The Day That Strikes Fear in the Hearts of Men...

I'm talking about Valentine's Day, of course!

It's a horrible, horrible thing we do to the men in our lives...so horrible, in fact, that in my house, we don't go all out on February 14th like most couples do. Although, I should add that there's another reason. I don't like Valentine's Day. I don't like being forced into feeling like I *should* be in love. I didn't like it when I was single, and I still don't like it now.

So...instead of dinner and roses, Eric and I wish each other a Happy Valentine's Day but feel no pressure to love each other any more than any other day of the year." I like it this way, because it gives a nod to this holiday that I used to hate hate hate, and at the same time doesn't feel like a huge dramatic thing that we *must* do or else we obviously have to end our relationship.

To that end, I give you Ten Ways to Show Your Love on Valentine's Day...Or Any Other Day...Without Making It a Thing.  I know it doesn't rhyme. But just go with it. :)

1) Write a note. I know. It sounds lame. But I find that when you've been in a relationship for a while, you tend to forget to tell your partner about all the things (s)he does that are awesome and make you love them that little bit more. Also, the love letter is a wonderful thing (I like to sneak it into Eric's coat pocket, so he finds it during the day). So, here's my theory: February 14th is as good a day as any to expound on your partner's fabulousness. Of course, April 3rd is good, too. Or June 25th. Or any other of the 364 days in the year.

2) Rent a shoot-em-up. At some point, someone said Valentine's Day movies are supposed to be love stories and you're supposed to be all date-y...but the truth is, that's only fun if it's fun for *both* of you. Instead, buy tickets to something you both want to see. Or rent something that's not lovey-dovey, but is fun anyway (I recommend The A-Team. Also, The Italian Job). Order pizza. Buy the Jumbo Popcorn. And have fun without feeling so pressured to be in love.

3) Get milkshakes. This happens to be my Valentine's Day tradition. And by "my" I mean the singular, "my." When I was in college, all my single friends would do milkshakes on V-day. When I was out of college, we kept up the tradition for years--even though many of us had boyfriends. Once we started getting married, husbands got to come along. Going out for milkshakes is old-fashioned and fun. For added cuteness, get one milkshake and two straws.

4) Cook dinner. Don't get crazy and go out of your comfort zone...we're not making this a thing, remember? But make something you both enjoy tonight. What's your partner's favorite? That's the thing you should make. More importantly, you should eat it together. Not in front of the TV or with your kids screaming like banshees. And if your kids' bansheeing cannot be stopped...may I suggest a little something for dessert to eat after they go to bed? Try these SUPER simple chocolate lava cakes...which you can premake and just throw in the oven before you want to eat!

5) Go old school. Get a box of Necco Sweethearts. Do your thing all day, have a normal, nothing special night. And then, while you're cuddled on the couch, rock the "Be Mine." For a naughtier ending to this scenario, get some Adult Conversation Hearts...

6) Smooch. This one is self-explanatory. But quality smooching time is a terrific gift in the middle of a busy February.

7) Make a plan to be in love on another day of the year. I know...this is a wild and crazy idea...but instead of Valentine's Day, with it's forced roses and it's overpriced dinners, what about planning a date night for another time? How about March 1st? Or April 12th? I bet it's easier to get a sitter...and you'll have something lovely to look forward to! My suggestion? Cuddle up on the couch on V-day and make your plans for You-day. That's "you" in the plural.

8) Take a walk. Yes, I know it's February, and all signs point to this being the longest, coldest winter ever in the history of winters...and yes, it's probably snowing RIGHT NOW...but sometimes, taking a walk, even in the snow, even in the cold, is as romantic as it gets. You're outside, together, talking...and when you stop on the corner before crossing that street, or to admire the way the snow is falling through the light from the streetlamp...it's just a perfect moment.

9) Those three little words. Sure, you say them. Plenty. But how about calling your partner up in the middle of the day and telling him/her out of the blue? Just because you thought about it? Can't take calls at work? Text, email...or write a little note and time-stamp it. This is a good one to remember every day. Don't ever skimp on telling someone you love them. It feels great to hear it when you're least expecting it.

10) Smooch. I know, I know, I already said this one. But it bears repeating, don't you think?

There you have it! Ten ways to celebrate with your sweetie without going overboard on February 14th...or any other day of the year. Do you have something to add? A mellow gift/experience for the 14th? Leave it in comments, and one lucky commenter will win an eARC of Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart! I'll pick the winner on February 15th!

And for more V-day festivity and the next stop on the Avon Ladies Valentine's Day ring, head over to Katy Madison's house!