Get over hating Valentine’s Day, and start culture jamming

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Get over hating Valentine's Day, and start culture jamming
Photo by Helena Lopes

Oh, Valentine’s Day. It’s not just the single people who hate Valentine’s Day (“the holiday designed to make me feel lonely”) — it’s the people with sweethearts, too (“the holiday designed to force me into contrived expressions of romance”).

Well, I have one thing to say about Valentine’s Day: STOP WHINING AND START CULTURE JAMMING. Valentine’s Day is NOT about buying things and it’s not even about romantic love — it’s about getting out the construction paper, doilies, and glue stick to make embarrassing cards (full of AWFUL PUNS!) for your friends. It is NOT about having a girl/boyfriend or buying chocolate unless you watch too much TV and believe what you’re told.

If you don’t like what the media is telling you to do, then stop listening. Get out the glue, glitter, and red paper and start showing everyone how much you love them. Grumpy old neighbors, the cute girl working your grocery check-out, the mail man, your barista…I’m sure they would all be tickled pink to get some home-made Valentine love.

So stop whining and get to work! Let’s take a look at some inspiration for some totally homemade, slightly subversive papercrafts and other Valentine’s day goodies you can make for all your favorite, non-fucking, platonically awesome people:

For your bff, with a note about getting “felt up”:

Photo by Nest of Posies. Click here for the tutorial!
Photo by Nest of Posies. Click here for the tutorial!

For your greasemonkey friends:

Photo by 30 Handmade Days. Click here for the tutorial!
Photo by 30 Handmade Days. Click here for the tutorial!

For your inspiring lady-friends, courtesy of Heather Champ (read her explanation!)

Photo courtesy of Heather Champ.

Leave some matches in there for the stoner buddies. ONLY 9 WEEKS ‘TIL 4/20, DUDES!

Photo courtesy of inchmark. Click here for the tutorial!
Photo courtesy of inchmark. Click here for the tutorial!

Sew some goodies into wax paper for your neighbor or bus driver or barista:

Photo courtesy of The Wilson World. Click here for tutorial!
Photo courtesy of The Wilson World. Click here for tutorial!

So, who’s ready to celebrate a super-crafty, totally platonic, culturally-subversive Valentine’s day with me? HMM?!

Comments on Get over hating Valentine’s Day, and start culture jamming

  1. I think Valentine’s Day is great! I don’t get why people (ahem, my boyfriend) get their knickers in a twist over it. Why shouldn’t we celebrate love? What’s wrong with expressing some romance? Also, I love pink, red, and glitter…

    • I am so there with you. Even when I was single and feeling sad and piney, I usually loved V-Day – though it may be a function of my love of things covered in hearts. I love making holiday-themed food.

  2. Oh. My. God! Finally people who understand what I think of valentines days. I was begining to think I might be the only one. I may have to steal some of these ideas, totally gorgeous! ‘Specially the matchboxes and the wax paper heart. Love it! All of it!

  3. I used to hate Valentine’s Day, but a local artist used to put handmade valentines, tissue paper flowers in bottles, garlands, and mix CDs all over the local train stations. It was just what you wanted to see on a bleary, soggy February morning!

  4. I went through quite a few Valentine’s when I was single. So I decided to take it back. I bought goofy kids’ cards and gave them out to my friends. I even gave them to dorm roommates one year and got some adorably tiny origami stars from one girl. It’s nice to just have fun with it. I’ve also done handmade cards. Also, why not give cards to people why could use them? All those people who need that reminder that this is a chance to have some fun and enjoy love in all its forms. πŸ™‚

  5. When I was single and living on my own for the first time, I thought of Valentine’s Day as a time to treat myself. I’d dress up in clothes that made me feel beautiful, take myself out to a nice restaurant to eat, accompanied by a good book of course, and finish with a gorgeous dessert. Then I’d head home and have a long hot bath with some goodies from Lush, and maybe a glass of wine or tea before bed.

    Now that I’m married, I feel a bit guilty that my husband feels that he has to buy me something for Valentine’s, then for my birthday two days later! (Of course, it evens out in August, when our anniversary and his birthday fall in the same week.)

