended up in Buzzards Bay! For the full effect, turn off your iphone/GPS.
  13. Go to a carnival together. RIDE THE FERRIS WHEEL.
  14. Offer to get take-out when you know they will be tired. This, to me, is one of THE most romantic gestures.
  15. Make them their favorite drink when they get home from work. Hubby’s done that for me many times and it’s always so nice! Buy some of those cocktail umbrellas (you can buy a huge box of them for only a few bucks) and make it super fancy/retro.
  16. Listen to what they say and take notes. Example: hubby always said he loved Edgar Allen Poe, so I kept my eyes peeled for months for an old copy of one of his works. I saw a beautiful paperback only for only $1.25 in our local used bookstore and surprised him with it! (see below; ain’t it a beauty?)
  17. Get them a breakfast surprise. Ry bought me a thing of Trader Joe’s cinnamon rolls (that come in the pop-package, and yep! they’re vegan!) and it was such a luxurious breakfast! I  sometimes surprise him with Captain Crunch, his favorite childhood cereal.
  18. Or announce that you’re taking them out to breakfast.  There’s something thrilling about being taken out for breakfast. 

The more you do this, the more fun it gets! And the pressure is totally off because it’s always unexpected. And aren’t unexpected treats more fun, somehow?

Again, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. If you love it, enjoy it and live it up! If you don’t, know that there are many ways to show your crush you care. Get creative and have fun!