Two women enjoy a romantic dinner. 

January has officially wrapped up, and although it may seem like the New Year’s celebrations just finished, the next holiday season is already sliding in. Red and pink hearts, boxes of chocolates and flowers galore are being showcased in every store you cross as Valentine’s Day looms ever closer. Hate it or love it, everyone has their own traditions for Feb. 14. Regardless of how you celebrate, this year will feel a little bit different because of COVID-19.

While all the social distancing and safety measures need to be followed, that doesn’t have to stop you from celebrating! For starters, giving gifts and flowers to your loved ones is still possible. Odds are that the people who you would go out of your way to see on this holiday are people you’re around all the time or even who you live with. One of the bittersweet aspects of safe living during this pandemic is that most people have more online classes and are working at home. Because of this, you may have more time to work on a heartfelt surprise. Even if your valentine lives far away or is someone you can’t physically be with, there is still a solution. Mailing a beautifully arranged bouquet or composing a heartfelt text can mean so much more than it gets credit for.

Aside from gifts, another common staple of Valentine’s Day is a nice dinner or outing with your partner or a group of friends. Unfortunately, some restaurants may not be open or will be more difficult to get a reservation, but eating out isn’t the only way to have a nice meal. Instead, switch up your tradition this year and make a fancy, delicious dinner at home instead. Whether it’s cooking a meal together or making it yourself as a fun surprise, a homecooked meal can be even more special (and tasty) than going out. If cooking isn’t your thing, that’s fine too! Ordering in from restaurants with delivery or through outside businesses, like UberEats, brings the yummy food to the safety of your home.

Gifts and dinner are definitely a big part of Valentine’s Day, but the most important part, and really the whole reason for the holiday, is to celebrate and spend time with the people you truly care about. 2020 and even some of 2021 have been rough for everyone. The challenges we’ve all faced have taken a physical and mental toll on almost anyone you talk to, which is why it’s all the more necessary to celebrate love. That doesn’t just mean the butterflies you get over your crush from chemistry lab, but also the love you have for your family and friends. Just because things are different, it doesn’t mean you can’t still have a fun Valentine’s Day. Use the holiday as a chance to slow down, practice some selfcare and self-love and spend time with the people who matter.

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