4 DIY Valentine’s Day Traditions From Real-Life Couples

Ad failed to load

Let’s be real: though eating chocolate and going out for dinner are inarguably fun activities, celebrating Valentine’s Day can be stressful. If you’re riding solo, there’s often pressure to immediately hunt down a semi-decent suitor and/or a nearby Galentine’s Day alternative celebration. If you’re in a relationship, there’s pressure to snag a seat at the fanciest bistro in town and splurge on champagne and crème brûlée.

And the harsh truth is that our cultural ideas about the best way to celebrate love can get downright expensive. On Valentine’s Day, consumers spend $136.57 on average, and the prices of individual items representing your blissful love have risen over the past 12 months —gift givers are spending about eight percent more compared to 2016 on commonly purchased items like a dozen long-stemmed roses, according to the Cost of Loving Index. Even that perfectly sentimental greeting card will be pricier — it’s up 16 percent from last year. Most of us live with this frustration because we believe that ponying up some cash is the only real way to celebrate the holiday.

But embracing Valentine's Day doesn't have to mean having a pricey dinner in a restaurant or going into debt to buy the last bouquet of roses in town. Those things are fine if you want them — but know that many couples have DIY Valentine's traditions that are a reflection of what they appreciate about the holiday, and each other. Read on for four couples on their homespun V-Day traditions.

Ad failed to load

Ashlee & Justin Young: Married 7 years

Ad failed to load

Each Valentine’s Day, Ashlee gives Justin her heart — in the form of a giant chocolate chip cookie.

“He has received one every year from me, and it is probably his favorite gift each year,” Ashlee said. “He really loves baked goods.”

It all started back in 2007, when Ashlee was stumped about what to get her then-boyfriend for Valentine’s Day. As it turned out, her best friend’s mom made oversized, heart-shaped cookies for friends and family.

Ad failed to load

“Justin’s favorite cookie is chocolate chip, so I thought it was perfect,” Ashlee said.

The couple has moved around a lot in the past decade, which means the heart-shaped cookie tradition has morphed into an “exceptionally large cookie” tradition.

“After moving to Omaha, I discovered a local bakery that makes delicious 1.5-inch thick cookie cakes,” Ashlee said. “Although it isn’t heart-shaped, he still looks forward to it every year, and I’m pretty sure he would be devastated if I ever forgot it.”

Ad failed to load

The spirit of consuming huge, heart-shaped items lives on, though, in the new tradition the couple made when they became parents-to-be.

“Ever since we were pregnant with our son Harrison in February 2014, we have decided not to go out to dinner for Valentine’s Day,” Ashlee said. “Instead we order a heart-shaped pizza and enjoy our time together as a little family.”

Jeanelly Concepcion & Wilbur Santiago: Married 2 years

Ad failed to load

Eight years ago, Jeanelly and Wilbur moved into their first house together, and they wanted to make that Valentine’s Day in their new home special.

“We really wanted to use that kitchen to the fullest,” Jeanelly said. “I’ve always loved to cook, but I wanted to do something that would rival any restaurant. I pulled a recipe from the internet for a seafood carbonara linguini, asked him to help, and it just became a tradition!”

Ad failed to load

The couple — who’ve been together for 12 years — now spend each Valentine's Day avoiding the restaurant scene altogether in favor of a more intimate night in, making dinner together.

They did try venturing out for the holiday once, though — but it didn’t exactly go as planned.

“The one time we decided to go to a restaurant, I made reservations and still had to wait a long time to be seated,” Jeanelly said. “We waited even more to get our food, and it was cold.”

Ad failed to load

That whole experience solidified their belief that, for them, V-Day is best spent away from the masses.

“We decided that we’d keep our tradition of cooking something special at home and enjoying a glass of wine and each other’s company.”

Johnica & Matt Morrow: Married 4 years

Ad failed to load

Cooking at home is also part of how Johnica and Matthew spend their Valentine’s Day. The couple of eight years splits up the culinary duties on the big day.

“I make us breakfast, and he makes us dinner,” Johnica said. “I think that it really stemmed from being broke students when we first met. We didn’t want to spend the money going out, but we still wanted to spend the day celebrating our love.”

