In her recurring column, “Social in Security,” modern etiquette ambassador and Bell’INVITO founder Heather Wiese walks us through a list of trusted tips you can rely on. Today’s topic: How to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2024 like a true tastemaker.
Curious to know how the cool kids plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year? Are they flaunting their unparalleled taste and deep pockets? Has quiet luxury influenced their Love Day decisions? Or is it simply a comfies and caviar night on the sofa? (Raised hand here.)
I sent out a survey — a text message to 50 tastemakers on my contact list, to be frank — in mid-January. After pouring over the responses and a few follow-up questions (thank you for humoring me, dear friends), I’m ready to reveal the six socially secure ways to navigate this day of love celebrations with grace, humor, and a fresh coat of polish.
The gift that best expresses your love and appreciation is the one that creates a lasting memory. I’ll say it so someone has, the bouquet of roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates might seem impersonal. Time to step it up, my friend. You can do better. Curate something unique and unforgettable. This nails thoughtfulness and communicates your willingness to invest time and effort into your relationship. Relax. It doesn’t require any of the things that made you cringe three sentences back. Whether it’s short and sweet, or extravagant and involved, planning even just a little speaks volumes.
Bernard Maisner, artist and calligrapher-in-demand for the A-list, wrapped it up perfectly with, “Everybody knows that love is the most important thing in life. Symbols and objects are simply reminders, saying things we sometimes cannot verbalize. That’s the beauty of the arts. A simple card can say all that needs to be said.” Now, get out there and make it personal.
The Conversation Etiquette
The mere topic of Valentine’s Day plans, and especially gifts, is a delicate matter for some. In my survey, your answers were interestingly consistent. Newish lovers anticipate it. Brand-new lovers are anxious about it. In-between lovers are too busy to think about it. Seasoned lovers are wise to it. Alexa Pulitzer, the cheeky NOLA paper wardrobe (and now accessories, too!) designer to the stars, summed up perfectly what nearly all the responses reflected: “Valentine’s Day is for children, teens, and new lovers.”
For this reason, mind the questions you ask. Remember that the polite refrain from TMI, so make no assumptions. Don’t ask what someone received or if they have a specific plan. The question implies an expectation. If the topic is in the air, keep the chat general and light with a simple, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” Feel free to briefly indulge someone who wants to tell their story, but stop short of prying. The point is to stay in the fun zone and to steer clear of expectations that lead to disappointment.
The Device Protocol
Outside connectivity dominates our lives. This occasion is about connecting with the person or people you love, whether romantic or not. Take a break from the outside world and commit to a timeframe to be completely present. Turn off phones and mute the smartwatch. Rather, be a doll and ditch the social saboteur “accessory” altogether. The first to break the pact by reaching for an outside connection is never the winner, so set the expectations for an end time and lean into enjoying the present company until the agreed-upon finish.
Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate love in all its forms. Does anyone soak this up more deliciously than children? Plan to include the young and youthful. Themey or not, the point is to dedicate time. An outing, a cozy game night, an outdoor film night complete with a Macgyvered screen and a projector, a scavenger hunt, a baking session, craft hour, tackling a family sport — make it something fun. Create a memory. Maybe it’s a craft project with kids or maybe it’s a visit to or a video chat with grandparents. Be an example of love in action. It sets a healthy example and creates lasting memories.
The Last-Minute Flawless Execution
Life gets hectic, I get it. Valentine’s Day inevitably sneaks up on the best of us. Here’s what not to do, dear society. Do not drag your date out to an impromptu last-minute dinner with no reservation and hope to have a meaningful experience. I’m talking to you, too, VIPs, who can usually snag a table effortlessly. Nothing screams either amateur or entitled more than expecting to be the exception. This move also says, “You’re not important enough for my time to plan.” Now that I’ve been frank, don’t worry. I’ve got you. The key is to focus on thoughtful gestures that convey your love, appreciation, and reflection. Here are a few suggestions and links. Not your speed? Try something new together, emphasis on time together. And dear reader, never underestimate the meaningfulness of a sincere hand-written note. Or a song. Like Falling from Brendan James. Grab a tissue.
Last-minute searchers, try one of these…
- A Live Painting Experience by JD Miller is in the Design District. A walk through Klyde Warren Park is a short drive away.
- Keep it low-key on the 14th and present your love with a pair of tickets to a Fever candlelight concert for the 16th. You’re welcome.
- Make it cultural with an opera night. Elektra is the performance at the Winspear Opera House on Wednesday, February 14
- Search a curated list of restaurants: Looking for those last-minute tables? Try Resy.
- Search a curated list of hotels: Book a last-minute stay through Tablet
- Don’t miss the PaperCity list of local favorites for lovers.
Alternatively, consider a cozy picnic with a well-prepared charcuterie board and your partner’s favorite drink or dessert. Bring blankets and whatever makes you both comfortable. Bring some extra napkins, as things spill easily on uneven surfaces. See—look how prepared you look now. Good job!
Fair warning to my surveyed friends. I will be texting you again very soon, but not to see how Valentine’s Day was. That’s your business. I will be sure to take my own advice and keep my nosy questions to myself. To the rest of you cool kids, thank you for joining me for another February article. My heart is full of love. I adore writing to you and even more hearing from you. Keep the questions and topics coming in. Next month is all about style. Tell me what you want to read.
Happy Valentine’s Day!