    • This is exactly what I would do! mostly stay at home and eat ALL of my favorite, easy-to-prepare things, take a looooong bubblebath while watching (from a safe distance, obviously) a black and white romantic movie, while also drinking champagen and eating choclate. I’m pretty sure I will be doing the same thing this year, even though I AM married now…

    • I used to do that, too! Although I generally would come up several of my favorite foods and order them as take-out. (And making sure I looked GOOD was key, to make sure that any men I encountered would feel like fools for not asking me out β€” ha!) And if I happened to have single friends living in the vicinity at the time, I’d invite them to join me. Now that I’m married, I’m happy to say that my husband has a similar attitude toward it β€” we recognize the day, but not in the clichΓ©d mushy ways TV and movies are telling us to. So, for example, this year our Valentine’s date will be to see an 11:00a.m. showing of the new Die Hard movie. πŸ˜‰

  6. I totally agree with everything in this post! I’ve always liked Valentine’s Day and used it as a time to give cards and flowers to my friends and family – I’m excited to make little Valentines fairy wands for my nieces (who are almost 3!) this year.
    I’m currently figuring out how to celebrate Valentines Day with my co-workers in a work-appropriate way – I’m thinking I’ll make neutral sort of Valentines-ish cupcakes and leave them out for everyone to enjoy. πŸ™‚

    • I’ve made rice krispy treats with red and pink sprinkles cut into heart shapes for work and they were a hit 8) (you just smoosh them into a more shallow layer in the pan (bigger pan than called for) and use cookie cutters to cut the hearts)

  7. I love Valentine’s Day. But not for the reason people think you’re supposed to love Valentine’s Day. I think of it as an excuse to try out new treat recipes!! Every year for Valentine’s dinner I make Red Velvet Pancakes, and one treat. Last year was Baked Red Velvet Donuts with Vanilla Glaze. This year I think I might make Valentine M&M Monster cookies.

  8. My Dad was a teacher and every year for Valentine’s Day at school when they had those stupid “send someone you love a flower for a dollar” he would send me and my sisters flowers. I was bummed and embarrassed at the time, but now I realize how sweet it was.

    I always send my best girl friends digital valentines photoshopped with this Candy Heart Generator:

    Thanks for inspiring me!

  9. Since being with my now-husband, we have had a V-Day tradition of avoiding the fancy restaurants and such and instead opting for a delicious homemade dinner of some of our favorite things, often eaten in pajamas or underoos (or sometimes birthday suits – hey it’s a day of romance). If there is something going on that we want to do, we do it.

    Though we’ve done gifts in the past, last year we were planning our wedding, so I suggested we skip the gifts to save the money for our wedding. This year I am unemployed (and have been for longer than hoped for/anticipated), so I requested we do the same and skip gifts. We have made gifts, however: For romantic-occasions past, he has made me origami flowers and duct tape flowers, and last year I made him a silly card using a Cricut machine he’d given me one year for Xmas.

    Even though the above are things I did with my romantic partner, I think any of those things can be done with friends (except naked dinner, unless you and your friends are down with that).

    • Yeah, I’m hiring dwarfs to dress up as cupids and serenade all my friends with bad lyrics this year. If my friends don’t listen, the dwarf cupids will sit on their knees! I get all my ideas from Gilderoy. He’s just marvelous!

  10. This reminds me that my now-husband and I have a tradition of trying new recipes for Valentine’s Day. The past two years we included family as well, and it’s always fun and definitely delicious. It’s an excuse for us to branch from our normal go-to recipes.

  11. Ok, this very platonic idea started out in my family (everyone in my fam had their own room/door) and caught on FAST in my dorm during college.

    A few days before Valentine’s day, everyone gets together and decorates paper lunch bags (white are best but even plain brown ones work just fine) with construction paper heart cut-outs and magic markers and glitter and all the stuff listed in the post. πŸ™‚ Then each person hangs their bag on their door (or leaves it on their desk, or whatever is appropriate). For the next few days, people secretly leave little cut-outs or valentines or candy or messages in the bags for everyone. Then on Valentine’s day everyone gets to finally look in their bag and eat the candy and read the messages.

