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The Do's and Don'ts of Enjoying Valentine's Day As a Grown-Up

Photograph by Twenty20

Are you sad that you don't have a special someone to celebrate Valentine's Day with? Annoyed that your partner will yet again let you down when it comes to inferior roses or no breakfast in bed or an absence of a new charm for your Pandora bracelet? Depressed that you failed to come up with super romantic plans, yet again?

Well, snap out of it. Valentine's Day isn't for you.

Your confusion is easy to understand. This time every year stores, restaurants, and magazines (with their never-ending gift guides!) try to convince us that Valentine's Day is about romance.

But it's not.

Nobody feels romantic in the dead of winter, right after Super Bowl Sunday. Nobody wants to shop for gifts so soon after Christmas. Nobody ever likes Valentine's Day prix fixe meals. The only thing that Valentine's Day is appropriate for is eating candy, scribbling on colorful pieces of paper and trading little piece-of-crap toys made in China.

That's why Valentine's Day is for kids.

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That's not to say that you, as an adult, can't enjoy Valentine's Day. I happen to think Valentine's Day is fun, myself, but it's because I celebrate it exactly the same way I did with my parents when I was a child. I send them cards and they send me cards (sometimes I get like $10 in the card, too—score!) I hang up festive streamers in the house because it's February in Chicago and I need a little something fun to look at. I give my son a little present the way my parents did to me.

And my husband and me? We eat heart-shaped pizza and avoid touching each other as much as possible. By lowering your expectations to that of a small child, the holiday can actually be kind of fun.

The more you think about Valentine's Day as a mild diversion and excuse for a few extra hugs and treats and less as a mandate about adult love, the more you will enjoy it as a holiday.

If you hate Valentine's Day, consider celebrating it like a kid with the following tips:

DON'T put on sexy lingerie

DO pull out your least-stained pink or red sweatshirt (or socks or undies)

DON'T spend a lot of money on a fancy gourmet dessert

DO treat yourself to a heart-shaped Reese's peanut butter cup

DON'T make reservations at a nice restaurant or bother with making a big meal you're going to have to clean up

DO order in whatever food you like best

DON'T bust out an expensive bottle of champagne

DO bust out an okay bottle of any other booze and save the champagne for another day

DON'T buy your loved one an expensive gift

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DO buy him or her a packet of stickers. Everyone likes stickers!

DON'T feel sorry for yourself if you don't have a partner or plans this February 14th

DO eat some cookies and send someone you love a Spider-Man Valentine

The more you think about Valentine's Day as a mild diversion and excuse for a few extra hugs and treats and less as a mandate about adult love, the more you will enjoy it as a holiday. Even if you don't have kids, seeing it through the eyes of an easily-distracted, relatively-unspoiled-by-neurosis child will help you see Valentine's Day for what it really is—a way to kill a day until it's time to go to bed.

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