Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, or Singles Awareness Day, it can be hard to plan a fun date with your man or a night out with friends with all the pressure to be innovative and unique. You stress over creating the perfect day and often you put so much time and energy into planning that the final product can’t possibly live up to your expectations.
And that’s the problem. Your Valentine’s Day celebration becomes a product instead of a lovely evening with the people you love.
Don’t stress about it this V-day. Here are 13 things you can plan to do whether you are single, taken, or your heart belongs with your tribe on Valentine’s Day.
1. Go stargazing
It is surprising how many people have never actually gone stargazing! You can look up at the sky anywhere you go, but have you really seen the stars? If you really want to make it special, you and your man can find an astrological map and take a trip to a place with little to no light pollution and spend a few hours really appreciating the glory of the heavenly bodies. You can do your research on sites like the International Dark Sky Association or DarkSiteFinder to find the darkest places on the map and therefore the best for stargazing. If all you know are bright nights in the city, a road trip to a noteworthy dark sky site to watch the stars will be one worth taking.
2. Go on a brewery tour
Home-grown microbreweries are making a comeback because they fuse the local charm of a city with the age-old tradition of homebrewing. Because of their popularity, many cities have small breweries that likely offer tours or tastings. Steel City has plenty of microbreweries to choose from and many offer tours (e.g. Avondale Brewing Co. and Good People Brewery). Many also host events where good food is combined with good brew to create legendary nights (e.g. Cahaba Brewery ). A night spent touring and tasting your way around a local brewery can be a night where you and your man create memories, delve deeper into local food culture, and develop a taste for a finer, local brew.
3. Go swing dancing
There is a burgeoning swing dance scene all over the country that a lot of people have no idea exists. Steel City Swing is one of those growing dance communities in Birmingham. Whether it is a group activity with the ladies or a date with tu amor, you can attend one of their Monday night classes from 7 to 8, then stay from 8 until 10 for open dancing. It is a genuinely relaxed, fun time and lessons always start from the basics so everyone is on equal standing. The class is so much fun and cool personas are checked at the door so there is absolutely no way you won’t leave having had an amazing, shame-free night. You’ll be hooked by the end of the first lesson and within a few classes you’ll be able to boogie with the best of ’em!
4. Take a cooking class
If you fancy yourself a master with the rolling pin and you know your way around a Kitchen-Aid (even better if you don’t) then a cooking class may be the right way to celebrate Galentine’s Day with the girls. Bonus points if you can find a class on preparing a delectable dessert. Classes are often offered in small sizes and sometimes more advanced cooking techniques are taught. If you want to slip away to a marché couvert in France or a gelato shop in Italy for the night with your closest friends, sign up for a class. Sur La Table and Grand Bohemian Hotel are two places that host classes. Enjoy a night of good eats prepared by your own hands and by the end you’ll be able to julienne, chiffonade, and saute like you were Julia Childs reincarnated.
5. Plan an escapade and document with a hashtag
Wedding hashtags have become the trend for couples getting hitched these days but there’s nothing that says single ladies can’t enjoy some of the fun. Plan an adventurous day with your tribe and create a hashtag that everyone can use to tag pictures taken throughout the day. You’ll be able to enjoy visiting some of your favorite spots (and find some new treasures) and create long-lasting memories with the guys and gals you love in the city you adore.
6. Have a night at the drive-in
This isn’t the cheesy family outing your dad forced you to go on when you were in those awkward middle school years; this is actually fun. Get everyone together, pick out your warmest throw blankets, find the friend with the largest SUV, and make your way to the local drive-in theater. Drive-ins can sometimes be “bring your own everything” so take advantage of the holiday and pack slices of each of your favorite cakes, chocolate-dipped strawberries, a box of heart shaped chocolates, and a bottle of sparkling cider to share, in addition to the traditional popcorn and pretzels. Take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate Galentine’s Day with nary a man in sight and go all out: find a sappy romance or a Rom-Com or an independent film and enjoy a night with the crew.
7. Spoil Yourself
There is always the push to think beyond yourself for Valentine’s day celebrations because so often the holiday is about treating others (which is not a bad thing, per se). Nonetheless, if you are single this year and feel you need some me time to pamper yourself, lean into that urge. Prepare an ambient space where you can be mindful and give yourself some TLC. Finish the book you started weeks ago or set aside time to write out and process your thoughts. Give yourself the head to toe treatment with hair masks, exfoliants, bath soaks, and invest in indulgent skin care products like these and these. A spa day can keep your mind feeling light and your skin looking lovely and you’ll thank yourself later on for the PYT treatment.
