Saturday, February 12, 2011
Few people are indifferent to Valentine's Day. I have friends who plan it for months--the hearts, the flowers, the reservation, the lingerie, the seduction. Others adamantly refuse to celebrate it at all, declaring it a Hallmark Holiday. Some even consider V-Day contrary to true love, believing that you should be romantic all year long, not just on February 14. (Of course, that cohort was a group of guys who were notoriously cheap and skilled at spin, so their credibility is suspect even if the argument has merit....)
I recently read that February 13 has become one of the busiest nights for restaurants. If this doesn't kill the romantic spirit, nothing will: Cheating spouses go out with their extracurricular activity that night, saving V-Day for their husbands or wives. Ick.
But adulterers aside....In order to navigate this potential minefield with minimal casualties, I offer you some Valentine Guidelines.....
1. Gentlemen: Don't give a ring unless it is THE RING. Do not even give a gift in a box of a size and diminsion that could potentially contain a ring unless it is THE RING. No amount of smooth talk, backrubbing or chick flick attendance can restore the mood after she expectantly opens a small square box and finds a chocolate truffle, guitar pick, or ITunes gift card.
2. Know Your Valentine. I once saw a gentleman fill a Godiva box with sushi for Valentine's Day. He actually dumped the chocolates in the trash (whether I pulled a George Costanza and dug some out is really no one's concern) and gave the box to the sushi chef to fill with unagi, ebi, and maguro. I hope the love of his life was happy when she opened the box. If that had been me, (and I eat sushi at least once a week with pleasure and gusto) my Valentine would have made a colassal boo-boo. So think about your significant other before you buy tickets/make a reservation/arrange a hike and picnic. If he or she is a homebody, don't plan a party. If your valentine loves rom-coms and you don't, she'll be thrilled when you offer to take her to see No Strings Attached and don't require a future commitment to see The Mechanic in return.
3. Know Your Valentine, Part II. If he/she is not the romantic type and never has been, don't expect a sudden influx of roses, truffles and heartfelt verses expressing his/her eternal devotion to you in iambic pentameter. Either let it go or summon up the trimmings for the both of you: "Honey, Saturday is Valentine's Day. I'd really like to have a special evening with you." Plan the dinner/drinks/ movie/bubble bath and make sure s/he is on board. Who knows, s/he might even show up with some overpriced roses or at least a mushy card. But if s/he doesn't, and this is catastrophic for you, you may want to reconsider your choice of Valentine. (Or, s/he may do it for you; no one likes histrionics over what they think is silly.)
4. In the quest for good, cheap and quick Valentine gifts, you can generally only have two of the three. I know, this adage normally applies to the building trade, but it is equally apt for Valentine's gifts. Quick and good is easy, but not cheap. Head to the jewelers, his/her fave boutique, spa, gourmet shop or liquor store and prepare to pony up. If you want good and cheap, you will not get quick (at least not without the help of Grace, see below). This duo usually involves some long-term planning and/or something you make yourself. If you want quick and cheap, it probably won't be very good--no one really wants one of those grab and go stuffed animals or kitchy statuettes. And cheap chocolate ranks right up there with pleated pants on my Things That Should Not Exist List.
As promised, here are some Gracious suggestions for Valentine's gifts, whatever your budget.....
--Personal Coupon Book. These can be as naughty/nice as you like, or a combination thereof. For the naughty you will have to use your imagination; what happens in the bedroom (or living room, kitchen table, backseat, jacuzzi.....) stays there. Graces do not share details. For the nice, offer vouchers for tedious errands, cooking dinner, backrubs, laundry, bearer's choice groan-free movie rental, "get out of 'X' free" (fill in abhorrent social obligation).
--Burn a CD with all of your Valentine's favorite songs (or songs that are meaningful to the two of you--the first song you danced to, the song that was playing when you met, the first argument you had over song lyrics, etc.)
--Make a Valentine's Day Dinner for the two of you. This Romantic Menu Planner will help. If you don't cook, order takeout and have some sparkling wine.
---Jewelry. If you have been dating for more than 2 months, stay away from jewelry because of the dilemma described in #1 above. If you have been dating less than 2 months, stay away from jewelry because it's too soon to start bestowing such extravagant gifts. If you don't fit into either of these categories (i.e. everyone who is engaged, married, or in a relationship in which marriage is irrelevant) then jewelry is ideal. I am not a fan of hearts, but Elsa Peretti has some interesting designs that manage to avoid the preteen girl look. A more moderate but equally appealing choice: Janna Connor Designs. They are fun, stylish, and definitely appropriate for V-day. Not a heart person? Embrace the Valentine's Day color scheme. For the extravagant, consider a John Hardy red leather and sterling bracelet. Not so flush? Go with a more economical Kenneth Jay Lane Red or Pink Bamboo Bangle
---Spa. If you have the ability to send your beloved for a day of pampering at a grand spa, then by all means do so. If not, provide a home-grown version. Purchase some trial size lotions, bath salts, and oils. Accompany them with handwritten gift certificates for shoulder rubs, uninterrupted baths, and body massages. Who knows, the tip you get might be just the best V-Day gift there is.
--Fashion. On the high end, go for a red cashmere shawl. It's elegant, versatile, lightweight and warm as toast. Everytime she wraps it around her, she'll think of you. How romantic. Economical option: heart socks; they're fun, fanciful, very V-Day, and who doesn't run short of socks occasionally? Pair this with some foot cream and a foot massage and you've got a fabulous theme gift--a bit fetishy, but that's ok, it's V-Day after all.
Whatever you do, Graces, do it right. Despite being the shortest month, February can feel mighty long and cold if you blow it on the 14th.
Posted by Social Grace at 10:57 AM