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How to celebrate Valentine’s without the cliché

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How to celebrate Valentine’s without the cliché

Allow us to help you honor those that you love by providing some non-cliché ways to participate in Valentine’s.

By Emmeline Peaches

Walking in to any retail environment around in early February, it’s hard not to notice the distinct increase in love hearts, a chocolate aroma and a distinctly pink-and-red aisle.

Whether we personally celebrate it or not Valentine’s Day permeates our psyche and has a very specific set of clichés that goes along with it. This cliché is on full display when shopping and is usually as follows: Flowers, cuddly toys, chocolates & other confectionaries, and little pre-made books and card that declare our love through a cookie-cutter sonnet.

Although there’s nothing wrong with this (and we don’t condemn anyone who appreciates these clichés) the Valentine’s framework can feel restrictive, insincere, or just overdone for many. Poly and queer individuals, in particular, might often find that the usual Valentine’s Day selection doesn’t speak to them – as Valentine’s itself is notoriously heteronormative and marketed with monogamy in mind. And for those who dislike over-commercialized trends of any kinds you can’t get much more precise than the Valentine’s Day formula.

But what if you don’t like the Valentine’s Day clichés but still want to celebrate the occasion in some way? Is such a thing impossible?

Of course not! Allow us to help you honour those that you love (yourself included) by providing some non-cliché ways to participate in Valentine’s, not a single heart-holding cuddly toy in sight.


Make Your Own Card

Most people can agree that not only is the Valentine’s Day card section of a store a cluttered mess to navigate but it’s often not worth it either.

The cards usually share the same messages, usually come in the same colour scheme, and rarely say anything significant about the individual/s that you love.

Opt out of the system and make your own card. All you’ll need is an A4 piece of card, some basic writing & colouring tools (it could even be a single fountain pen), and some glue and photographs if desired. Use the colours you know speak to those receiving the card, add the message you want, and make it your own. Avoid red, pink, and hearts altogether for added V-Day cliché avoidance or just skip the card altogether and write a letter. Letters need to come back in style.


Avoid The Valentine’s Day Aisles When Shopping For Gifts

Don’t even look at a Valentine’s Day section – don’t let it catch you in its net of easy clichés. Instead think about what your partner/s interests are and give them something you know they’ll really love.

It doesn’t have to be sweets, nor a cuddly toy, nor flowers. Those things, while nice, aren’t necessarily useful, and can’t really provide the same engagement that a good book or a useful piece of equipment might.

If you want to get them something that you can both enjoy then opt for something such as a movie you can watch together, a video game, or a board/card game. Bonus points if it’s Cards Against Humanity – perhaps the least Valentine’s Day game out there.


Ask Your Partner/s What their Ideal Day Might Be (And Aim For That)

Oftentimes when we plan a Valentine’s Day out our minds go to the clichés or the typical date ideas.

The problem with that? You’re immediately disissing your partner/s and what they wantif you do this. The focus stops being about what they want and becomes how you can fit a certain societal ideal and that is not ideal at all.

Instead, actually tell your partner/s that you want to treat them for Valentine’s Day and ask them what they want to do.

If they want a day at a massage resort then fine, but it could be that they’d rather have a day at the latest art exhibition followed by a brisk walk and that’s cool too. The important thing is that you’re refusing to give in to the Valentine’s Day clichés which, ironically promote a rather selfish approach to planning a partner-based day out.


Do Something Physically Active Together

Speaking of a brisk walk, why not make a mutual decision to give the full middle-finger to the dainty, floral, gentle Valentine’s Day pamper session and go full-on physical?

Sign up for a Valentine’s Day run together. Maybe even a half-marathon or something else monumental. A tough mudder? A team-building bootcamp? The options are endless!

If you do mutually decide to book a milestone fitness event on Valentine’s Day then you could even take the time prior to train up to it together, strengthening your bond even more.

The big bonus here? Physical activity gives a mood boost, helps promote good mental health, is great for physical health overall, and makes you feel very chilled out afterwards. This means that, should you wish to do some cliché activities later in the day then you’ll be free to do so and, chances are, they’ll feel so much better following a fitness event.


Let Your ‘Freak Flag’ Fly

Non-monogamous? Arrange to all get together and have a fantastic group sex event.

Kinky AF? Arrange a really hardcore session with some subversive Valentine’s themes in there.

Struggling with issues of sexual or gender identity? Organise and advertise a non-conforming support group for anyone who might need it on Valentine’s Day.

If you feel like Valentine’s Day is trying to shun you then make it your mission to proudly claim your space and make it as queer or non-conforming as you possibly can.

Valentine’s clichés are so strong that, at times, it seems impossible things will change, but the same could once be said about the huge social issues of previous times too.

You have a right to exist and to be seen every day and any day but especially on days seen and celebrated as a cultural marker for the views that oppress you.

So do just that. You are, after all, amazing and you can make a change.


The Takeaway

Conventional Valentine’s celebrations will always have a place and an audience in our world and this isn’t a bad thing. But never feel like, just because they exist, you have to conform to them in order to truly be part of the celebrations.

Annual holidays have a public and cultural element to them but they also have a personal and subjective one and every family – every person – has their own traditions and preferences.

What will yours be? That is up to you.



Emmeline Peaches 

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