There's only one day on the calendar given over to romance – St Valentine's Day. Here's how not to make a mess of things.
This day is meant for spoiling the one you love and for doing things that would look more than a bit ridiculous any other day of the year. And it doesn't have to cost you a fortune – few people can spend thousands on jewellery, so chill.
But rather do nothing at all, than any of the following:
No planning. It's a day for romance, and if you're lucky, quite a bit more. But just because it's Valentine's Day, doesn't mean you can throw all your rules about safe sex out the window.
Send the secretary You have forgotten about Valentine's Day, until you arrived at the office and saw other people's flowers and balloons for Saturday. You send your personal assistant out with R200 in the lunch hour to get something on the double. Women - and men – know when a gift has no personal flavour to it. These gifts have that secondhand, last-minute air to them.
Explicit cards. If you are sure that the person to whom you are sending a very explicit card will find it funny, it can probably do no harm. But do make sure – she/he might not share your sense of humour. And if it's a colleague or someone from your social circle, they might just actually think you're quite weird and a bit sick and definitely to be avoided in the future.
Wilting flowers. February is hot, and flowers that have been out of water in the boiling sun at the traffic lights for much of the day, have reached the end of their natural lifespan. Giving someone a bunch of wilted red roses is definitely worse than giving them nothing at all.
A quick e-mail. What this message actually says is, "I forgot about St Valentine's Day and when I got to work, I thought a quick e-mail may do the trick to get you off my neck." Unless you're sending a poem or an invitation to a mystery outing, don't go down this road.
A cheap family restaurant. Valentine's Day is about making someone feel special. The local steakhouse or Chinese takeaway is unlikely to do that. If you can't afford an expensive restaurant, farm the kids out (if you have any) and cook a special meal at home. And wash up afterwards.
Over-the-top gift. Buying a very expensive gift you cannot afford, places your Valentine in a difficult position. Gifts are nice to receive, but not if the recipient knows it's going to cause financial stress. Give only what won't make the other person feel obligated and/or guilty.
Here Kitty, Kitty. A pet is not an ideal gift, unless you are absolutely sure that it is what your Valentine is looking for. Pets are expensive to maintain and deserve good and loving care on an ongoing basis. Many pets that are given as presents, end up as strays and become the problem of animal welfare organisations. Have a little compassion before farming out pets.
Unwanted gifts. Don't do a last-minute recycling of unwanted gifts. If you didn't like it in the first place, you can't expect someone else to be ecstatic about it.
Surprise. There's a reason people cry at surprise parties – and it's not always for joy. Most people like to be mentally prepared for events, to have a hand in planning something they would enjoy. Unless you know someone very well, don't organise a big surprise for Valentine's Day. The surprise might be on you, when this person decides never to see you again.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated February 2014)
Photo: Wilted flowers from Shutterstock
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