Illustration by Daria Hlazatova
It’s February. Which means, you know, Valentines day. I have a tourettes-like response to it’s mere mention. A gag reflex and an overwhelming desire to shout obscenities at strangers.
I don’t know why this is. Perhaps it has its roots in the hell that was secondary school love angst. (Will I get a card?.. Shall I send a card… Will somebody post dog poo through my letter box?.. OMG I GOT A CARD *phones all friends*… Oh. Its from my Dad…I HATE MY DAD….*sits on inflatable chair and cries into Leonardo DiCaprio poster*)
Illustration by Ellie Sutton
This aversion to all things Valentines is odd for me because at any other time of year I’ll use any excuse to celebrate. Passed an exam? Brunch! Had a shit week? Fry up! St whatsists day? Party! Commiseratory dinners, congratulatory afternoon tea’s, pity parties and apologetic lunches; whatever the occasion (or lack thereof) I’m there with balloons. But for some reason, Valentines grates on me.
The traditional options are not great. If you’re single; you could get hammered alone or with other single friends. Or watch a Richard Curtis film whilst curled up in the fetal position in flannel pyjamas. Or if you are in a relationship; try and book a table in a restaurant only to find that they are ALL booked and/or extortionately expensive. Then spend the evening looking around at the other couples who are sat within spitting distance whilst the staff incessantly sell you expensive wine and champagne with James Blunt warbling away at you in the background.
Illustration by Alison Day
Sound good? Thought not. (I sound like a love Scrooge, I definitely have issues)
I banned my mister from engaging in any form of commercial Valentines celebration right at the start of our relationship, and we’ve ended up with a fish and chips dinner tradition instead, which I am actually quite fond of.
But if you MUST release your inner schmaltz, here are some alternatives to cheap chocolates and teddybears. Don’t get me started on teddybears.
Illustration by Ellie Sutton
Firstly, if you are in a relationship, probably best not too buy a card from the supermarket. Or the corner shop down the road. Or the petrol station. It takes very little effort to make something and its much more thoughtful. How about writing a letter? It doesn’t have to be a love letter, and its nicer than a brief scrawl in a card. Or what about a stick man comic strip or a flip book? We can all draw stick men. See? No excuse.
If you hate the idea of making something yourself, there are a whole host of talented illustrators and makers out there who will happily fulfill all of your home spun looking Valentines needs. Check out some ideas in Amelia’s article over here.
I discovered via Twitter that Abby Illustrator and her boy are having a living room picnic, which sounds lovely to me and much nicer than the aforementioned Blunt-warbling-restaurant-nightmare.
If you are planning on buying flowers for a loved one (it could be a friend, your lover, your mum..) then … think again. Sorry for the eco rant but growing and transporting flowers uses a huge amount of carbon, especially if they are from overseas. If you must indulge in some floristry delights then look up British grown flowers.
Or, heres a wee crafty idea; give someone a pack of wildflower seeds. Decant into an attractive envelope, sew (or glue) on to a piece of card and illustrate with an appropriately cheesy message. (as this grows it’ll be a symbol of my love. PUKE. My love is like this red red rose. VOM. etc etc)
And for a healthy alternative/addition to a box of chocolates, pretty up a punnet of red fruit and decorate with little flags.
Cook a pink dinner. Beetroot soup to start. Rare steak with a tomato salsa dressing. Kir Royals or Rose wine. Red velvet cake for pudding, or pink macarons or strawberry angel delight… This would be lovely for one, two or twenty two.
Make cookies. Just for the hell of it. Give to colleagues, friends, family members. Or, of course, your loved one. Dust with icing sugar for a chic minimalist finish or get into an e- number frenzy with coloured icing. Home made and cheap.
Go to see Grayson Perry talk about kinky sex. Hold on to your hats.
Send a You’re rad/I like you/love note to your friends and family. Last year I sent mini valentines cards to the female members of my family just to tell them that I think they are rad, and the reasons why.
Illustration by Alison Day
Visit Love from Darkroom, an exhibition raising money for the brilliant charity Kids Company. All of the art pieces are under £150 and it runs till 14th February. Read Amelia’s full listing here.
Host a horror night. My mister and I are planning on spending the Saturday before Valentines working through some early horror films (Nosferatu, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Birds, Night of the Living Dead…) Nothing like a bit of flesh eating Zombie action to get you in that Valentines mood.
Join the Craftivist Collective in hijacking Valentines day and show some love for your global neighbour. Write letters to strangers and make a Tatty Devine key ring then leave them for strangers to pick up. (see separate listing here)
Why not send your loved one an anatomically correct bleeding heart cake by Lilli Vanilli; the creator of the fabulous ACOFI launch party masterpiece? They are made from red velvet sponge, cream cheese frosting and blackcurrant & cherry ‘blood’. I love them and they are a steal at £7.
Image via Lili Vanilli’s blog
Watch Fuck. Not the real thing, gracious no, unless that’s your thing. I’m talking about the documentary which features interviews with the world’s best swearers including Billy Connolly and Ice-T. Hurrah for obscenities!
Visit the Valentines exhibition at the wonderful Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising. This is one of my favourite London museums and this exhibition is all about the culture and history of valentines cards.
Take your loved one on a ‘haunted london’ ghost tour instead, and see the grizzlier side of Londons history…
Go on a night safari with the Natural History museum: You can choose either one of 2 experiences, depending on whether you think Valentine Day is a pleasure or a pain. Both look at the different aspects of Love in the Natural World.
See? Valentines doesn’t have to be a pile of sick. There’s lots of fun stuff to do whether you are in a relationship or not. Or there’s always the pyjama option too…
And so, even I, say to you Happy Valentines day!
activism, Alison Day, Baking, craft, Craftivists, Daria Hlazatova, Darkroom, earth, Ellie Sutton, Fruit, Fuck, Grayson Perry, Hannah Bullivant, Haunted London, Horror Films, Josie Long, Lili Vanilli, Museum of Brands Packaging and Advertising, natural history museum, Tatty Devine, Valentines
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