When was the last time you actually enjoyed Valentine’s Day? I think celebrating the most romantic day of the year is a lot like trying to shop on Black Friday: Instead of scouting out the best deals, you’re elbowing through dinner crowds and competing with your friends to see who can get the biggest flowers, the fanciest meal, or have the best time–all so that you can “win” with a great Facebook post. I’ve done it single and also coupled up, and my expectations (boosted by Hollywood movies), have never quite measured up to the hype.
But here’s the good news: you might have a better time the day after. Here are five reasons why I think February 15 is worth the wait.
You can actually get a reservation
The competition to grab a prime reservation can be fierce, especially in New York City where I live. But in the days leading up to V-Day, even I can find a reservation for fine dining on February 15 or 16. Sure, I’ll miss out on the special prix fixe menu, but that might actually be a good thing. Here’s an industry secret: it may not be that great of a deal. Restaurants might base their menu on ingredients they have a surplus of, or they could offer new dishes that the cooks aren't used to making. It’s also practically guaranteed to be an extra stressful and chaotic time for restaurant staff. They're under a lot of pressure to turn over tables, and serve up an unfamiliar menu to a never-ending queue of diners–which could spell disaster for your chances of getting good service.
That’s why I won’t be fighting my way through a crowded dining room on Valentine’s Day this year. I’ll get much better service, better food, and a better experience overall if I wait just 24 hours. And since President’s Day, a federal holiday, falls on a Monday this year, I can make my reservation as late as I want.
Chocolate will be cheaper
If you have a sweet tooth like me, Valentine’s Day is a great time of year: stores are stocked with pink- and red-wrapped chocolate and decorative boxes filled with cocoa goodness, and if I can hold off on those sweet treats until the 15th, they'll cost a fraction of the price. When it comes to chocolate, it shouldn’t matter whether it comes in a square- or heart-shaped box—it’s just as delicious. And chocolate doesn’t necessarily have to blow your calorie budget for the day. If you opt for the dark kind, the low glycemic index can actually steady your blood sugar levels, help cut food cravings, and leave you satisfied. In the rare case that there’s any left over, you can keep it in the freezer for up to six months–or just until the next chocolate emergency.
If you stumble upon chocolate hearts on sale, try swapping them in for Hershey’s Kisses in this recipe for Kiss Cookies.
You can get deals on lingerie
Anything pink, red, or decorated with hearts is definitely expensive in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. But I’ve discovered that just one day after, I can get great deals on Valentine’s Day-themed underthings in department stores or big-box stores like Target. Like many people, I tend to pass on racier things like a bright red slip in favor of sensible nude or black. But at these low prices, I may take a chance on pretty but impractical colors. After all, lacy lingerie in shades of pink and red is sexy any time of year, isn't it?
You can stock up on gift bags and wrapping paper
Christmas offers greater variety, but I think that Valentine’s Day-themed gift bags and wrapping paper are much prettier. Plus, it’s surprisingly versatile. You can stock up on gift wrap that screams “I love you” to use on birthday or anniversary gifts for your significant other, save pink and red gift wrap for your BFF, and use pink for roughly half of your baby shower gifts. (And, of course, red tissue paper will come in handy around the holidays.) If you happen to have the extra storage space, scoop up discounted Valentine's Day-themed decorations so you can be super prepared this time next year.
Flowers will be discounted
Everyone knows that roses are more expensive this time of year. Because the demand is high but also unpredictable, your local florist will probably end up ordering more stock than they can sell before Valentine's Day. Since the goods are perishable, this means that just one day later, they're likely to lower their prices to clear out their shelves. Your local market is a great source for cheap and plentiful blooms, but you can also check out warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club, which tend to buy in bulk. If you love flowers, this is a great opportunity to stock up on blooms in every color of the rainbow, decorate your house, and maybe even try your hand at flower arranging.
Here’s a simple arrangement you can try. All you need are tulips, a bag of Valentine’s Day M&M’s, and two vases that can fit one inside the other.