Back in college, my friend Kim and I found ourselves alone on Valentine's Day one year, and decided to stop by a diner to treat ourselves to all the apps and 'zerts that our petty college budgets would allow us to buy. It turns out that the waitstaff wasn't too fond of our best friend Valentine's Day Date idea, and actually treated us poorly next to the guests that were obviously there for a romantic night out. While we felt the discrimination for sure, the experience helped us bond even more — we managed to do something special with the day, instead of sit in our respective dorms and sulk over our situations. Our surly waitress became an inside joke, and we decided to stick to places that truly appreciated loving friendships, like Denny's. (Note: It was a smaller college, and we were too new to the area to explore other options.)
The experience definitely made me appreciate the concept of BFF Valentine's Day dates. After all, the day shouldn't have to be about flowers, chocolates, and situations that involve overpriced lingerie. It should be about spending the day with someone who gets you, and cares about you, regardless of whether or not it's a significant other or a person who truly had your back during a tough academic semester.
If you find yourself lonely on V-Day, here are a few places you can visit to have a magical time with your equally single best girl.
1. Volunteer together.
Who needs candy and chocolates, when you can be making a difference instead? Find a cause that you and your BFF both care about, and contact your local affiliate to see if there are any good events around Valentine's Day that may need your help. Some good causes are the American Heart Association, your favorite local animal shelter (puppies and kittens!), or your local food pantry. It'll be a rewarding experience for both of you that you'll never forget — and perhaps the volunteering can be something you continue with after the holiday.
Spending your day volunteering will prove that you truly have heart, and not just in candy form.
2. Hit up the bookstore for coffee and magazines.
Remember back in the day, before you were 21? The bookstore was the place to be. While you and your BFF might not be able to bond over Tiger Beat anymore, check out some other magazines while sipping on some caffeinated beverages together. Maybe each of you can buy three, and then swap. Bonus adventures ahead, if you find some cute new celebrity hairstyle inspiration for your next cut.
3. Get your nails done.
Going for a mani/pedi is a perfect time to get pampered while bonding with your bestie. Consider choosing each other's new color, or maybe getting something fancy that you'd never get during a typical appointment. If you're not someone who finds herself in a nail salon unless there's a special event in the near future (or if you've simply never been since prom), it can turn into a nice little tradition where you won't feel bad spending some cash on yourself.
4. Go on a V-Day hike.
The weather might not be the best, but since it's 2016, and the weather has been bonkers these past few years, who knows? It might be alarmingly sunny on Feb. 14. Find a great local path in your area, or even consider a brief road trip with your BFF to explore nature. If you're new to hiking, all you truly need are a pair of solid sneakers with a good grip, a change of socks, some cold water, and a hiking pole, which you can find at a retailer for not too much cash. (You could also go pole-less, but they definitely help if there's a high elevation, or if there's extremely rocky terrain.) Make sure to start out with an easy trail if you're both new.
Just remember that hiking doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be greeted by a hungry bear. It's actually super peaceful to be outside, and having a friend there makes the experience even more worthwhile.
5. Have a chick-flick night.
You, your best friend, some wine, and plenty of popcorn. You can either have her bring some of her favorite DVDs over (and some wine), or you can select something to stream. Make sure to choose the movies that your last significant other would never watch in your presence. This day is all about embracing what you love, and if you happen to love campy sex-fests like Fifty Shades Of Grey? That's totally cool.
6. Make reservations at the fanciest place you can think of.
And make them soon, since places fill up quick on Valentine's Day. Find a restaurant that neither of you has ever been to before (and probably wouldn't visit on a random Friday night), and dress to the nines. Remember that dress in your closet that you bought on a whim and never ended up wearing? Valentine's Day is the perfect day to break it out and have it make a debut.
If you're not the type of person to go out to a fancy dinner, you deserve it tonight. Forget about everything in life that's stressing you out, and enjoy some amazing prime rib with your best girl.
7. Create the perfect bouquet for each other.
Why does it feel kind of lame to buy yourself flowers? Flowers brighten up every room, and also brighten your mood. If you can't find a guy or girl to offer you a bouquet on Valentine's Day, go to a local florist and create a beautiful bouquet for your best friend. It doesn't have to be roses or carnations — find something a little more unique and lively, just like your bestie.
When you're back home and look at your beautiful flowers, you'll be reminded that you have a pretty awesome friend.
8. Go dancing.
Whether it's at a club, or a place that has the very best swing music of all time, dress your best and have a carefree time with each other. Just remember that your BFF is your date, so you should make sure that she goes home safely with you — and not another random single checking out her dance moves. As Leslie Knope once said, ovaries before brovaries.
9. Book a White Castle dinner together.
It's Harold and Kumar's favorite spot, sure, but it's also the best place to be for a low-key, romantic dinner. White Castle has been hosting a V-Day event for well over 20 years, offering customers a candlelight dinner with a refined special menu. Table-side sliders? How can you go wrong with that?
If you don't have a White Castle in your area, Waffle House is offering a similar service. How can you say no?
10. Hold a boyfriend bonfire together.
If you're familiar with Friends, you're familiar with the concept — burning mementos of past boyfriends (or girlfriends) who broke your heart. If you and your best friend still have some baggage left over from a past relationship, you can use this Valentine's Day to bond and get rid of all of the past reminders of failed relationships. Old, cheesy love notes? Burn them. Jewelry? Well, you might be better off pawning it.
Of course, we all saw how things ended up with the ladies on Friends, so make sure your bonfire is always under control. Yes, hot firemen might rescue you, but it's not worth the risk.
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