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I don't do Valentine's Day anymore — but it wasn't always that way. I used to be down for a fancy night out on V-Day (or maybe just the idea of one).
Three years ago, my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) decided to go all out and spend $300+ on dinner at a well-known celebrity chef's restaurant in NYC. We ended up being there for four hours (and not because we were having the best time ever). Reservations were backed up an hour and it was so busy it took forever until we finally were served our food. After a long day at work, I was so exhausted and hangry I literally almost fell asleep at the table. (Sorry, babe.)
After that night I realized, Valentine's Day is for suckers.
On February 14, 54% of Americans will spend an estimated $19 billion on Valentine's Day. On average, men will shell out $191 and women will spend $97.
A huge chunk of that cash will be completely wasted because, well, Valentine's Day is overrated and a total rip-off. Unless you're into overcrowded restaurants with crappy service, overpriced but mandatory prix-fixe menus, and flowers that cost double what they would on any other day.
I'm all for celebrating love, just not when it's WAY overpriced. Or forced.
My hub Keith and I at a New York Rangers game (not on Valentine's Day).
What To Do Instead
If you're in an early-stage dating situation: Sorry, but you're probably not getting out of celebrating on February 14. Telling the person you're with that you “don't do Valentine's Day” is pretty much the equivalent of “I don't see a future with you.” Not to hold a double standard here, but at this point in a relationship most women are looking for you to prove that you really do care about them, and participating in the whole “Valentine's Day Thing” plays into that.
That being said, there are plenty of opportunities to be creative. It's not fancy dinner or bust. One year we did a couple's massage and it was actually really amazing.
If your date is someone who you do hope to still be dating next year, then enjoy the fact that by doing the traditional thing this time, next year you can start doing it my way (i.e. the way you really want to).
Couples massage when we were dating + February 14th still had meaning.
If you're in a committed relationship: Plan to celebrate your love on a day AFTER February 14th. Here's a play-by-play of what my husband and I do, but every couple is different so feel free to make it your own:
February 14th: We'll cook dinner at home, have a few drinks, and watch a movie on demand. We choose to keep it super low key (aka hide from the in love lunatics in the streets), enjoy some quality time together, and give ourselves props for beating the system.
We make balsamic onion glazed cheeseburgers to feel fancy.
February 19th: It's the weekend so we can actually relax and this is when we'll celebrate Valentine's Day for real (well for fake…). We won't need a reservation so we can eat wherever we want, order whatever we want, and do something fun after (we'll actually have the time since we won't be spending ~2 hours waiting around). We indulge in the cheesy gifts (flowers, cards and candy) but pay 50% less since we buy them the day after V-day.
You can keep the long lines and crowded restaurants, just give us crab and plastic bibs.
Sometime in March or Any Day During the Year: Remember all of that money we saved because we don't do Valentine's Day or the overpriced prix-fixe menus and full-price gifts? We use a fraction of that money to surprise each other with a gift on a random day for no reason at all. The gesture means a lot more because it wasn't forced, it was totally unexpected.
Now that you know why I don't do Valentine's Day, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you face Valentine's Day full on, come up with your own creative version, or postpone the Hallmark holiday like us? Let me know!