Ad failed to load

Johnica has made everything from bacon roses and heart-shaped pancakes to tortillas and eggs in a hat — as well as bacon snails and a “failed attempt” at a bacon bowl to hold breakfast fried rice. Matt’s specialties include sushi and steak.

“We both love that the other one takes the time to make a special meal,” Johnica said. “Plus, we enjoy forgetting everything else for the day.”

Having a tradition for Valentine’s Day is important for the Morrows because it helps them stay grounded and focused on each other.

Ad failed to load

“It is all too easy to take your significant other for granted when you see them all the time, so it’s nice to have a holiday that allows you to take a breath and really appreciate and prioritize one another in a purposeful way.”

Meg Stice & Dillon Crawford: Together 6 years

Ad failed to load

Meg and Dillon are #TeamCookAtHome as well, and they enjoy having a special soundtrack.

“Every year we pick a meal and go to the grocery store and purchase all the ingredients we will need,” Meg said. “After we get home, we prepare the meal to the sound of old jazz music.”

Ad failed to load

The couple has spent every Valentine’s Day cooking together side by side, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Traditions on Valentine’s Day can kind of make the holiday feel less cliché and more personal,” Meg said. “The best gift anyone can give is time. Spending time together creates memories that resonate more with me than just going to a restaurant where everyone else has also decided to go. The act of creating something takes teamwork, and I really feel like it has made us bond even more.”

On this year’s V-Day menu? Homemade pancakes, bacon, and eggs.

Ad failed to load

“I love breakfast for dinner, and this will be a fun one to make together — probably in our pajamas!”

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

46 Random Amazon Products That Thousands Of Reviewers Say Changed Their Lives

Life isn’t without its frustrations — and sometimes you need special products to help you solve those little problems that always seem to pop up. Whether you're looking to stay on top of goals or you just want something that makes everyday tasks les…
By Shayna Murphy

Is Amazon's Alexa Making Our Relationships Weird?

Earlier this year, I started dating a guy who was in a very codependent relationship with Alexa. Alexa helped this guy (I'll call him "Paul") decide where to eat dinner and reminded him to work out. Alexa handled his to-do lists, restocked his toile…
By Sophie Saint Thomas

You Can Get Too Faced Mascara & Tarte Lipstick For HALF OFF At Ulta This Month

It's finally here! Ulta's 21 Days of Beauty Sale runs from now through Saturday, April 7 and is the retailer's epic "event" of the year. The promotion features "Beauty Steals," which means 50 percent off specific products for a single day. It also in…
By Amy Sciarretto

7 Things My 20s Taught Me About Toxic Relationships

I'll be turning 30 in less than a week, and while I'm trying to get all the habits of my twenties out of the way ASAP, I'm also reflecting on the what I learned over the past decade. And top of the list is the lessons I learned about toxic relationsh…
By JR Thorpe

7 Surprising Things That Happened When I Went A Month Without Drinking

If someone asked you if you could take a break from drinking alcohol, would you be able to do it? You may think it’s no big deal to take a month off from drinking, or you may think it’s a *huge* deal, as alcohol seems to be the center of many social …
By Natalia Lusinski

I Wore 'Dad Shoes' For A Week & They Were SO Much Cooler Than I Thought They’d Be

It’s no secret that fashion loves a good polarizing trend. Not too long ago, Birkenstocks made their high fashion runway appearance at Céline and Crocs followed suit on the runways of Christopher Kane and Balenciaga. Now, it’s time for the "ugly" sne…
By Dale Arden Chong

8 Ways Younger Millennials Communicate That Older Millennials Don’t Get

When comparing the ways our parents grew up communicating and the way we all grew up communicating, it seems like their generation and ours grew up in a different world. The technology our parents grew up with was so basic, it's ancient in comparison…
By Kaitlyn Wylde

This Is The ONE Sign That Won’t Be Affected By Mercury Retrograde This Month

It really doesn't seem fair that one astrological sign can ever enjoy the benefit of escaping the wrath of Mercury retrograde — that is, of course, unless that sign is your own — but it happens. Occasionally, the stars just align in the right way for…
By Kaitlyn Wylde

