Hello! As cupid’s big day approaches, I’ve got a confession: I am a bit torn on Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved love. From my late-teens through my late-20s, I was either hopelessly in love or utterly heartbroken. I’m laughing as I type this, but trust me when I tell you I welcomed the drama and felt every damn feeling associated with it. I was the “Charlotte” of my friend circle, reminding my girls to keep their “hearts open to love.” What!
Valentine’s Day, however, has always made me anxious. The expectations are too high and the script — flowers, chocolates — a tad forced. The pressure! To prove! Your love! WITH A GRAND GESTURE. It’s too much. So for most of our marriage, Matt and I haven’t made Valentine’s Day into much of anything.
But kids can make you rethink things. Crushed by the passing of Christmas, our littles have started hyping up Valentine’s Day in mid January. A holiday about candy? Of course they love it! So I’ve learned to embrace simpler ways to celebrate.
Below, five ideas to make the day special for yourself or someone you love. A warning — or perhaps a plug? — that these are novice undertakings. As much as I thought I would be a Pinterest mom, I am not (although I have the utmost respect for those who are). These suggestions are not terribly new but they are doable… in that I have managed to do them. And I think that makes them worth sharing?
And finally, five links for you. Have a wonderful week, friends.
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I have always loved a good DIY project but my crafting ambitions have lowered as life has gotten busier. I have learned not to start from scratch but rather… to embellish ;)… something store bought. That way you are taking something good and making it a bit better. I think the ~thought~ really counts.
Here are a few super simple, budget-friendly ways to tackle the five big Valentine’s Day expectations — flowers, cards, dinner, dessert, jewelry — with a little bit of love.
A gorgeous bouquet from a talented florist is a work of art. But you know what else is pretty great? Flowers from the grocery store. When we lived in New York, I found the corner bodegas had a fantastic selection. If you want to jazz them up a bit, buy more than one bunch. Two or even three bouquets combined can pack a real punch. If you are not sure what to pick, look for combos with similar colors in different textures or similar textures in new colors (a common thread is key).
Take the flowers home, remove the plastic wrap, trim the stems so they are the same length, and then arrange how you see fit. If you are keeping the flowers for yourself, try a creative with the vase, like an upcycled glass jar. If you are giving them to someone else, wrap the blooms in butcher paper or newspaper. Ta-da! A beautiful, budget-friendly bouquet.
Extra credit: Tie a fun ribbon around the base of the stems or the vase. I reuse the extra bits that come on presents or with online shopping purchases. They are often the perfect size for this kind of project.
I strongly believe that homemade cards are the best valentines. The one important exception is for school, because nobody wants to make that many class cards! Store bought is absolutely my preferred route. But for a one-off card — for a parent, a child, a partner, or a neighbor — something homemade is a delightful surprise. The message matters most, so get creative! Think of something quirky or unique or even totally mundane that you absolutely love about a person.
For the design, channel your inner child. Hearts have my heart because they are the absolute easiest shape to cut out. Fold a piece of paper, cut a little half circle, a diagonal line, and hot damn, you’ve got it. Scrounge up any other art supplies that you have on hand. Markers, glitter, stickers, it’s all great.
Extra credit: Throw it way back and tap into your middle school collaging days (what, just me?!) and cut up a magazine. You might be thinking: Elizabeth, I’m an adult now. And I would say, Yes, you are! But I dare you to find someone who doesn’t want something that may or may not resemble a ransom note telling them how awesome they are. One year I made my friends and co-workers Valentines with an edition of Us Weekly. REALLY.
If you are someone who has made a reservation at a fabulous restaurant — and maybe even organized childcare — take a minute and congratulate yourself. WELL DONE! But if date nights are out of reach right now (raises hand), then here is a kid-friendly meal for you: Heart-shaped pizzas. My friend Jessica introduced me to this a few years ago. Buy pre-made pizza dough at the grocery store (look for it in the refrigerated deli section), sauce, and shredded cheese. Get creative with those toppings!
I say this from, ahem, experience: Read the pizza dough directions early to properly gauge time to rise, etc. Then do your best to mold that sticky blob into something resembling a heart. I promise it will taste delicious however it ends up looking!
Extra credit: Change the lighting when you sit down to eat. Either dim the lights or break out a candle — even if dinner is at 5pm with your kids. It absolutely changes the whole mood.
When it comes to salty vs. sweet, I am proudly a member of Team Sweet. For Valentine’s Day dessert this year, Matt suggested we make a “choc-uterie” board. You’ve probably seen this trend on Insta because it makes for fun photos. It's also super easy! Pile a cutting board or serving tray with an assortment of treats.
Embrace the flexibility here and make it any size, any shape, any theme. All chocolate, all gummies, a mix of salty and sweet, it all works. Like the flowers, variety is your friend. No need to grab the big bags from the candy aisle; try an assortment of single-size packs from the checkout line.
Extra credit: If you get a box of chocolates, put that container to good use! My friend, Erica Domesek of PS I Made This, smartly arranged her treats in little muffin tin liners to keep it extra cute.
I’ll be very candid that this is the most ambitious of the five ideas. But if Matt can pull this off, I promise you can, too! For my birthday last year, he bought the supplies for the kids to make me a beaded bracelet. And, yes, he ended up fully making me a beaded bracelet on his own, LOL. But gosh I was so impressed! He took a few cues from this blog post by @HonestlyWTF.
You can find the supplies at any craft store (chains like Michaels are always a safe bet) or on Etsy. Make it a family affair! Even if your little ones need help, it’s so charming to see tiny little fingers fumbling with beads and string.
Extra credit: Make it personal with letters — initials are fab — or a single-word affirmation. You can also channel royal fashion and pick a single shade that means something to you or the recipient.
BUT MOSTLY: If you are not living that DIY life, that’s ok! I get you, too. Feel free to peruse or forward the SMT Gift Guide (cough Hot Dad Pants cough). You can also take a page from Matt’s playbook for my birthday this year and replenish something your gift recipient loves. He bought me two serums that I absolutely love but was reluctant to buy again because they’re a bit of a splurge. I was thrilled!
Please share the simple ways in which you make Valentine’s Day special! Hit “Join the Discussion” and share in the comments.
Note: I use affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase I may get a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my work!
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READ / Earlier this month, Minneapolis police shot and killed 22-year-old Amir Locke while executing what’s called a “no-knock warrant.” “Like the case of Breonna Taylor, the killing of Amir Locke shows a pattern of no-knock warrants having deadly consequences for Black Americans,” Attorney Ben Crump told NPR. New York Magazine has a full rundown of the case; Campaign Zero is working to end no-knock warrants. (The Cut, Campaign Zero)
READ / Raise your hand if you have to fight the urge to help your kiddo do something a bit…better? I needed to hear Heather Havrilesky’s frank take on why you should let your children be bad at things. (The Atlantic)
READ / So proud of my friend Katie Rosman for holding the NFL accountable with her latest piece — on the eve of the Super Bowl, no less — about how the league treats women. (New York Times)
WATCH / Is this a live shot of me with a paper towel?? No surface spared! (@LindseyGurk on Instagram)
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That’s it from me, friends! I’ll be back in your inboxes on Friday with a deep dive on Camilla, the future Queen Consort. Have questions about her you’d like me to answer? Email me at Hello@SoManyThoughts.com.
And don’t forget to hit “Join the Discussion” and leave your Valentine’s Day tips on my Bulletin page.
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