If you have followed my blog (I’m talking to you, mom), you would know that I am always trying to celebrate holidays–both religious and made-up-by-Hallmark holidays–more sustainably. Valentine’s Day, which clearly falls under the “made up” category, is coming up in a couple of weeks and I’m ready to turn the pinkest day of the year into the greenest.
My relationship with Valentine’s Day has evolved over the years.
Elementary School – early Middle School: I spent minutes picking out the best cartoon-themed, pre-made Valentines with my parents. I wrote the names of all of my classmates on said Valentine’s. I made one for my teacher and possibly my best friends. I assembled them with whatever stickers and/or candy the cards came with. I placed them all in someone else’s shoebox. I went home and opened my own shoebox to find about 30 different, but incredibly similar, Valentines. I ate candy with my friends on the concrete floor of someone’s garage.
Late Middle School – High School: I spent about 100 minutes deciding whether or not to make the bold move to give my crush a Valentine. Almost 100% of the time, I decided against it because I was a chicken and love-related feelings were a lot for me to handle. If I had a “boyfriend” at the time, I would exchange chocolates, Bath & Body Works gift baskets, and awkward hand-made Valentines. If I didn’t, I would spend the whole day thinking about how awesome it would be if I had just made my crush a damn Valentine. I ate candy with my friends on the carpeted floor of one of our basements.
College: I had one awesome Valentine’s Day while I was dating someone, followed by the worst Valentine’s Day ever after we broke up about a year later (there was burning of possessions, crying, saying mean things about him to my friends, etc.). After that, I pretty much only looked forward to Valentine’s Day as the Day Before the Candy Goes on Sale. My friends and I made plans to hang out and skip the whole romantic part of the holiday. I ate chocolate and gulped wine with my amazing friends on the linoleum floor of one of our dorm rooms.
Grad School So Far: I wasn’t finding any gentlemen around my town and a lot of my friends were single too. It was kind of awesome, actually. We pretty much assumed we would be hanging out together on Valentine’s Day. Though I still mostly considered it the Day Before Candy Goes on Sale, I also looked forward to hanging with my ladies and getting our wine and chocolate on. I ate chocolate and baked goods and sipped wine with my wonderful friends on the odd, blue carpet floor of my grown up apartment.
How will Valentine’s Day look now that I am working to green my life in as many ways as possible? This might be the easiest holiday to celebrate without too much damage to the planet. My first thoughts are…
- Vegan chocolate: Justin’s, you are my everything.
- Organic and/or local wine: Tiger Mountain Vineyards is one of my favorites.
- Handmade cards from recyclable material: I haven’t done them for Valentine’s Day, but I made them for Christmas one year and they were a hit!
- E-cards: My mom is obsessed with JibJab… I’m expecting a strange personalized card from her this year.
- Homemade Valentine’s Day treats: Pinterest, you the real MVP.
- Choosing local restaurants: I am lucky to live in a city where I get to explore a lot of local restaurants. I encourage all of you to eat local for your romantic Valentine’s Day dates.
- A craft from the heart: I know those large boxes of chocolates are tempting, but they are expensive and they could never impress your Valentine more than a sweet, personalized gift. Write a love letter, keep a jar of memories to give to your boo, cook your partner’s favorite meal, make a video of your favorite experiences, put a flash mob together. Do something that fits you, not something that fits in a heart-shaped Russell Stover box.
- Experiences instead of things: Jewelry may be shiny, but weekend getaways or romantic adventures make for better memories and more quality time together.
- If you are into jewelry, choose local again: My city has some awesome local jewelry artists, so it’s easy to choose local stuff over the brand name or chain store items. Look for the same in your own cities.
If you are looking for something sweet to do with your honey-pie-sweet-cheeks-lovey-bear-sugar-lips on Valentine’s Day, try something more unique than the mainstream, overpriced stuff you see on jewelry and drug store commercials. Forego the giant teddy bear and mass-produced card and plan a homemade dinner and a romantic night time stroll. Skip the boxed chocolate and make your own dessert together while you listen to a playlist you put together of all your favorite songs. Instead of exchanging presents, plan a fun day trip or weekend getaway to one of your favorite places.
Celebrating with friends this year? Plan out a fun party and decorate with pictures of yourselves doing awesome stuff together. Buy some local wine, make some yummy treats, and spend the night ranking the man buns and beards of famous people.
Whatever you choose to do on Valentine’s Day to celebrate with the people you love…