The Exceptionally Ordinary Life

Valentine's Day

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 How to plan for a fun, and painless Valentine’s Day on a Budget

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There is no question that love, and friendship should be celebrated daily. Life, and health are not guaranteed, therefore we should always make sure to tell those we love how important they are to us. That we do not take them for granted. That we cherish every single moment spent together.

It is with that in mind that this Valentine’s Day post is not about what you can, or should buy for one another. It is about how to make the day special, and memorable, even if you are on a budget. Or crazy busy.

How should we celebrate Valentine’s Day?

The best way to do that is by taking care of ourselves first, being understanding of others’ needs, and of course, mindful of our own life circumstances. These could and will have an impact on how we celebrate, whether it is alone with our partners, as a family, or why not? As a single person, who should still spend time and energy taking care of, and loving her/himself.

I’ve come up with a simple idea to make that one day special, which entails a full week of slow preparations, leading up to a stress free Valentine’s Day. And no, making the day special does not mean fancy, cliche, expensive gifts. It means enjoying your time, and just being.

February 14th is a weekday this year but…

Most of us love it when a holiday (yes, even a Hallmark one) falls on a weekend. Or on our day off work. Unfortunately, this is rarely ever possible. That doesn’t mean that we can’t have a nice time. It might just mean you’ll need to get a bit more creative with preparations, and time management.

Decide how you want to celebrate

That is the first step to make it all come together. If you are single, are you spending time alone (Try it! Nothing wrong with loving yourself first 😉 ) Or are you getting together with good friends, and family?

Going solo

In case you are spending the day alone, treat yourself to your favourite meal (including dessert, of course!), read that book you have been dying to read, or treat your body to the wonders of a relaxing bubble bath, a homemade mani/pedi, and of course, a glass of wine (or a beer, because, why not?). Adding your favourite music on your playlist will make your day/night even more fun, and relaxing.

The above are mere suggestions, of course. The important part is to do what makes you happy. And do not forget that the one person you should love the most, is yourself. Show it! There is a huge advantage to these solo-parties: no need to prepare a whole lot. You may just decide what to do on the fly, and still make it amazing.


Those looking to celebrate with their partner in crime, friends, or maybe even their children can certainly make it special, and have a good time. It may require a bit more planning, and you will definitely need to be more strategic with your time, and resources.

Regardless of what your situation is, here are a few other tips to help you prepare in advance for Valentine’s Day.

Clear your calendar of all unnecessary engagements

Let’s be honest. Most of us, if not all, tend to jam pack our schedules, hoping that we will have time to do it all. Truth is though, we know it is almost impossible to achieve. Not because we don’t try, but because the days are only so long.

Starting a week before Valentine’s Day, look at your daily planner with honest eyes. Did you book a play date for every day? Is it possible to postpone that trip to the mall? Could  you possibly re-schedule that trip to the zoo for the weekend after?

I realize that some things are inevitable, but when there is the option, you must focus on what you have to do. Then let go of those other plans that will not impact the end of the world. That way you’ll free up some time for the things that you can’t avoid.

Plan your unavoidable tasks on your calendar

Now for the unavoidable. We all know that re-scheduling a doctor’s appointment could possibly mean not seeing your doctor for 3+ months. So that is definitely a no no. Also, some household chores can’t wait for a week, like cooking dinner, taking the kids to school, and even laundry (if you are anything like me, you know you can’t wait that long!)

Using your calendar or planner, go thru your must-dos and be strategic. A simpler way of running errands will definitely help you manage your time better. And if possible, make sure all family members are on board. Assign chores to others, say no to unnecessary plans, and stay on task.

Take care of regular chores in advance

Valentine’s Day is on a Wednesday this year. If that is your day for doing laundry, and going to the dry cleaner, for example, try moving it up to Tuesday. By rearranging and moving things around, you could possibly free up your Wednesday and enjoy yourself.

Likewise, if you have the chance to move things around at work, like meetings, seeing customers, etc., you will find yourself in a less stressed mindset, and will be able to focus more.

