Personally, I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. In principle, I think that an entire day devoted to the celebration of love is a wonderful idea. In practice, I think it’s an over-commercialised phenomenon that is way too constrictive in the kind of love it celebrates: What about familial love? The love between friends? With this in mind, I have tried to come up with some ideas of things to give on Valentines that are neither of the above: they can be applied to all forms and varieties of love, including the one I think needs celebrating the most at Cambridge: The love and support you receive from an awesome group of friends. So, without further ado, I present the top 5 things (on a budget) you can give/do for Valentine’s day, no matter what kind of love you are celebrating:
Nothing says I love you and appreciate the difference you make to my life like a lovingly prepared meal. . You could make their favourite meal, invite them round and surprise them, or bond as you make it together, which can be really surprisingly fun, and then appreciate the bounty of your effort. Or, if you can’t cook at all (and trust me, there are people out there without a speck of culinary ability), get in their favourite take away. Show them you care by remembering all their favourite dishes and if there is an odd number, make the ultimate sacrifice and give them the extra slice/dumpling
Alright, so this is a bit of a weird one to do with your friends (not to say it can’t be done!). Plan a walk through Cambridge going to all the places you have been together: cafés you’ve been to on dates, your favourite route for your Saturday stroll, where you met or had your first kiss (If you got together in Cambridge that is). A way to jazz it up is to book lunch at their favourite restaurant halfway round the walk: lunches are considerably cheaper than dinners and should be less crowded. For a more ‘friend friendly’ option, if you know their lecture timetable, surprise them at appropriate times such as with a big cup of coffee before their 9am, or their favourite sandwich when they are running between supervisions and labs.
Make a card:
I know there are loads of cards out there, but chances are you’ve read them all before, they are sickeningly sweet and nauseating or they contain some irritatingly poor animal pun. Why not make a card? Sketch something they love, like their favourite place in Cambridge, or if like me, you can’t draw to save your life, then make a collage of photos of the two of you together
Similarly, for a lovely personalised present to brighten up their prison cell of a college room (Fitz, I’m looking at you), you can make a poster of all the stuff you have done together. Buy a big piece of card or canvas (Paperchase/Tindalls are good here) and cover it will memorabilia of your time together. Good things to include: Receipts from meals/coffees, cinema/theatre tickets, ticket stubs from concerts, wristbands from Mayballs or festivals. Warning: This idea needs a magpie-like compulsion to hoard things. For those who have the ability to through stuff away, photos are good: Things like screenshots of snapchats they don’t have anymore are great.
Make it personal:
Hands down the most romantic present I have ever received is a framed copy of my first TCS article with a message at the top. It was just wonderful: Remembering something I had done that I was proud of and helping me remember that, even when I feel really useless. So find something they’ve done that they are proud of, like President of a society and get it framed, like the picture of the Committee with them right in the centre, to remind them every day how special they and the amazing things they can do when they put their mind to it.
So there you have five great ways to celebrate all kinds of love, and not a box of chocolates, overpriced overcrowded restaurant meal, sickening cuddly toy or broken budget in sight.