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The Hard Truth on Cliché Valentines Gifts

“Love is in the air” is a common phrase that people use once February rolls around year after year. Personally, I never truly understood what exactly everyone is sniffing out – is it the blossoming of new relationships? Demonstrating more acts of kindness to your loved ones? Perhaps there’s just blissful and loving energy that radiates throughout the city during this time of year – no one can explain it. 

I have come to realize that the simplicity of sharing acts of gratitude and love has been overpowered by an influx of cliché Valentine’s Day gifts found in aisle seven of your nearest drug store. As the years go by and I grow older, I begin to question whether this “love” in the air is as enchanting and mystical as everyone believes it is, or if we are all just smelling cheap chocolates in a heart-shaped box with a side of an overwhelmingly massive teddy bear that gets thrown out one week after the 14th.

I want to make it clear that the intent of this article is not to bash the gifts you give to that special someone – if you dig more traditional gifts, all the power to you. However, what if I told you that you could express your appreciation for someone in a more personalized way, all while saving a few bucks? 

It’s time to remove the heart-shaped necklace from your Amazon cart and accept that even though it’s on clearance, we can do better for this year’s Valentine’s Day.

It appears that recently we have seen increased pressure to buy gifts not only for significant others, but for other loved ones in our lives, such as friends, roommates and family members. The unspoken stress of buying the latest and greatest gift for someone places pressure on gift-givers as they jump through various hoops to make the 14th “perfect”. While I can appreciate the commitment to impress, perhaps Valentine’s Day has turned into a day of checklists rather than simply taking the day to enjoy the company of that special someone, doing things that you both enjoy. We are not strangers to the fact that big-name corporations have overshadowed the principle of expressing love in individualized ways by contributing to the societal pressures placed on February 14th. 

This year, why don’t we set aside the pressures of Valentine’s Day and the associated cliché gifts the holiday has to offer and create our own way to express our love? Here is a brief list of unconventional ways to spend the day:

1. Gift an experience

2. Go on a day trip 

3. Purchase a present from a local business to show your support

4. Make their favorite home cooked meal 

5. Be tourists for the day and sightsee

6. Get crafty 

7. Hit up a museum or art gallery 

8. Have a bake-off

9. Host a wine + charcuterie board night 

10. Find local live music

The list can go on and on, but the most important takeaway is that you enjoy the day with the people you love. The pressure to make Valentine’s Day the most elaborate holiday of the year is overdone and, quite frankly, unattainable. There is no need to stress over the countless recycled gifts we are expected to buy to showcase our appreciation for others when you can take February 14th as an opportunity to do things both you and that special someone enjoy – even if it is simply binging your favourite TV series while sharing a bottle of wine. Give yourself some more credit, you don’t need a 15-pound stuffed bear telling you how to celebrate. 

Dana Sabadics

Dalhousie '23

Dana is a second-year nursing student attending Dalhousie University. She is passionate about all things wellness and how to build self-confidence. She has a background in fitness instructing and has ambitions to help university like herself students achieve their wellness goals - whether it be cooking delicious meals on a budget or at-home exercises you can do in your spare time while attending Zoom University. In her downtime, she enjoys traveling, cooking, art, and going on routine 'hot girl walks'.
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