Valentine's Day is soon upon us and a quick glance around just about any store is proof of that. We are surrounded by The Day of Romance, Hearts and Flowers (usually starting on December 26th) and it is everywhere -- in grocery stores, in the lingerie department of your favorite store... there are even Valentine decorations and gift suggestions at home improvement stores. (Although I never thought of a power saw as a Valentine's gift... that's just me.)
But what happens if you don't happen to be coupled off? How do you get through -- and even enjoy -- Valentine's Day when you are on your own? How do you feel sensational instead of sulking on a day that traditionally celebrates people in love? Following are a few great author-tried-and-true suggestions for enjoying Valentine's Day that are low- or no-cost, low-fuss and most importantly... lots of fun. Keep in mind that if your nearest and dearest friends are indeed coupled off, you can always select a day other than February 14th to enjoy one of the following suggestions:
** Invite a few friends over for an appetizer exchange, a potluck dinner or a Decadent Dessert gathering at your home. Decorate your house and your table for the occasion and include festive drinks, such as champagne with a splash of Chambord (raspberry liqueur), Cosmopolitans, Shirley Temples with maraschino cherries or hot chocolate with pink marshmallows. Add touches like large glass brandy snifters (available at discount or dollar stores) filled with red licorice whips, chocolate kisses and of course, candy message hearts. Great music is a must and at the end of the evening, send everyone home with a cute token (a heart-shaped keychain, a small heart-shaped picture frame or a few foil-wrapped chocolate hearts in a cellophane bag tied with ribbon) as a memento. The best part about this idea is that you can invite as few or as many people as you care to include; be they just your two best friends or a large group.
** Slumber parties are not just for kids anymore. Why not throw an old-fashioned slumber party! Get into your flannel "jammies" and have fun experimenting with makeup or taking quizzes in women's magazines. Give yourselves at-home facials (you can get quality facial products at the drugstore without spending a ton of money). Take silly pictures and make one another promise never to show them to anyone else. Include a prize for the funniest or most ridiculous pajamas or nightgowns. Your "Girls Night In" might also feature a couple of romantic-comedy DVD's (Love Actually, Pretty Woman, The Holiday, and of course, Valentine's Day are great movie suggestions) and be sure to remember the popcorn, soda and chocolate goodies. If some of your guests do stay the entire night, greet the next day with a couple of fruit juice selections, coffee and flavored creamers, herbal teas and sweet rolls.
** Plan an outing to a place that is not a typical "couples" place to visit on Valentine's Day. For example, bowling parties are huge fun and inexpensive -- plus it is virtually impossible to be gloomy while wearing hilariously awful bowling shoes.
Prefer to be on your own? Plan one (or more) of the following suggestions just for you:
** Treat yourself. It is not selfish and it is not greedy to take the time to pay attention to you. You deserve to be pampered and treated like the awesome person that you are and if this means that for the time being, you have to do it yourself -- then go right ahead and do it yourself.
a. Visit a department store cosmetic counter or have an at-home beauty consultant come in and try a makeover -- something completely different from your usual look. If you love it, you have just discovered a "new you" and if you hate it, it all washes off. Best of all, you can generally enjoy these kinds of makeovers absolutely free of charge.
b. Book a mini-massage or a single spa treatment, which also need not be expensive. You do not have to go to the Spa Du Jour for an all-day extravaganza which can be expensive. Do a little research or better still, consult your friends for recommendations.
c. When was the last time you took an actual bubble bath instead of just 10 minutes in the shower before dashing off to work or to run the kids? Pour yourself a cool glass of your favorite beverage; light an aromatherapy candle, add some bubble bath and jump in. No interruptions allowed.
d. How about enjoying a meal that doesn't involve a microwave oven or a drive-thru window?Prepare a wonderful dinner for yourself with your favorite foods (steak, champagne and a fabulous dessert are my personal favorites). Pull out all of the stops -- because as the commercials have for so long told us... we're worth it!
** There is no law that says you can't get dressed up and take yourself out to a Valentine's lunch or dinner. If you really feel like getting out of the house -- then get out of the house. Pick out one of your favorite restaurants and go enjoy yourself. Admittedly, you may be in the company of couples... but who cares? Plus, restaurants will pay extra special attention to you, which is a lovely feeling.
** We always feel better when we are in service to others. All of the homeless shelters and soup kitchens have a lot of volunteers and extra help during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday period... but what about right now? Everyone tends to disappear at this time of year, yet serving people in need is a year-round reality. Why not take a platter or two of Valentine's cookies or brownies to a shelter, a soup kitchen or to the children's wing of a hospital (with prior permission). Visit elderly folks residing in a convalescent or assisted care facility. Send Valentine's cards to our troops overseas. Valentine's Day is all about love and that can also include love for our fellow man.
Lastly, please do not be afraid of the day. I know that can be easier said than done -- but remember when I said that all of the above suggestions were "author-tried-and-true"? That's because this author spent her fair share of Valentine's Days on her own and just didn't want Valentine's Day to turn into Valen-whine Day. I encourage you to try and shift your focus from what (or who) you may not have in your life at this season in time, to instead reflecting upon and celebrating the love (all kinds of love) with which you have been previously blessed and that you have in your life today.
And always remember... you never know what may happen before next Valentine's Day!
Carole's latest book, "Happily Even After..." has been selected as a finalist for the prestigious Books for a Better Life Award. For more information about Carole Brody Fleet and Widows Wear Stilettos, please visit www.widowswearstilettos.com
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