The best thing about Valentine's Day is that it really can mean whatever you want it to. Like most women, I've spent many a V-day single, and plenty as part of a couple. And I've had great (and not-great) experiences whether I was with someone or not. In fact, some of my fondest memories are Valentine's Days spent with the women who were in my life at the time. Since it's a holiday that most don't really travel for, I've had fiestas with a random cohort of book-club friends, co-workers and gym pals — the women who lived me and were in my life at the time.
There is seriously no reason to feel badly about this holiday, which at its core is about love — the love you share with family, friends, and your romantic partner, if you have one. Why not celebrate that very essential part of being human by throwing a party with your favorite women and friends? Since the most recent research has shown that gratitude actually affects our health (the more grateful we are, the healthier), Valentine's Day can be an excellent time to show the ones you love how you feel about them. Just ask everyone to bring a delicious dish, and if you cover the three items below, you'll have a lovely evening.
Try these simple tricks for a fun, grateful Valentine's Party:
Go floral with your decor: It's the middle of the winter, and unless you've gotten to enjoy a tropical vacay recently, you might be in the mood for some fresh floral decadence. There's just something about being surrounded by flowers that can't help but brighten the mood, and honestly, lovely flowers are all the decoration you need (plus, you'll get to enjoy them after the party!). Look for locally grown flowers — many florists have nearby greenhouses that supply them with less-exotic blooms, or order from Organic Bouquet — both are good options for more eco-friendly flowers.
Make a pink punch: This recipe from Martha Stewart is easy but still sophisticated, and perfect for a group.
1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
1 cup pear nectar
1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
1 bottle (750 ml) Champagne
In a large pitcher, combine pomegranate juice, pear nectar and orange-flavored liqueur. Slowly add Champagne. Serve over ice.
Get crafty: Break out some red, pink and white construction paper and make Valentines! You can use recycled materials, magazines, buttons and other decorations if you want, or keep it simple. Make them for oneself, friends, and family by answering the question, "What am I most grateful to this person — or myself — for?" This is not only fun and thoughtful, but stimulates great conversation.
Dessert, you ask? Keep it simple by picking up some organic dark and milk chocolate bars (my faves are Madecasse, Endangered Species and Theo, which all make wonderful fair-trade versions) and breaking them into chunks on a pretty plate.
Also on MNN: Get more V-Day ideas and recipes