Valentine's Day, with all its soppy, enforced romanticism, cliched roses and Hallmark teddies holding hearts with saccharine messages imprinted on them, is enough to make any sane woman dry-retch.
Although I'm morally opposed to any commercialised "holiday" that tells you to spend more money, I'm in favour of showing the ones you love, you love them. All too often we get caught up in the rush of the day-to-day and forget to take a moment to show our love and appreciation for the people in our lives who make it all bearable (even if that person is you). And though I don't believe in a prescribed day for said actions, if V-day is what it takes to remind you to hug your love, then by all means, use it for that purpose.
If you are going to do this though, please don't just buy whatever mindless gift the junk mail catalogues tell you to. Put some thought into it. It doesn't have to be expensive, you just have to spend some time thinking about what the person who means most to you would really like. It may be your spouse, mother, brother, best friend or you may be using this opportunity to give yourself some well-earned appreciation.
There are some typical gifts that are okay: lingerie, jewellery and shoes are always welcome. Just buy with the person in mind. Men, don't buy sexy lace lingerie if you've only ever seen your partner in cotton boy-legs. Don't go to a chain-store jeweller if they've been drooling over the Meadowlark website for the past six months. And shoes? They can be a hard one. Unless you're absolutely certain, a voucher is always a safe bet.
Speaking of vouchers, massage or facial vouchers are good, even the non-girliest of girls will enjoy a good rub-down. Flowers are nice, but die in a week or so. If your partner is green-thumbed, get a potted plant or flower or herbs for the kitchen windowsill. Put a ribbon around it and you've got yourself a thoughtful gift that will last, and cost you less than $10. If she's more clothing-inclined, you could buy an item with a nice floral print instead of actual flowers, such as the gorgeous roses in Blak's winter collection (it's hitting stores now).
If your loved one is a book-ish type and you don't have any cash spare, go to the library and hire out your three favourite books. Write a wee note explaining why you love each one, and why they might too. Pop it in with the books and wrap. Just be sure to mention they're from the library so they know to return them! The same would work for film buffs.
For all the parents out there, simple is best. Any child-free activity will be treasured - whether that's a weekend spent in bed with bubbles, an afternoon at the movies or an evening spent late-night shopping for whatever takes your fancy. Quality time without your beloved wee ones is always necessary and appreciated.
The point is, Valentine's Day doesn't have to be a big deal and it doesn't have to cost the earth. And you don't have to celebrate it at all. Just remember, showing your loved ones you love them should be an everyday occurrence. Though these ideas would work for V-day, you could use them for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas or any time you feel they deserve it. Go on, spread the love!
On the cheap
Another lovely idea that won't cost an arm and a leg is a home-made face mask. Buy a jar from the Warehouse (about $3), Google a homemade face mask recipe that suits (do this as close to gifting time as possible), write a tag with instructions for use and you're done. I love this coffee and cocoa mask.
4 tbsp finely ground coffee (has to be fine so it doesn't scratch!)
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
8 tbsp plain yoghurt or one egg white
2 tbsp honey
Mix the first three ingredients until a smooth paste forms. Warm the honey slightly (so it mixes better) and add to the bowl.
Stir until mixed. To use, rub the mask on your face and neck. Allow to dry.
Press a warm, wet face cloth on your face to loosen the mask, then rinse with warm water.
Any leftover paste can be stored in a sealed jar in the fridge for a few days.