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

Updated Jan 30 2019
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?!

    • I like Valentine's Day too! I love the colors and get to bake something yummy for other people! It brightens up February a little bit.

  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 totally understand the concerns about the commercialization of affection, and especially the fucked up gender pressures — BOY MUST BUY SHIT FOR GIRL OR HE IS AN ASSHOLE.

      • Oh, same here, totally. It's really disgusting. But I say what you say, fuck all that and make it fun! Don't buy into that crap.

      • One of the running jokes between me and my partner is "The TV tells me you need to buy me diamonds or else you don't love me."

    • 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).

  10. Anyone else thinking Gilderoy Lockhart? πŸ˜›
    (Harry Potter reference. Prof Lockhart goes a little all-out with Valentine's day)

    • 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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?

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. Even though my hubby is deployed on Valentines' Day, we never really celebrated it, anyway πŸ˜› But I did send him a shit ton of pink and glitter and candy πŸ™‚ And a copy of Tangled to watch togetherrr ^__^

    And how often do we get Reese's shaped like HEARTS? Uhhhh not often. Omnomnom.

  20. YES, thank god.

    I know it can sometimes be fun to be a grumpus, but to me, any excuse for PARTY TIMES and theme food = woooooooo hooooo!

    Any excuse to be happy I will fucking take. πŸ˜€

  21. My partner and I work in the restaurant industry. For us, Valentine's Day is "LoveYouGottaGoToWorkHaveANiceDay" followed by grueling hours of making disgusting amounts of money (for him at least, I'm salary when I'm working) and then "OMGHowWasYourDayCan'tTalkSleepingZzzzzzzz"

    Our Date-iversary is two days before so we just kinda celebrate the whole thing whenever we have days off around then. The nice thing we've discovered about dating someone in the industry is that not only do they understand when you have to work on holidays and can't take days off for anniversaries sometimes is that the other one probably has to work too so it doesn't matter! Christmas on January 5? Fine. Birthday a week late? Whatevs. That's life, right?

    As a kid it was totally the culture to celebrate our friends for valentine's day. I'm not sure at what age that became "offbeat" but it certainly has. So sad. This is a nice set of ideas to bring it back πŸ™‚

  22. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Valentines day.

    it's my second favorite holiday. My mom and I has always given each other little trinkets.It started when I was super duper young. Red, pink or white things only. She is the one who has made this holiday so special.

  23. Be really subversive and attend a V-day event to support vaginas everywhere! V-day is about ending violence against women and girls!! Here is the link to find events in your area (this is global!):
    My favorite is usually Vagina Monologues and any treat fashioned to resemble a vag.

  24. Those are great ideas! I especially like the line "If you don't like what the media is telling you to do, stop listening". So true.
    Can't wait to spend a fun Valentine's day with my bf. Like Britt above me commented, haters gonna hate. XD

  25. yes! this has always been my take on valentine's day. i once participated in a valentine's swap where i sent mix cds of cute love songs and this message:

    Valentine's Day is a day for love… but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it if you're single! Everyone has love in their lives – from beloved friends and family to your favorite foods, favorite colors, favorite anything! Use this day to truly celebrate everything you love!

    5 Fun Things To Do On Valentine's Day!

    1} Wear your favorite outfit – be it a full-length prom dress or comfy pajamas – everywhere you go

    2} Write love letters. These can be addressed to significant others, secret crushes, good friends, family members, or even celebrities! Anyone you wanna show a little love.

    3} Learn to cook your favorite food. If you already know, cook it for someone else!

    4} Sing. Anytime, anywhere, all day. Suggested: sappy love songs, ideally by Air Supply. Serenades get bonus points.

    5}Spend some extra time showering love on your pet! Pick up a new toy or some kind of treat – play, snuggle, let them know what day it is!

  26. Awww this is such a great post, thank you!!! I am too late to get this going for this V-day, but next V-day for sure! Even though I'm in a relationship, V-day for me was always about getting little cinnamon hearts from my parents, and giving and receiving those cheesy cards from classmates back in the day. What a great idea to carry that over as an adult towards friends and just people in our life. And I don't at all dig the anti-valentine day parties, it just makes people seem bitter about being single, when it doesn't even have to be about having a partner or not! πŸ™‚

  27. I grew up in a family where we celebrated Valentine's Day as a family holiday, this coupled with my love of all things Victorian starting around age 9 or so has left me puzzled by the negative attitudes around me come V-day.

    I love breaking out the doilies and pretty paper and crafty stuff to make Valentines for all the people I love, baking treats to share at work (when I'm employed) AND day after candy sales X)

    Recognizing love in all its forms is something we don't spend enough time doing! And I super love holidays too 8)

  28. YES! This is my Valentine's Day tradition. Making ridiculous homemade cards from whatever left-over craft supplies I have in the house. I did break down and buy doilies last year. But otherwise, time to get crafty with whatever is on hand. I send them to immediate family and people I know who need a virtual hug in the doldrums of mid-February. Widowed aunt, grandparents, cousins away at college, etc. It's a long dark stretch from New Years 'till Easter/Spring. Everyone can use some brightly colored construction paper, bad puns, and a reminder that someone loves them.

  29. For the past couple of years I've handed out the cheesy kid's Valentine's Day cards to everyone in my single's Toastmasters club. I love walking up to someone with a Sponge Bob Square Pants card (totally not my style) that says something goofy and wish the reciepent a Happy Valentine's Day!

    I've also hosted a V-Day dinner for the club at a hopefully-not-too-busy restaurant so that we can have a big table for the group. There is usually a guy or two who will be chocolates or flowers for the women and we have a good dinner (separate checks), good conversation, and a good time. I also encourage others to bring their friends – no one needs to be alone on Valentine's Day and this group of friends is such that newcomers are welcomed and included without a second thought.

    It feels good to do these things for myself and others!

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