No, stop it. Stop bitching. Valentine’s Day is undoubtedly a meaningless, cynical, over-commercialised anxiety-fest designed to shame singles, destroy relationships, and put a good proportion of your hard-earned dollar into the sweaty palms of soulless businessmen, but it’s a thing. It happens. It’s here. And you’re just going to have to learn to deal with it.

Look, we aren’t without sympathy. Getting it right – special but not sentimental, luxurious but not excessive, authentic but not clichéd – is tough. Whatever the deeply dubious origins of this occasion, the 21st century V-Day is quite simply an excuse to have fun, feel loved and inject a little bit of fragrant pleasure into the chilly cesspit that is February. So, whether you’re a committed him, a loved-up her or a shackle-free citizen of either sex, here’s what you should do to make sure you actually enjoy yourself on Friday.

Valentines

Him

Yes, she’ll tell you not to buy her something. No, she doesn’t mean it. Start the day by bringing her breakfast in bed. Make some Dark Side Porridge, created by London blogger Porridge Lady, but swap the double cream for 0% Greek yoghurt and add some chia seeds to demonstrate extra thought. Deliver it with a cup of TWG Valentine Breakfast loose-leaf tea and a tasteful card; a card is as important, if not more so, than a present. For something original, try Ohh Deer, a collective founded to act as a platform for independent illustrators and artists – no jokes or smut, please. List five reasons why you love her inside, and include the time at which you will expect her home for dinner.

Yes, you’re going to cook in – watching other couples flutter doe-eyes and twine fingers while you max out your credit card is the ultimate turn off. Also, you’ll be closer to bed. Just make sure you get home with enough time to prepare. Light a Diptyque Rosa Mundi candle and arrange a big bunch of spring flowers – we love the Spring Harvest bouquet from Moyses Flowers (roses and deliveries are for mugs).

Welcome her at the door with a kiss and a classic martini, much classier than sour-breath fizz – just follow these instructions from Sipsmith. The food must be sexy but simple; you want to be suave and relaxed, not stressed about timings or so stuffed you can’t move. Pick at a pile of fresh figs and San Daniele, then whip up a spicy, slippery spaghetti puttanesca, aka tarts’ pasta – a touch of wit is nice. Lubricate with a moreish red such as Brindisi Reserva ‘1952‘ and finish with a plate of Paul A Young’s Valentine’s brownies with chipotle chilli and sea salt caramel. Find all the necessary recipes and ingredients on the website of delivery service Hubbub; with one click they’ll source the relevant products from independent local suppliers and zoom it straight to your doorstep.

Finally, time for the gift. Avoid jewellery and lingerie (naff), but stick with something that will make her feel special every day – such as a unique British-made bag. Our top two choices would be a personalised Cambridge Satchel Company mini satchel in new-season baby pink, or a digital print portfolio clutch from Manchester School of Art graduate Rianna Phillips – we love the Limited Edition Spiked Juliette.

Her

A card-carrying feminist? Excellent. Then you simply can’t leave all the Valentines effort up to him; equality’s equality, sweetheart. So on waking, plant him with a massive kiss and give him your home-made card (suck it up, they secretly love that shit; Pinterest is full of excellent inspiration).

Next: plan your outfit. He has told you he’s cooking at home, so wear an ensemble that will make you feel fabulous all day and won’t require an awkward outfit-change in the bedroom when you get back. Note: this is not the day to go high-fashion, and please avoid red or pink. A sleek Joseph leather pencil skirt, a pretty mint-green Miu Miu cropped cashmere jumper and some fuck-me Burberry python shoe-boots will look elegant for work and create instant impact when you knock on your own front door. Red lipstick may feel requisite, but actually most blokes aren’t that enamoured; you’re paranoid about face-smudge, they’re paranoid about their shirt. Instead, give your eyes a smoky boost by adding some Bobbi Brown Kajal Liner in Black Amethyst.

When it comes to the evening, please, please, momentarily ditch whatever stupid 5:2, no-sugar diet to which you’re currently enslaved. Moderation involves the occasionally burst of immoderation, and there’s nothing less sexy than a grown woman messing about with her plate. Get him a present, but make it an experience not a thing. A butchery class from The Ginger Pig or a mixology masterclass at 69 Colebrooke Row will give him skills that will make you love him that little bit more for years to come.

You

Eating out, even if it’s with a gang of wonderful mates, will make you feel ridiculous. Staying in will make you feel miserable, even if you pretend it won’t. This is a day to celebrate, not ignore, your aloneness. With all the Oscar movies clamouring for your attention, that can only mean one thing: a solo visit to a luxury cinema. Settle into the Aubin Cinema in East London for a preview of the ravishing new grown-up vampire flick Only Lovers Left Alive with a blanket, cushions, whisky on the rocks and their dark choc edamame beans (yes, really); you’ll be your own dream date.

And please, get yourself a loving gift. Single men should indulge in a brilliantly extravagant Comme des Garçons’ leather iPad case in take-on-the-world spring green. For single women, Elkin’s Power Ballad bracelets, with rose-gold skulls, are divine. Layered en masse with different coloured bands, they make the perfect armour for your one true lifelong amor: yourself.

 

Words: Molly Flatt

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