Valentine’s Day can be one of the most stressful holidays of the year, especially for couples. According to a 2019 study by dating app Plenty Of Fish, 1 in 5 couples wish the holiday was canceled altogether because of the pressures they face. But there are ways to make the holiday memorable without too much stress.
Pressure to perform well on Valentine’s Day mainly comes from expectations. These expectations are largely generated by media of all types, from Tiktoks to romantic books. Seeing how others treat (and are treated by) their partners subconsciously generates comparisons and jealousy, which create expectations for both giving and receiving.
The first step toward making Valentine’s Day a less stressful occasion is communication. Ask your partner what would make the holiday memorable, or ask similar open-ended questions. Ask if there is anything that would disappoint them, so you know to steer clear. Now you can begin the next step: planning an experience.
Giving experiences instead of stuff has become a more prevalent trend in the last few years. Why? Because experiences can be more cost-effective and eco-friendly. And they create memories. No matter what your partner’s love language is, there’s an activity that you can do together that will appeal to them, even if their love language is gift-giving.
For example, doing a craft night or an activity where there is a deliverable that you can give to each other. Or going to a bookstore and picking a book for each other, then spending the afternoon reading at home.
The Minimalist Vegan created a list of 90+ ideas for gifting experiences, and some of the simplest include cooking together, traveling, enjoying free arts entertainment in your local area, or teaching each other a new skill.
Teaching new skills and experiencing each others’ interests is something that doesn’t always come naturally for couples. Alone time and separate interests are key to maintaining boundaries and enrichment, but that doesn’t mean experiencing your partners’ hobbies is a moot point.
Trying something new together and sharing an interest, even for a short time, can revitalize your relationship and prevent Roommate Syndrome from taking root. It can be as simple as watching a Youtube video that your partner loves and you don’t find the same fulfillment in, giving it a try can help you learn more about your partner’s sense of humor while you spend quality time together.
That’s what experience gifting is all about: quality time. Even if all you do is elevate your regular movie night with some candles and try a new recipe for dinner, you’re showing your partner that you care without breaking your wallet in the process. Movie night becomes even more special because you’re showing your valentine that you’re thinking about them.
And if all else fails, put some effort into a thoughtful card. With programs like Photoshop and Canva, it’s easy to create a valentine’s card, and only takes minutes to write a thoughtful message in it. And Hallmark is still in business at your local store if you don’t have time to create one yourself. What matters is the message that you put inside, and showing your partner that you care.
The bottom line is, if Valentine’s Day is a source of stress for you, try giving your partner an experience instead of trying to buy something. Sharing an experience will create memories for you to look back on, and you both will enjoy the quality time together. Experiences, not gifts, are what make a holiday memorable.