I’m not really a big fan of Valentine’s Day. I don’t like the pressure to overspend on high-profile gifts or prix-fixe dinners at overbusy restaurants. And giving stuffed animals to adults is ridiculous. And I think red clashes with pink. But there are occasions when we need to reaffirm our loved ones with gestures of affection, and Valentine’s Day is one of them. Here are some of my favorite “alternative” ideas for celebrating Valentines Day in Nashville this year without selling out.

Old Tradition – Valentine’s Card           New Tradition – In-Store Card Swap

I feel like I’m sharing a very special secret with you now. My husband and I haven’t bought any kinds of cards for each other for years. Instead, we pop into a card shop (or drugstore, or even grocery store), stand in the aisle reading cards, pick the PERFECT cards for each other, exchange them with each other….and then put them back on the shelf! It’s a fun little activity that means a lot more than it costs, because the really meaningful part is choosing just the right card (and, of course, the cost is nothing)! Fair warning – if you wait to do this activity on Valentine’s Day – or even the day after – the card selection will be picked over. But sometimes that just adds to the humor.

Old Tradition – Dinner            New Tradition – Brunch

The fact that Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year makes it a) difficult to get a decent dinner reservation, and b) easy to find a great spot in Nashville to have brunch instead. Some of Nashville’s hottest new restaurants are open for brunch on the weekends – why not try brunch at Sinema, The Farm House or Husk? Or, for a more casual meal, maybe you could try Fenwick’s 300 or Biscuit Love. Much less intimidating; much more fun!

Old Tradition – Champagne & Chocolates                 New Tradition – Master a New Cocktail at Home (& Chocolates)

There are a couple of problems with champagne. First, even among wine drinkers, it’s rarely the wine of choice. Second, there is something about the effervescence of champagne and other sparkling wines that promotes tipsiness, even among responsible imbibers. So, my recommendation is to forget about the bubbly and opt instead for some interesting ingredients for a make-at-home cocktail. Bang Candy in Marathon Village makes some intriguing simple syrups (my current favorite is the lavender mint), you can pick up excellent spirits at 12th & Pine Beverage Co. in the Gulch, and fresh fruits, herbs and other ingredients around the corner at The Turnip Truck. (While you’re at The Turnip Truck, you might as well pick up some high quality chocolate. Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to have chocolate!)

Old Tradition – Jewelry                                  New Tradition – Custom Playlist

I think music trumps jewelry in the romance department any day. I know that lots of ladies like getting jewelry, but the mass-produced “named” pendants (I’m looking at you, “Hearts on Fire”) are hopelessly old-fashioned and just not very pretty. Remember back in the day when you could make a mix tape for your loved one, with a hand-picked selection of meaningful songs? Well, this is simply an updated version of that idea. In my opinion, the only way you could score higher on the romance list would be to write a song yourself. THAT would be a killer gift, if you have a killer gift for writing songs! So, put your iTunes account to good use and create a special Valentine’s playlist to load to your valentine’s phone (or iPod). Bonus – you can listen to the playlist while mixing your custom cocktails at home – and perhaps awaiting your pizza delivery.

Old Tradition – Roses               New Tradition – Tulips

Walking through the floral section at Kroger today, I was amazed at the beautiful selection of live, potted tulips. Whole Foods usually has fresh cut tulips, too – as inexpensive as $10 a dozen! Since you don’t have to impress your valentine’s coworkers this year (another advantage of February 14 falling on Saturday), pick up some pretty, perky tulips. If you feel that you MUST spend more on a floral arrangement, head over to Color in Green Hills and find a pretty, perky container to use as a vase! Just avoid the ones that have red and pink hearts on them. (I’m kidding – you wouldn’t find such an abomination at Color!)

I hope these ideas will help you get through Valentine’s Day feeling that you’ve sold out to meaningless commercialism. Enjoy!

Written by Margaret

Sounds Like Fun - Nashville is a labor of love - my love for Music City, Middle Tennessee, and experiencing the best that our area has to offer. In recent years, I've developed an informal following among my friends and professional colleagues. People ask me what I've got planned for an upcoming weekend – or seek advice about good activities for showing visiting friends or relatives around the Nashville/Middle Tennessee area. Even though there are other sites with event calendars, I think followers of my blog can expect some extra insight into goings-on that would suit ‘most anyone seeking to experience the diversity of fun and interesting things to do around town. I'm always on the look-out for good places to walk my dog. Maggie is a 10-year-old mixed breed shelter dog who still becomes comically ecstatic when she sees me pick up a leash. She's my inspiration to start a page featuring great dog walks around Nashville.

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