Valentines Day kinda has me conflicted.
On the one hand it’s a heteronormative, hella commercialised non-“holiday” designed to squeeze even more money out of you six weeks after Christmas (and mere days before the birthdays of my two best friends – how inconsiderate). And I can’t think of anything much more demoralising to those not paired off in a way deemed satisfactory by society, than supermarket aisles festooned in red and pink during what are already some of the most depressing weeks of the year…
On the other hand, all my favourite companies are bringing out heart-shaped and cotton candy scented ranges and I bloody live for that shit.
On our first Valentines Day together, Stringer and I went to see this band called The Hold Steady play their first Glasgow show: it was, as I believe they say, love. Beyond that? We’ve never really bothered. Sure, he’ll sneak a cake past my sneer (sorry, but the wind changed some time in 2009 and my face stuck like this); or, assuming the day falls on Ash Wednesday again, buy my fish supper (Catholic relationship #goals!). But we’re both the type whose hackles go up at the thought of mandated romantic gestures.
Which is why, when the shops are filled with glorious tat, I’d rather spend this most romantic time of year celebrating the most important relationship in my life: the one with myself. Bonus: you don’t have to be part of a couple to do it, and since I’m posting this way later than I intended you might even be able to do it for half the price.
1. The chocolates
As loves of my life go, chocolate has been the most reliable: there as a quick pick-me-up or luxurious treat and rarely, if ever, a disappointment. Master chocolatiers Hotel Chocolat really come into their own in the weeks between Valentines Day and Easter, and their sleek foil boxes and indulgent chocolates never fail to set my heart a-flutter.
The Blushing Hearts* (similar) really ought to be a year-round treat: a selection of filled chocolate hearts, just the right thickness for a satisfying bite into a filled centre of vanilla, pecan or – my personal favourite – salted caramel. Perfectly portioned for one, so you won’t want to share.
2. The flowers
Flowers were an early casualty of my youthful Cool Girl posturing. Why, I’d say to ex-boyfriends, would I want you to spend all that money on something so beautiful that is only going to die in 5-7 days? The upshot of such posturing, of course, is that it’s a very rare occasion that somebody buys me flowers. And yet, they cheer me up like little else, especially during the gloomiest times of the year.
And that’s why I don’t think you should wait for anybody else to buy you flowers! The prominent role they play in the traditional Valentines Day narrative means that buying yourself a bouquet is the ultimate act of self-love – and a slightly daring one at that. I love Bloom & Wild for their letterbox-friendly blooms, perfect if nobody’s going to be home to sign for a delivery; and local loves Mud Urban Flowers for show-stopping, seasonal blooms in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Both of these offer subscription options too which means you can order, forget and then surprise yourself with a regular treat.
(Incidentally, Bloom & Wild did some research for Valentines Day which claimed to show that Scotland was the UK’s least loving region, which all the more reason to show your appreciation for your favourite person, I reckon.)
3. The smellies
Now, some columns on this topic will attempt to convince you that sharing a bath with a loved one is the ultimate in romantic sexytimes. Personally, I cannot think of anything less sexy than attempting to squeeze two adult human bodies into a standard-sized bathtub, so there will be none of that here.
Lush always manages to knock it out of the park for Valentines Day, but this year was a different class entirely: the lemon sherbet-scented Love Boat bath bomb, which left a trail of heart-shaped confetti in its (literal) wake was my favourite, but the moisturising Whole Lotta Love bubbleroon and returning lavender-scented Unicorn Horn were also up there in the too-good-to-share charts. Add a Rosy Cheeks face mask, which isn’t from the Valentine line but contains seasonally appropriate Turkish rose oil, for full-on pampering bliss.
4. The smalls
Gorgeous underwear is the ultimate in self-love. We all know by now that I’m not the best at dressing for an office environment – but if you do have to spend your days dressing outwardly for other people, there’s nothing like wearing some beautiful, flattering underwear underneath to give you a secret confidence boost. The Valentines retail gods suggest that we should leave the selection of such things up to a partner – but when we women can’t even get our own bra sizes right, why should we trust anybody else?
The internet has done wonders for us buxom types. Long gone are the days of trying to squeeze into something at M&S or face inflated prices at the one high street name able to cater to our figures: now, we have the likes of Brastop offering a wide range of brands and styles in a D-K cup. I was introduced to Brastop via a targeted Facebook ad, because I am a marketer’s dream – though the bikini I purchased that day remains my most-liked Instagram post ever, just about, so they’re clearly doing something right.
At a mere £23 for this lacy Flirtelle set*, Brastop means gorgeous underwear can be for every day – not just Valentines day. And who can argue with that?
This post contains PR samples, but all views are my own and unbiased.