Take it from a female – Valentine’s Day means more to us ladies than you imagine. Don’t be fooled when she agrees with you that it’s commercial and overrated. Odds are, one of her friends will be crowing about the HUGE romantic gesture her partner made and your girl will be left feeling undervalued and under-appreciated by your total lack of effort.
I know, I know. You loathe Valentine’s Day and everything it represents. But 14th February is the one day of the year when she’ll resent you, rather than respect you, for those principles of yours. Fear not. You don’t have to go to extremes to get it right. Here are some simple, easy ways to show her you care and avoid that unnecessary Valentine’s argument.
What is Valentine’s Day anyway?
There’s much debate about the origins of Valentine’s Day. Some people claim the February love-in derives from the lusty Roman festival of Lupercalia, when goats (symbols of fertility) were sacrificed, drunken men pranced about the streets naked, and women volunteered to be hit with bits of goat skin, believing it would help them get pregnant. Others believe mid-February coincided with the first day of spring, when birds of a feather would mate.
And no one can agree on just who St Valentine was, either. There are at least three contenders with that name in saintly legend. Not one of them was known for buying last-minute flowers from the petrol station.
The first extant reference to Valentine’s Day as the romantic date of the year, can be found in a poem you’ve probably never heard of by saucy 14th-century bard Chaucer. But whatever its origins, you can take some comfort from the fact that men have been suffering every 14th February for at least the last six hundred years.
What not to do on Valentine’s Day
Before we get into the “dos” of Valentine’s Day, let’s warm up with some “don’ts”.
Don’t forget. Please, please, please don’t forget. Your brain might be capable of blocking out all the references to Valentine’s Day that are currently absolutely everywhere, but hers isn’t.
She sees the Valentine’s aisle at the supermarket. She notices that every shop window has been dressed up with red love hearts for the occasion. And all those ads for diamonds, perfume, chocolates, whatever, that are saturating prime-time commercial breaks right now are literally seeping into her consciousness, whether she likes it or not.
So please don’t forget Valentine’s Day. Because you can be sure she won’t.
Don’t try to be original
Valentine’s Day is no time to try out an ‘original’ gift. Now is not the time to buy her anything practical, for instance an ironing board, vacuum cleaner, windscreen de-icer or hot water bottle.
Now is not the time to buy her a novelty gift, such as edible knickers, or a cuddly toy that says: i wub u ♡.
Nor is it the right time to buy anything clothing-related because – whether it’s too small (thereby making her feel fat), too big (intimating you think she’s fatter than she is), or just the right size (demonstrating that you know exactly how much she currently weighs post-Christmas) – she’ll hate it.
Five ways to nail Valentine’s Day
If you do each of the following five simple things, in this order, you can be sure of a stress-free, guilt-free and, dare I say it, enjoyable Valentine’s Day.
1. Plan it
Start planning your Valentine’s Day right now. This year Valentine’s Day falls on a Wednesday. Chances are you’re both going to be working. Take five minutes to consider what your Valentine’s Day is actually going to look like.
Will you be together Valentine’s morning? If you will, you don’t need to worry about posting her card and gift in time. If you work nights, can you get the evening off? If you live miles apart, can you arrange to spend the weekend before together? (Celebrating early is ALWAYS better than celebrating late).
2. The card
A good Valentine’s card is the absolute minimum you should give your girl. A text message won’t suffice. Nor will an e-card. She requires a good, old-fashioned Valentine’s card. Don’t leave it ‘til the last minute, when all that’s left in the shops is the chintz and the cheese. Go and buy one right now.
Next, plan what you’re going to write before you write it. Will you tell her why you love her? Or why she is the only one for you? Now write it.
Last, plan how you’re going to deliver your romantic masterpiece. Do you need to post it? If you’re going to be together, how can you make receiving your card a surprise? Will you leave it on her pillow? Will you place it on her breakfast tray?
A word of warning. Women don’t tend to find that old ‘I’m going to make you think I’ve forgotten for a while and then surprise you once you’ve given up all hope’ gag very funny. Give her the card ASAP on the day.
3. Breakfast in bed
Yes, it’ll be a Wednesday morning. Yes, you’ll be hard pushed to make and deliver breakfast in bed to your lady, and still get yourself to work on time. But that’s the point. The thought and planning that go into a midweek, Valentine’s breakfast in bed will knock her for six.
Don’t make it too difficult for yourself. Get some croissants the night before and simply warm them in the oven when you wake up. Or make her a posh breakfast cup with soft fruits, Greek yoghurt, chopped nuts and honey layered in a wine glass. Add fresh coffee and hand-squeezed orange juice and you’ve nailed it. One happy lady.
Unless your darling suffers from chronic hayfever or anthophobia (it means fear of flowers and, if she has it, you’d know about it by now), flowers are another non-negotiable.
No, flowers from the petrol station won’t do. To be honest, you won’t get away with supermarket flowers either. You’ve still got plenty of time to find a real florist. It will make the world of difference and you won’t have to spend a fortune. Tell them your budget and give a quick description of your valentine. Is she strong and bold, or calm and thoughtful? Trust them to create a beautiful bouquet that’s perfect for her.
If you want to go down the trad route of buying roses, again, get them from a proper florist. They’ll look 100 times better than the pre-wrapped ones wilting in the supermarket after seven weeks’ cold storage in a depot somewhere near Didcot.
Back to planning again. Do you need to have them delivered? If so, will she even be home Wednesday morning or should you send them to her office instead? If you intend to hand-deliver them, when are you going to pick them up? If this all sounds too much like hard work, remember: A decent bunch of flowers will save you the trouble of having to buy a Valentine’s gift. She’ll be so happy with them (and the thoughtful card/breakfast-in-bed combo) that you won’t need to fret over choosing perfume/jewellery/chocolates.
Florist. Find one.
5. Date night
Last, but not least, get Valentine’s evening right, and your lady will be blown away. Don’t worry about taking her to a fancy restaurant. Chances are the best ones will be booked up already anyway. And even if you could get a table, Valentine’s meals out are notoriously disappointing: Too many couples crammed into the dining room cheek to jowl; a ‘special’ menu that costs the earth and tastes dismal; grumpy staff; and all the cliches you hate (pushy man selling single red roses, heart-shaped menus, Barry Manilow crooning through the speakers).
A better idea is to have a romantic meal for two at home. If you can cook, make her something special. If you can’t, order in a takeaway. Either way, dress the table with candles and flowers, (hide the cartons), use the best china and get some good wine in.
After dinner, snuggle up on the sofa and watch her favourite romantic film together. Don’t know what that is? You’ve still got time to subtly question her about it. Or, if all else fails, pick a classic, like Dirty Dancing or When Harry Met Sally to get you both in the mood for romance.
And that’s it. The perfect February 14th. Five simple steps to make sure this Valentine’s Day is your most successful yet.