What’s In and Out for Valentine’s Day

By Dr. Jess Holidays Exploring how Valentine’s Day is transforming

Like every celebration, Valentine’s Day is highly personal. While some lean into every aspect of the holiday, others are staunchly opposed to celebrating a so-called greeting card holiday. Whether you fall into the any-excuse-to-celebrate-love camp or the refuse-to-be-prescribed-romance resisters, if you’re here, you’re likely interested in exploring how Valentine’s Day is transforming with the latest trends for 2024.

While some traditions endure, others have given way to new ways of expressing love, romance, and affection. Let’s delve into what’s in and out for Cupid’s big day.

In: Staying in to Create Cozy Moments
Out: Going Out

Staying in over going out is a testament to the fact that intentionally prioritizing intimacy is essential in all types of relationships. While a date night out can help you to break your routine, the pressure of booking a table (on a busy night for restaurants) alongside the increased cost of eating out (and cost of living more generally) can detract from the intended outcome of an enjoyable night of connection. Consider ditching the pressure to land the hottest table and instead set aside time to cook together at a leisurely pace. Alternatively, you can order in and have more time to enjoy your meal.

If you have kids and can’t send them to their grandparents, consider feeding them earlier and sending them off to bed so you can enjoy some time alone. Don’t feel pressure for the evening to be romantic or erotic – even a few hours on the couch without interruptions can be relaxing and intimate.

For those who are single, consider planning a night in with friends or family. Whether you bring dinner to your parents (if you’re lucky enough to have them around!) or cook a four-course meal for your bestie, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to celebrate love and connections of all kinds.

In: Experiences
Out: Wrapped Gifts

Our next trend for V-Day 2024 involves memories over materialism. Gen Z and Millennials may be driving the trend of opting for experiences over material goods, but more experienced generations are also getting on board, and it makes sense. According to the latest research from the University of Pennsylvania, a study of 2,635 adults compared those who purchased material goods (e.g., jewelry or clothing) versus those who spent on experiences (e.g., sporting events or meals), concluding that the latter group experienced higher levels of happiness regardless of the amount of money spent. To enjoy a unique experience on Valentine’s Day, consider a new or challenging activity to shake things up and reignite passion. For example:

  • Visit a haunted house or take a ghost tour of your town.
  • Play tourist in your city or someplace nearby.
  • Challenge yourself with an Escape Room.
  • Sign up for a cooking class (e.g., pasta making) in person or online.
  • Plan an overnight getaway (It doesn’t have to fall on the 14th).
  • Go for a winter hike.
  • Take a workshop (beer or wine tasting, salsa dancing, painting).
  • Watch a foreign film.
  • Enjoy local theater or visit a local gallery.

And, of course, if you want to indulge in something experiential and erotic, consider moving your sex play to a new location, like the shower or tub, where you can play with ASTROGLIDE X Silicone Liquid in the water.

In: Homemade Hearts
Out: Heart-Shaped Boxes of Chocolate

This simple and festive trend is for the foodies: heart-shaped pizzas, cookies, cakes, quiches, pies, pasta, and more! If you can cut, arrange, or even shape your favorite food into the shape of a heart, go for it. You’ll even find some local and chain pizza shops offering special heart-shaped pies for delivery, so enjoy the festivities and feel free to surprise a neighbor with a heart-shaped delivery. Sexologist Tip: Get naked and eat in bed—with no pressure to get it on when you’re done.

In: Platonic Celebrations
Out: Romantic Love Above All Else

In 2024, we’re celebrating all types of love and relationships. V-Day is the perfect time to express love, appreciation, and affection for friends, parents, siblings, neighbors, and others who bring joy and meaning to our lives. If your parents or caregivers were your very first Valentines, put them at the top of your list and consider hosting them for dinner this year. If you’re separated by distance, you can still send them dinner or dessert and gather for an informal virtual celebration. Last year, we learned that Gen Z was the most likely to celebrate with friends (as opposed to with a partner), and we expect that more of us will follow suit in 2024. For those looking to celebrate friendships on V-Day, consider a platonic threesome. If you’re in a relationship, invite a single friend (or two!) to join the two of you for dinner. Treat them to a home-cooked meal or a night on the town and spread the love.

In: Thoughtful Gifts
Out: Big-ticket Items

While retail councils may be hopeful that spending on gifts will increase, most recipients will attest that thoughtful, personalized, and homemade gifts can bring as much joy as costly items. Some simple, low-cost gift ideas:

  • Snackle box (a tackle box full of their favorite snacks).
  • Foot massage while they’re on a phone call or in a Zoom meeting.
  • Love notes inscribed in a book.
  • Art/print from a local community artist.
  • Prepped meals or smoothies.
  • Personalized playlist (e.g., a throwback to your early days of dating).
  • Donation to a cause close to their heart.
  • Flavored lube (e.g., Astroglide Strawberry Liquid) with quality time set aside to explore.

In: Ongoing Celebrations of Love
Out: High-Pressure Holidays

One of the biggest complaints I hear about Valentine’s Day is that the pressure to celebrate, be romantic, feel connected, buy gifts, spend quality time, and have sex is too much. And I tend to agree that holidays like Valentine’s Day (alongside anniversaries) have the potential to relegate the expression and celebration of love to a single day. Why not invest in connection all month or year rather than feeling that you have to get it all done in one day? Valentine’s Day offers the perfect reminder that love requires nurturing and investment, so it’s a great time to plan acts of love – for your partner, yourself, friends, and family. Consider inputting reminders in your calendar today to spread the love throughout the year. Whether you take a moment to appreciate a loved one daily or carve out quality time one day per month, being intentional with your schedule will create more space for love in 2024 – perhaps the best gift you can give yourself this Valentine’s Day.

Whether you love or loathe Valentine’s Day, you can define how you celebrate and express love today and every day, so consider picking one trend that appeals to you and embracing it with an open mind. Here’s to love in abundance in 2024 and beyond!