Meal plan in advance for the week

I know this can be really hard for many, but meal planning is a must, Valentine’s Day or not. If you’re one to usually find yourself scrambling around for dinner ideas, then you know how stressful it can be. And to add a middle-of-the-week celebration to it will only make things worse.

Try sitting down for 20-30 minutes the week before Valentine’s Day to take care of this. Using your planner, or calendar, brainstorm dinner ideas, and assign them to each day, including a few extra days after the holiday. That way you won’t go back to be all stressed out about dinner the day after 😉

Aim for simple meals, and if possible, for recipes you can prepare without any extra shopping trips. And of course, include your Valentine’s Day meal plan, no matter how simple or elaborated your plans for the night are. Being organized, and intentional always pays off.

Grocery shop for what you need

Since that grocery store run might be unavoidable, try to make it sooner rather than later. You definitely don’t want to have to run on the same day, and then have to cook.

Just make sure that, meal plan in hand, you create a shopping list, so you don’t forget half the ingredients for that special meal.

Talk to your partner/family about plans for Valentine’s Day

When planning to celebrate with others, it is very important to include them in the preparations as well. If you’re celebrating the day with your partner alone, then pick his/her brain and see what they have in mind. Maybe they’d prefer to go out to eat. Or to the movies. In that case, then all you must do is pretty-up, and enjoy your date!

If you can’t or won’t leave the kids with the sitter, then make sure to include them in your plans (if old enough). After all, they will be with you, and the whole point is to make the day special for everyone.

Make a list of activities you all agree on

Whether you decide to go out, or stay in, be mindful of all people included, even children. That way you can include age-appropriate activities to your day/night, and will make it all more enjoyable.

For example, if your family decides on watching a movie together, do your best to pick one that is appropriate for all, and that all agree on. This might be a bit difficult when children of different ages and stages are involved, but it is certainly doable.

Pre-cook or prepare dishes if possible

I know this isn’t always possible, but there are some dishes that you can prepare in advance. For example, I like to make my lasagna the day before. It helps it “settle” in the fridge, and then on the day we are eating it, we just pull it out, stick in the oven, and voila!

Things like dip, potato salad, and even dessert can be prepared the day before, freeing up some time for other things.

Take care of yourself

It goes without saying, but we all feel much better when we are clean, and look our best. I don’t mean you should dress up, and wear heels, but it certainly helps if you are not wearing the same stained clothes you wore all day.

Take the time to take a shower, shave, trim the beard, and change your clothes. Even for a cozy night in, it feels pretty good to wear “fat pants” that match your top, and your socks, and if there is no body odor to scare people away 😉

Do something for each other.

In preparation for…

Again, it goes without saying that when you don’t have to do it all, the stress is less. Get your family on board. Get them excited about the day, and explain why it is important that they help. It might be harder to explain this to younger children, but you’d be surprised to learn how quickly they catch on the fact that by helping Mommy, and Daddy they get to do more stuff together.

On the day of…

Start cooking, or warming up your meal as soon as you can. Make it the stove’s, or oven’s job, instead of staying stuck in the kitchen. While the food is cooking, enjoy the movies you picked together. Or play board games, put the puzzle together, or color. Even if you have to pause the movie, or stop in the middle of the game. If it is a possibility, leave the TV off, and just enjoy each other’s company, while you talk about everything, and anything.

Once the ball is rolling, and the food is ready, or in process, do your best to be present. This could mean drinking a little less wine, or beer (you don’t want to be passed out drunk, before dessert is served). Or shutting down your computer. Make it a memorable day by showing the ones around you that you want to be with them.

Leave all devices in a different room, yes, even your cellphones. Turn them off, if at all possible to avoid unwanted calls, texts, etc. Or at least, turn them to silent, or vibrate. I realize the people around you are not the only ones you love. But they are present. Make your time with them count.

Not sure where to start planning and organizing? Maybe a pretty pre-made planning sheet is what you need. I always feel more motivated when I have a cute piece of paper, so I made one just for you. Enter your name, and email below to download absolutely FREE! Enjoy

Valentine's Day


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