February 14 is fast approaching. Stores are at max capacity with teddy bears, balloons, cards and chocolate. Now don’t get us wrong, romance is swell, but how about a little creativity? There are a lot of uninspired efforts out there, showing one’s love in exact same way as last year. And every year. Whether you’re single or involved, long married or recently coupled, having an effective plan of action (or escape) to switch things up when the holiday hits is necessary. Read on for seven tips to break the monotony this Valentine’s Day without breaking the bank, or any hearts—yours included.
1) Honor a weird Valentine’s Day tradition, like Jack Valentine, or the darker version, Snatch Valentine
There’s a knock at the door. There’s a package containing gifts and goodies on the welcome mat. Where did it come from? Good old Jack Valentine, a.k.a., Old Father Valentine or Mr. Valentine. This legend first appeared in Norfolk, UK, sometime between 1830 and 1850, and while mainly used for children, it can be fun to surprise loved ones of any age. Those seeking to be a bit more naughty can employ the Snatch Valentine method—when the eager recipient reaches for the gift, the person posing as ol’ Snatch, hiding out of sight, tugs the string attached to the gift and pulls it away. This can be repeated as often as desired because tricking people is fun!
2) Send a delicious meaty treat
Chocolate boxes and chalky conversation hearts only go so far. If you’re looking to say more than “email me” to your sweetheart, start a new, meaty tradition by giving a Salami Bouquet, one of the tastiest Valentine’s Day gifts for men. With five different sticks of meat and loads of flavor, the Salami Bouquet is a unique way to say you love that special someone. And that you also love meat.
3) Write a poem
The usual romantic Valentine’s Day tropes are tired. Put a new spin on things and come up with your own unique poem that means something to both of you. Need a place to start? Try this:
Roses are red, violets are blue
Sugar is sweet, but jerky is really the best thing you’re going to eat all day.
Pair that poem with a Jerky Heart—or try our Romantic Note Generator—and you’ll be reaping Valentine’s Day rewards for years to come.
4) Get outta Dodge
Whether flying solo or happily attached, sometimes the best thing to do is to just go away. A nice camping trip offers the opportunity for lots of romantic sunsets in nature or the solitude needed to forget that unsettling Spongebob Valentine doll the local pharmacy is pushing. But you can’t live on love alone. You’ll need the Outdoor Survival Crate in case of minor misadventure.
5) Send a Vinegar Valentine
The Victorians were a curious bunch. They had a number of strange traditions, some of which were on the creepy side, like Vinegar Valentines. Sent anonymously and meant to be either rebukes or rejections, Vinegar Valentines allowed senders to tell people off with no consequences. There were cards for nearly all sorts of “offenses” and were meant for friends, unwelcome suitors, annoying neighbors, anyone who needed to be told what’s what. Just like a romantic Valentine, a Vinegar Valentine is sure to make its recipient blush. Just for different reasons.
6) Give everyone a history lesson
Most people think Valentine’s Day was invented by Hallmark. It goes back a bit further than that. If you want to dazzle your significant other or a neighbor or the guy with the long beard at the end of the bar, read this, recite it and look like a genius.
The history of Valentine’s Day and its patron saint is a bit cloudy, and, well, bloody. There are at least three early Christian martyrs named Valentine. One legend has our hero defying the Roman Emperor and performing secret marriages for young soldiers in love (the Emperor thought single men made better soldiers), another suggests he helped Christians escape the cruel Roman prisons, and of course one story has him sending the first “valentine,” when he had a pre-execution note delivered to his jailer’s daughter signed, “From your Valentine.” Anyway you slice it, he got killed and was clearly a sentimental fool deserving of a holiday based on romantic ideals.
7) Remember, there is and “I” in Valentine, so give yourself a gift
Even if you haven’t yet found that special someone—or you have and you just really aren’t into the mass-produced, commercial machine that is Valentine’s Day—you can enjoy the day by treating yourself. Buy those shoes you’ve been eyeing, pick up your favorite bottle of alcohol or upgrade your tech game. Really, no one loves you more than you.
As the immortal, self-proclaimed “overweight lover” Heavy D once sang, Now that we found love, what are we going to do with it? You can buy it a sappy card that doesn’t really express how you feel or some weird stuffed animal that makes for a better chew toy. You could stay home and watch a heartwarming movie like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or The Audition. Don’t do that. Definitely don’t do that. Or you could do something different. Something unexpected. Like a Smash & Grab gift card. Because on Valentine’s Day, breaking concrete is a lot better than breaking hearts.