    Mostly, it’s the decorating that’s fun, but it’s kinda exciting to see things piling up in the bag without knowing exactly what it is. πŸ™‚

    On a different note, I used to love hating V-day. I would wear black and be all broody and say how it was a gruesome day because it was the day St. Valentine was MURDERED. (Not sure if that’s true, but I def thought it was.) It was fun!

  12. OH OH OH! Also adorable idea from my mom:

    Cut out a symmetrical heart from paper by folding in half and cutting half a heart. Make it mouse-shaped when it’s folded in half. Attach (glue/tape) a strand of pink yarn to the top middle inside of the folded heart. While the heart is still folded in half, draw eyes and a nose and whiskers on the tip of the heart, so that the whole thing really does look like a cute little mouse. leave it folded, and then when the recipient opens it it’s in the shape of a heart and we always wrote this on the inside: “This little guy is coming your way, to wish you a happy Valentine’s day!” I will try to find pictures, or make one and take new pictures!

  13. These are some absolutely delightful ideas. (I particularly like the sewn felt envelopes!) For people who want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but in an Offbeat way, they sound great.

    I’m not sure if I’d call them culture jamming or subversive, though; they’re still perpetrating the idea of celebrating Valentine’s Day as the holiday of Give People Stuff to Prove You Like Them. I would love to see people’s ideas to truly subvert the culture of material affection. (My first idea was to slip these cards into boxes of candy at the grocery store: ) Thoughts?

  14. I kinda like V-day, especially now that it’s V-day and since I decided that I would not BUY anything for it (other than some candy for my kids) or do anything out of a sense of obligation. And ever since a colleague and I started the Bad Love Poetry Slam at the high school I was then-teaching at, which we held on Valentine’s Day. (We were both divorcing and trying not to be too bitter.) Made a day that’s awful for some teenagers into a fun one. And for us, too.

    Just might do some of these great ideas. Only because I want to, not have to. Thanks–

    • “bad love poetry slam”! oh yes, i know some teenagers who need to know about this.

      my romantical history with valentines is slim to none.

      it always makes me think of my dad. my dad is, um, not what you would call sappy. but he always did up valentines for both me and my mom – he even sent me stuffed animals and candy when i was in college (nevermind the time he filled mom’s car with balloons while she was at work =). so i can’t really help but think fondly of it, but i also don’t think of it as a sexy/romantic holiday.

  15. You’re right, Valentine’s Day isn’t about buying chocolate. The day AFTER Valentine’s is about buying chocolate.

    …I love me some cheap chokkit.

    • That’s why I got the idea to get married a day or two after Valentine’s day, so my partner and I could buy each other cheap chocolate for our anniversary.

    • So so true. After every chocolate-related holiday (Halloween, Christmas, Valentines, Easter…) I go down to Hotel Chocolat (very fancy, very tasty chocolate place in the UK) and buy up TONS of stuff.

      It helps that our anniversary is a week later, so there’s no need to do Valentine’s at all.

      What I would say, though, if there’s something awesome on, do it anyway! I went to a screening of “Brief Encounter” with free chocolate and champagne a few years ago, that was fantastic. And definitely the sort of thing I would love at any time of year.

  16. I love the first handmade envelopes. Just adorable!

    My better half is a very laid back guy: khakis, t-shirt, hat, period. Valentine’s day has always been an excuse for both of us to get all dressed-up and do something fun. I <3 Valentine's Day. πŸ™‚ Haters gonna hate!

  17. I love Valentine’s Day. My husband and I switch off each year planning our Valentine’s Day together, because the pressure shouldn’t always be on the dude to be romantic, and I really love the chance to plan romance. This year is his year.

    A few years ago, I started sending homemade valentines to everybody in my address book. I don’t usually send out holiday cards, but I love the tradition that everyone deserves a valentine. I try to keep my designs away from two-things-in-love-being-cutesy, so it doesn’t send a message of exclusion, which would be the opposite of why I send out the darn things in the first place. This year I’m also hosting a homemade valentine-making party at my house, which I’m super excited about. I’ve also made my husband a very elaborate valentine each year. I guess I just really love celebrating without spending money on the Hallmark Holiday aspect of the whole thing.

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