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Valentine’s Day isn’t just for lovers

If you had told me ten years ago that I would be married by the time I was 22, I would have laughed in your face. But here I am at 25, happily married to my best friend for going on three years. It’s difficult for me to begin to fathom my life being any different than it is right now, even if my current life would have seemed so foreign to me just one decade ago.

I imagine that right about now, you are physically gagging and gearing up to click away from this website. Every February, it seems like mushy couples are strolling hand-in-hand with starry eyes, posting sentimental Facebook statuses and Instagram photos of chocolates, roses, and oversized stuffed bears.

For me, Valentine’s Day has always been an enjoyable holiday, regardless of whether I was going out on a date. In fact, as someone who didn’t date much throughout the years, I spent very few February 14 evenings with a significant other. I remember my 5-year old self, normally an anxiety-stricken perfectionist who hated to get messy, ignoring the paste flaking off my fingers and the markers staining my palms as I created the perfect cards. In middle and high school, my friends and I would enjoy homemade cupcakes topped with thick red and white frosting at the lunch table as we bantered over whether Justin Timberlake was cuter than Nick Carter. On a side note, JT always dominated over Nick.

It wasn’t until college that, one by one, my friends started feeling depressed and lonely about Valentine’s Day. I even remember one of my college roommates lolling about by herself in our shared apartment on February 14, eating chocolate-covered strawberries, drinking wine, and listening to depressing indie rock because she didn’t have a date. This concept utterly baffled me.

I’m not going to lie and say that it’s not nice having a partner on Valentine’s Day. It’s undoubtedly fun to have someone to romantically share a bottle of wine and a cuddling session on the official day of love. But since when is a romantic brand the only kind of love that we have in our lives? Even though I’m married and now in my mid-twenties, my dad still delivers a box of chocolates to me every year as an expression of his love for me as his daughter, and I still send out tiny valentine cards to my dearest friends to show them how much I love them.

Some of the most enjoyable Valentine’s Day celebrations I have ever had have been when I was single and/or spending time with my friends and family. Even now, my husband and I often get together with my parents or an intimate group of friends on February 14, rather than spend the entire evening in our own universe.

Don’t let any Debbie Downers in your life make you feel inferior or depressed if you don’t have a romantic date this Valentine’s Day. Instead, gather a group of close friends or family members and spend the day celebrating your love for one another. If you’re looking for something creative and fun to do, look no further. These five innovative ideas are extremely adaptable and will work for all people, regardless of their relationship statuses:

the heartfelt brunch

Sure, Valentine’s Day may be on a Friday, but no one has to know that you’re actually hosting a brunch with your closest friends rather than lying in bed with the flu. ;) Recruit your closest friends to help you create a love-themed spread of breakfast goodies. The following recipes are a few of our favorites here at Style Actually, but if your kitchen skills are limited, you could turn just about any simple dish into an instant Valentine’s Day treat with the help of a heart-shaped cookie cutter or red and pink food coloring!

Valentine’s Day Egg in the Basket from Chef Recipes

Strawberry Banana Breakfast Smoothie from A Sweet Spot: Home

Nutella French Toast with Strawberries from Quick’n Easy Recipes

Valentine’s Day Fruit Kabobs from Pioneer Party and Gift

Image courtesy of amenic181 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of amenic181 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

the elementary evening

Remember how exciting it was when your elementary school teacher would pull out buckets of craft supplies so your class could make valentines for each other? Relive the excitement by having a card-making party with a group of your closest friends! Decorate paper bags or shoeboxes with your names, just as you did back in your early school days, and spend the evening making colorful cards for each person at the party, dropping them individually into each other’s bags throughout the evening. At the end of the night, read your cards aloud as you munch on some heart-shaped sugar cookies.

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

the cocktail crawl

It’s no secret that most restaurants take advantage of Valentine’s Day, offering a select menu with limited and overpriced options. Instead of spending fifty dollars on an unsatisfying plate, enjoy a light dinner at home and then indulge in a cocktail crawl. Visit a variety of local restaurants, sampling a different drink at each place’s bar counter. To add to the fun, restrict yourself only to drinks that are red or pink in hue or that have names somehow pertaining to love or romance.

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Image courtesy of Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

the photo stroll

Decide on a theme, or simply snap photos of aesthetically beautiful things that happen to catch your eye throughout the evening. At the end of your evening, head home and upload your photos onto your laptop, creating a slideshow presentation or online photo album that will allow you to admire your work.

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

the scavenger hunt

There’s no need to wait for Easter to engage in a full-fledged scavenger hunt; instead of looking for Easter eggs, focus on love-themed items. For instance, your list to scrounge for could include a couple who has been married for at least thirty years, a valentine made by a child, a candy heart with the words “I love you,” and a chocolate candy with pink filling! Break into small teams for some healthy competition if you’re hanging with a group of friends or family members, or leisurely cross items off your list as you locate them if you’re on a romantic date.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Casey Lindberg-Coghill