Whether or not you're in a romantic relationship, Valentine's Day is the one day of the year completely dedicated to all things lovey-dovey and touchy-feely. But, as the holiday has gotten more and more commercialized, some people find that it's more enjoyable to celebrate with those they love on a day other than February 14th. Read on for my tips on having a love-filled Valentine's Day, either on the holiday itself or on an alternate date, and for fun tips on having a low-key love-fest with friends and family.
It's no secret that service is generally worse on holidays like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and New Year's Eve than it is on a regular night. Restaurants scurry to pack in as many reservations as possible, overwhelming the staff in both the front and back of the house, adding insult to injury for workers who may feel slightly resentful of having to give up their own celebrations already. If you do decide to dine out on Valentine's Day, be patient and tip well. And, if you decide to postpone, try rescheduling dinner on a Tuesday night. For fine dining "treat" restaurants especially, which are generally closed on Sundays and Mondays, Tuesdays are the least-crowded night of the week and also the best night of the week for service: the food and the staff are both at their freshest.
If you decide to celebrate Valentine's Day away from home, either with dinner and a movie or a romantic weekend getaway, it's best to look for babysitters and pet sitters well in advance. Like restaurant reservations, caregivers tend to book up fast and early. Use Care.com to post a job for your care needs today. Also, as with my restaurant tips above, you may want to pay your sitter a premium rate for working on the holiday, or do something nice like give them flowers and leave fun, festive activities for them to enjoy with your kids (on you, of course). Renting a sentimental movie appropriate for all ages, or leaving a stipend for bowling or ice cream, is a great idea.
Family Fun Fest
On most days, let alone Valentine's Day, keeping it simple often makes for the best family fun--especially with kids. Here are some great ideas for celebrating Valentine's Day at home:
- Start the day off with a special breakfast. Pick up inexpensive themed paper plates and napkins (or just plain old red leftovers from Christmas). Give each kid (big or little) a little something to tell them you love them and just how special they are to you, like a little stuffed animal or a card with a sweet note inside.
- If you're planning ahead (and feeling ambitious), you can make great custom placemats online and have them shipped directly to you. The Care.com editors love the ones at OliveKids.com.
- Kids get a kick out of food coloring, so make pink pancakes or waffles for breakfast! If you happen to have a heart-shaped mold or iron, great—but don't underestimate the power of plain old food coloring. Feeling inspired now? Pick up heart-themed bakeware at SurLaTable.com or at your local Home Goods store and let the theme carry on to brownies, red velvet cakes, and more sweet treats.
- For more crafty fun, kids can make simple Valentine's Day cards for grandparents with red construction paper and simple stickers. Or, for older kids, make a "photo frame" card with heavier card stock cut to frame a wallet-sized school photo. Tape or glue the photo inside the "mat" and then cut a piece of construction paper the size of the card to glue on the photo back to hold it in place.
- Create festive cards with the kids online at photo-sharing sites like Shutterfly.com and KodakGallery.com. Both sites offer greeting card templates you can customize at affordable prices every day.
Even if you're single, there are lots of ways you can give and receive love on Valentine's Day:
- Send cards, flowers, or homemade goodies to grandparents and far-flung relatives, or surprise them with a phone call just to tell them you're thinking of them.
- Call to volunteer at a local nursing home, women's shelter, or animal shelter, offering company, compassion, or cooking skills to those in need.
- Treat another single friend to a movie night, coffee, bowling, shopping, or another activity to show them how much you appreciate their special place in your life.
- Like you did in grade school, buy a box of Valentine's Day cards and individually wrapped candies at the supermarket and pass them out to friends or even co-workers.
Have a great tip for celebrating the holiday? Share it with the Care.com community by posting a comment!
Happy Valentine's Day,