It's almost Valentine's Day!
Who cares, right? It's yet another marketing ploy to make us buy more stuff that we don't really need.
It's truly overrated. Mass retail merchandisers move from one holiday to the next... Over the next few days, you'll find men stalking Victoria's Secret mannequins. Women will be painting their nails red and getting "vajazzled" for the occasion, hoping for a sparkly new jewellery piece.
Did you know that roughly 180 million Valentine's Day cards will be exchanged in the U.S. alone, making V-Day the second-most popular greeting card-giving occasion? Chocolates and long-stem red roses are also typical (boring) choices.
That's what you say now... but when February 14 actually rolls around, you may end up yearning for a little romance and attention from your partner.
How can you enjoy some romance without playing into the marketing ploy?
There are tons of ways to show your love and affection, without blowing your budget.
Sparking some romance can be simple with some simple, savvy tips:
1. Stay home.
Seriously, don't even bother going on Valentine's Day. Restaurants will be packed, service will likely be horrible. Put the kids early to bed and have a lovely date night at home. Set the mood with some dinner and drinks by candlelight. Whether you make a quick pasta dinner or order in, home is always comfy and cozy when the lights are dim and the glasses are full.
2. Go out... the following night.
If you must go out, you know that babysitters can be quite expensive to hire for a night out on the town. Instead of hiring a nanny or babysitter to watch the kids, why not swap services with your family, friends or neighbours? You can alternate date nights without having to spend a ton of cash. You wouldn't want to go out on V-day night anyway!
3. Let's get physical
If you do want to go out on V-day because what would your neighbours think?!, skip the packed restaurants and do something different and fun -- go bowling or skating. Find a rollerskating rink and remember what it was like to moonlight in seventh grade.
4. Coffee and a book
If you're not the type to get active on a date (I don't mean that kind of active), grab your loved one and head to the bookstore. Grab a couple of lattes and some biscotti, find a corner in the romance section and read each other some poetry. Find a steamy romance novel or Kama Sutra book and take it home with you to read together in bed.
5. Picnic by the fire
Plan a romantic picnic in the middle of your living room floor. Lay out a blanket, feed your partner some cheese and grapes and share a bottle of wine. Don't forget to turn on the fireplace and play some soft, sensual music... as long as it's not Michael Bolton.
6. Be cheap and be proud
Married couples don't need to worry about looking "cheap." Hey, having kids is expensive! Search the net for group-buying coupon companies that offer some great deals on entertainment experiences. You can find yourself saving up to half price on museums, wine tastings, restaurants and more. Your partner doesn't need to know.
7. Make it a family affair
Well the kids are home and no one can babysit. May as well just enjoy the evening as a family! Make a pizza together, bake some cookies, watch a family movie (you know grown-ups love Tangled, too) or play some video games, board games or dancing games like Just Dance.
8. Snuggle up on the couch
Instead of heading into a packed theatre for movie night, rent some DVDs. Whether he likes it or not, he will just have to watch The Notebook on Valentine's Day. Sorry guys! Make your own popcorn, buy some candy, dim the lights and make sure to turn your cell phones off!
The trick to a successful Valentine's Day is not about the gifts, chocolates and flowers; it's about having fun. Chances are you'll enjoy spending time with your loved one whatever you do!
Follow Maria Lianos-Carbone on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@amotherworld