It's really easy in this country to know exactly what time of year it is. You don't need a swanky organiser, a smartwatch, or even a calendar, the lovely retail industry has it covered. All you have to do is stand in the aisle of any major supermarket and all will be clear. So after, obviously, Christmas, which began in some of our local shops towards the end of September, we had the January Sales (Boxing Day) and now, we are already knee-deep in cheesy verses and tacky, cheap accessories. Oh yes, it's no good trying to hide, the marketing boffins have already got you surrounded.
Supermarkets are not keen on people taking photos and I know at least one fellow blogger who has met with some pretty intense resistance from taking unsolicited aisle snaps. Happily though, I was chatting to a talented friend of mine, over at Mrs Pixie Bee, who understood exactly what I meant and cheerfully drew it for you!
If you thought you could sidestep Valentine's Day by conveniently forgetting, your only hope now is to bed down in the garden shed for a fortnight. Which sounds a bit extreme, I know, but for Heaven's sake, how many 'silk' roses, plush creatures or thoroughly impractical undies does one girl need?! It's not that I don't appreciate the sentiment, it's just that the overkill, the tackiness and the overall commercialisation have really detracted from the point. There is nothing less romantic than a predictable gift, given on a pre-determined day, because everybody is doing it. That's not what romance is all about.
I know that some people feel it's not worth bothering with, when you've been together long enough to cultivate a few offspring, but I'm not sure I agree. Why shouldn't you mark the reason your family exists in the first place? When you are celebrating Valentine's Day as parents, though, you are celebrating a lot more than just romance. You are celebrating endurance, longevity, togetherness. The unity as a couple that has produced wonderful children, the humour and creativity that has seen you through the tough times, everything that makes you whole as a family. It's actually a pretty big deal! So, unless tacky and overdone is your thing, it's time to think outside the box and beyond the obvious, to try to harness what represents you as a couple, or even as a family. I've put together some alternative ideas for your Valentine, ditching the commercial and over-priced, in favour of the thoughtful and imaginative. With the added advantage of saving you money in the process. Bonus!
Go Back to Your Roots!
It's always lovely to relive memories. Sifting through old photos, or collecting little mementos and souvenirs. A 3D memory is extra-special though, so why not take your partner on a trip to the scene of your first date? You can make it even more personal by, perhaps, wearing the outfit you were wearing on the day, or even making the same sandwiches! Anything goes, the important part is to relive the bits that were significant to you, as a couple. It could be anything, memories are often envoked by the senses, even smell, so it may be time to track down the perfume you wore. Our first date was at Bristol Zoo. This is us, with me looking considerably thinner in an even thinner dress. Even if that dress did still fit, I don't think it would be a wise choice at this time of year!
Bake a Cake!
Sometimes money is tight and that is when it's important to try to use whatever skills you have. I am a great believer in handcrafted gifts. It's not about perfection, it's about personality and, even if you don't need to watch the pennies, a homemade bake will always be far superior to a bought one, even if it's a little bit ropey. The great part is, you can make it exactly how your loved one likes it and make it completely personal to them. Marmite flavoured filling and twiglet decorations? Why not! Maybe you could order one with a particular filling or topping, but it wouldn't be nearly as much fun! Decorate it however you like, your expression and personal touch is what will make it special. Here's one I made earlier!
Make a Promise!
This is an old-fashioned idea, but I reckon it still has a place in most relationships! Promise cheques are small pieces of paper with promises written on them. You can make an effort and decorate them if you are feeling arty, but the basic principle is that you promise to do something that you wouldn't normally do. Relinquish the remote for the evening, cook breakfast for a week, accompany your beloved somewhere you're not keen on, like the supermarket or the mother in law's! Whatever you agree to, it's sure to go down well and it's easy to make it personal to your own shortcomings!
Don't Even Bother!
This is an especially radical idea, but, if it's not in your nature, or your partner's, to be soppy or romantic, there's no law that says you have to. It is absolutely fine, to say, stuff it, that's not us. Do something fun with the kids instead and forget all about it. What a great way to celebrate who you are as a couple, than to embrace your shared loathing of soppy, commercialised holidays!