Fancy dinner reservations, or a frozen pizza?
A date with Prince Charming, or the ever-suave Jack Daniels?
Whether you're spending Valentine's Day alone, with friends, or snuggled up to your sweetheart, the day is sure to arrive hand-in-hand with some sort of expectations: a holiday that holds the potential for romance, boredom, or—dare we say it—even heartbreak.
OK. Maybe heartbreak is a touch dramatic for the hopeless romantics reading this. (We totally heard you gasp back there.) Before we get lost down the red and pink seasonal aisle of Target and spend thirty minutes justifying reasons it's okay for a working gal in her mid-twenties to pass out glittery Valentines at the office, let's take a brief realist moment to reflect on the amount of money spent purchasing flowers, chocolates, greeting cards, and other quickly-forgotten commodities that people buy for loved ones out of social obligation.
As a nation, we spend approximately $18.6 billion on Valentine's Day. You read that correctly: Billions. And no, the cost of celebrity engagement rings did not skew the results. Amidst all the good intention, many men and women still end the holiday in disappointment. Before you make assumptions about my less-than-rosy-glasses approach to romanticism and take bets on the number of cats I curl up with each night, level with me: I love chocolate as much as the next gal, arguably much more, but I'd rather spend February 14th (this year known as Saturday) experiencing more meaningful things than stuffing my face with overpriced truffles.
So, what's a girl to do? Whether you're single and planning to hit the bars or hitched up with a significant other, you're in luck. Because Valentine's Day falls on a weekend this year, most of us have a little extra time to celebrate than we would during the busy workweek. You probably have a hot date planned (either with your partner or something I'm more likely to relate to, like food). Regardless, I challenge you to stretch beyond consumerism and take some time creating romance this Valentine's Day. Here are some suggestions, all of which can be done alone, with friends, or with a significant other ... sans the hefty price tag.
Hike some of Grand Rapids' awesome trails.
Bundle up and take some time to enjoy the outdoors. Something really unique about Grand Rapids is how easy it is to experience quality nature time without wandering too far from the urban jungle. I personally would choose to go to Millennium Park and jog through the trails (and maybe make eyes at a few sexy, red-cheeked male joggers along the way). Whether you're running, hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing, use the time to breathe some fresh air and get your blood pumping. Oxygenating your blood and releasing endorphins will ensure a good attitude for the remainder of your Valentine's Day.
Try something you've never done before.
YouTube how to crochet a hat, learn how to make dipped candles, try out origami, or visit that new café you've had your eye on but never found the time to stop in to. Trying new things and going new places helps boost your confidence. Even further, teaching oneself a new skill is rewarding and often seems way more difficult than it actually is. This year, the best time to start really is now.
Release your midday Julia Child.
You may have plans for dinner already, but why not have some fun with lunch, too? Try to find a new, interesting way to prepare your favorite pantry staple—lentils, broccoli, chicken, or chocolate. How many ways have you tried spaghetti squash? My personal favorite go-to is baking sweet potatoes, but Health.com's exploration of twenty-five different preparations has inspired me to step outside of my orange, misshapen box. Whatever recipe you choose, spice it up! Variety is the spice of life, after all.
I lied earlier.
This one is for you—only you—and should not be shared with friends, family, or your significant other. Are you ready?
Take time to love up on yourself.
Schedule an hour to read a book (for fun!) or take a soothing, therapeutic bath by adding round slices of fresh oranges to your hot bathwater. The acidic properties of the juice exfoliate and rejuvenate skin on top of smelling fantastic. If you're willing to throw some money into it, schedule a massage or buy yourself a sexy new nightie. Whatever you choose, make sure it makes you feel like the beautiful badass you already are.
Contributed by: Our mystery Valentine is a member of Five Star Real Estate.