It seems like no sooner do we finish putting away turkey leftovers and gift-wrap and have managed to get the last of the pine needles vacuumed out of our carpeting or the candle wax cleaned out of the menorahs, that Valentine's Day is upon us - and a quick glance around just about any store is proof of that. We're surrounded by The Day of Hearts and Flowers (usually starting on December 26th) ...and it is everywhere - in grocery stores, in the lingerie department of your favorite store...there are even Valentine decorations and gift suggestions at home improvement stores (although I never thought in terms of a power saw as a Valentine's gift...but that's just me).
But what happens when you don't happen to be "coupled off"? How do you get through - and even enjoy Valentine's Day when you are on your own? How do you feel "single and sensational" rather than "single and sulking" on a day that celebrates couples in love? Following are a few great suggestions for enjoying Valentine's Day (with or without other people involved) that are low or no-cost, low-fuss and most importantly...lots of fun:
· Invite a few friends over for a potluck dinner or a Decadent Dessert gathering at your home. Decorate for the occasion and include festive drinks, such as champagne with a splash of Chambord (raspberry liqueur), Cosmopolitans, Shirley Temples with lots of maraschino cherries or hot chocolate with pink marshmallows. Include touches like large crystal brandy snifters filled with red licorice whips, bowls of Hershey's kisses and of course, candy message hearts. Send everyone home with a heart-shaped key-chain, a small heart-shaped picture frame or a few foil-wrapped chocolate hearts in a cellophane bag tied with ribbon as a memento of the evening.
· Slumber parties aren't just for kids. Have an old-fashioned slumber party - get into your flannel "jammies" and take turns experimenting with make-up or taking quizzes in women's magazines. Give one another facials (you can get quality facial products at the drugstore without spending a ton of money). Take ridiculous pictures and make one another promise never to show them to anyone else. Your "Girls Night In" might also feature a couple of romantic-comedy DVD's (Love Actually, Pretty Woman, The Holiday, Shirley Valentine and of course -Valentine's Day... are all great movie suggestions) and be sure to remember the popcorn, soda and chocolate goodies. Guests don't have to stay the night, you can have "half" a slumber party and say bid your guests good night with chocolate chip cookies and shot glasses filled with cold milk. If you do choose to have guests stay overnight, offer flavored coffees in red or pink mugs (available at dollar stores) and a selection of pastries for the morning.
· Go someplace that is not a typical "couples" place on Valentine's Day and enjoy yourselves. For example, bowling parties are huge fun, inexpensive and it's impossible to be gloomy wearing hilarious bowling shoes.
· Treat yourself! You deserve to be pampered and treated like the awesome woman that you are and if this means that for the time being, you have to do it yourself - then do it yourself!
o Visit a department store cosmetic counter or have an at-home beauty consultant come in and try a makeover - something completely different, just for fun - and you can generally do this absolutely free of charge.
o Book a mini-massage or a single spa treatment of some kind...these also need not be expensive. You don't have to go to the Spa Du Jour for an all-day extravaganza (which can be expensive) - do a little research online or with the Yellow Pages...better still, consult with your girlfriends and see if they have any recommendations.
o When was the last time you took an actual bubble bath instead of just ten minutes in the shower before dashing off to work or to run the kids? Pour yourself a cool glass of your favorite beverage or cocktail; light an aromatherapy candle, add some bath salts and jump in. No interruptions allowed.
· How about enjoying a meal that doesn't involve the microwave or a drive-thru? Prepare a wonderful candlelit dinner for you. Pull out all of the stops - steak, champagne and a fabulous dessert - because as the commercials have so long told us...we're worth it! If you really feel that you need to get out of the house - GO! There's no law that says you can't get all dressed up and take yourself out to Valentine's Dinner. Admittedly, you may be surrounded by couples...but who cares? Besides, you will be waiting on and fussed over in ways you probably haven't experienced. Pick a favorite restaurant or a restaurant that you have always wanted to try and go enjoy yourself.
· We always feel better when we are in service to others. All of the shelters and soup kitchens have lots of volunteers and help during Thanksgiving and Christmas...but what about right now? These places still serve people in need and people in need are a year-round reality. Why not take a platter or two of Valentine's cookies or brownies down to a shelter, a soup kitchen or to the children's wing of a hospital (with prior permission of course). Visit elderly folks residing in a convalescent or assisted care facility. Valentine's Day is all about love and that can also include love for our fellow man.
Lastly - don't be "afraid" of the day. Instead of fear, pain or grief, why not take the time to instead reflect upon and celebrate what you do have in your life.
About Carole Brody Fleet
Carole Brody Fleet is the award-winning author of the critically-acclaimed, "Widows Wear Stilettos: A Practical and Emotional Guide for the Young Widow" (New Horizon Press) and the forthcoming, "I'm 'Heeling' One Day at a Time: The ULTIMATE, One-and-Only Question, Answer and Reference Guide to Life After Widowhood" as well as the author and executive producer of the best-selling CD entitled, "Widows Wear Stilettos: What Now?". Recipient of the Embrace Life Award from State Farm Insurance Companies and the Board of Directors Outstanding Service Award from the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation, Carole has been featured on national, regional and local television and regularly appears as a guest expert on numerous radio programs nationally and internationally; as well as in national and international magazines, newspapers and websites. To learn more about Widows Wear Stilettos, visit www.widowswearstilettos.com.