8. Pretty sleepwear and pastries
There are nights when you have a t-shirt and leggings to thank for the comfiest night you’ve had in weeks; Galentine’s Night is just not that night. Find your prettiest sleepwear (or use this event as an excuse to splurge on some), gather the girls, and ask mom for Grams’ old family recipes and prepare for a pretty unforgettable night. No box cakes or brownies allowed! Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to say yes to your sweet tooth and bake a batch of those notoriously fickle french macaroons or attempt a puff pastry dessert. Pro tip: indulge in whatever your hearts desire that night but whatever you don’t eat can be brought to the office the next day to share. No risk of overindulging and you’ll be the office favorite!
9. Go on a hot-air balloon ride
Hot air ballooning is a very old method of flight, yet a new and unique way for you and your man to make memories. If neither of you are afraid of heights and aren’t really impressed with the idea of braving the dinner crowds on the night of Valentine’s Day, this could give you the thrill you are both looking for. There are many companies that offer flights (Southern Balloon Journeys and Balloons Over Georgia, for example) where you and your honey can fly just above the treetops or ascend to several thousand feet into the earth’s atmosphere. For the couple who craves adventure, this is an exciting date that will set the bar high for any future dates you plan.
10. Go berry picking
If being caught up in the mass exodus of lovebirds to every restaurant in the city doesn’t impress you but you were looking forward to cozying up to your guy, then doing something more modest to celebrate Valentine’s Day will suit you two. Going fruit picking on a farm with your beau is a perfect combination of an intimate setting, a simple plan, and a low-stress evening. There are plenty of farms that have a variety of fruits to pick, like blueberries, strawberries, peaches, and blackberries. You’d be surprised how enjoyable and sweet an afternoon spent berry picking can be. At the end of the day, take your respective hauls home and incorporate your fruit into your cooking. And freeze what you have left over so all your fruit won’t go bad in your refrigerator.
11. Picnic at the summit of a mountain
Living at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains gives southerners an advantage over our friends in the plains. There are numerous trails that combine challenging hikes, semi-private getaways, and stunning views of the city. If you and your beau are lovebirds that prefer the outdoors, a picnic at the summit of a mountain can be a great way for you two to enjoy each others’ company. Some trails can be undertaken in an hour or less, while others can take hours to hike round trip. Whatever length of time it takes, a day spent chatting, laughing, joking, and just being together over a beautiful picnic scene can make for one of your most memorable times together.
12. Double date game night
One is the loneliest number… It takes two to tango… Three’s a crowd… Who says valentine’s day must be spent with just your significant other? Sometimes the best dates can be those spent with other couples. Host a classic game night and invite all your friends over (whether coupled or not) for an upbeat night of competition. Taboo, Twister, Apples to Apples, and even Monopoly are a few games that everyone knows and can be played all night. If classic Hasbro isn’t your style, games like Spoons, Mafia, and Fishbowl can also provide endless entertainment. If you want to add another level of excitement to the mix, host the game night at a local coffee shop or mircrobrewery (O’Henry’s Coffee Brookwood has a semi-private loft upstairs perfect for a game night and Cahaba Brewing Co. is a large open space that would perfectly accommodate a night of games and brew with all your friends). Make it guys against girls, couples against couples, singles against those taken. Whatever the plan, wherever the location, it will surely be a night of memories… and maybe the start of a monthly tradition!
13. Team Scavenger Hunt
In little-big cities like Birmingham, where there is so much to explore, a scavenger hunt can be an exciting way to spend the day with friends. Small shop owners are usually more than willing to be stops along the route (especially in the Magic City, thanks to a little thing called Southern Hospitality) and may even offer to help with interactive clues. Plant clues along stores in popular districts in the city (e.g. Five Points South and English Village) and include challenges that use the city’s unique finds like food trucks, well-known monuments, and historical sites. Pro tip: include a hashtag that everyone can use to document the day (a la number 5) and tag each business in any posts you create on social media. Small local businesses can really benefit from the free publicity and you show your love for your city and support for local business.