Why My Boyfriend & I Started Couples Counseling 6 Months Into Our Relationship

Right away, Kurt and I agreed on almost everything. We had met through a mutual friend in 2015, but we didn't start dating until we came across each other on Bumble a few years later. That's when we discovered that we were on the same page when it ca…
By Rachel Simon

This Lace-Front Wig Is Going Viral Because No One Believes It's Actually A Wig

To understand how Zendaya easily goes from a pixie cut to voluminous curls or how the Kardashian-Jenners switch hair colors as frequently as they change clothes is to know the power of a good wig. Now that there's a lace-front wig going viral, the Tw…
By Summer Arlexis

This Primer & Mascara Combo Literally Doubles The Length Of My Eyelashes

Even as someone who loves beauty, I was never been particularly passionate about finding the perfect mascara. And then I got lash extensions for the first time. While I enjoy the long, full lashes that lash extensions provide, I always found myself j…
By Olivia Muenter

I Accidentally Fell In Love With My Friend With Benefits & It's Painful

Against my better judgment, I have fallen in love with my friend with benefits. I think I may have fallen in love with him month ago, but being stubborn AF, I fought against those feelings, tooth and nail, and, when it was suggested by a couple close…
By Amanda Chatel

This Viral Post About A Woman Breastfeeding In Public Actually Has A Happy Ending For Once

And today in things that will warm even the coldest of hearts, we have this: A story recently posted to the r/TwoXChromosome subreddit about a dad’s response to his daughter shaming a breastfeeding parent is everything. Posted by Redditor u/starsonwi…
By Lucia Peters

These March Beauty Launches Require Your Immediate Attention

I write one of these beauty editorials every month (feel free to check out January and February 2018 if you're in need of even more products to shower yourself with). Sometimes, I get worried that there won't be enough newness to share — especially b…
By Amanda Richards

Here's How You’re Most Likely To Get Your Heart Broken, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

Getting your heart broken can be one of the most painful experiences you can have in your life. But if you're into astrology, being familiar with your zodiac sign can be pretty helpful. For instance, when you know the ways you're likely to get your h…
By Kristine Fellizar

Finger Piercings Are Trending & The Internet Is Very Divided About Them

A new "accessories" trend is asserting itself on Instagram and it's subversive, non-traditional, and so darn precious. It also looks a tad painful but the end result is worth it. Dermal diamond finger piercings are a thing and they may make actual ri…
By Amy Sciarretto

How I Learned Losing Your Job Isn't The End Of The World

Two and a half years ago, I was taking a day off from my marketing job at a San Francisco tech startup to host a friend when I got a call from the CEO. Apparently, I'd missed a pretty big day: 80 percent of the company, including the whole sales and …
By Suzannah Weiss

Meghan Markle's First Appearance With The Queen Included An Homage To Princess Diana

Fashion pundits love keeping a close eye on what the women of the monarchy are wearing, especially when there's an overlap with Princess Diana's sense of style. We're nothing but nostalgic when it comes to Princess Di and her on-point aesthetic. Find…
By Marlen Komar

Why Arizona's Exit From 'Grey's Anatomy' Is A Huge Blow To The LGBTQ Community

Whenever I re-watch Grey's Anatomy, I don't start with Derek Shepherd waking up in Meredith's apartment after their first hookup. I start with Season 5, when Callie first meets Arizona in a bar. I start here, because I want to watch someone like me f…
By Martha Sorren

I Couldn't Find A Beauty Campaign With Plus Size Models, So I Made One Myself

In the fall of 2015, I visited relatives in my hometown, a small suburb of New Jersey. There isn't much to do there, apart from dining at Applebee's or hitting the mall. As a plus size woman, cruising through a shopping mall is a mixed bag. Certain d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

7 Signs You're The Emotionally Unavailable One In Your Relationship — And How To Work On It

It can be a weird feeling when you realize your relationship isn't working. But it happens — even in a long-term relationship — that, despite spending months or years together, you can realize that something is just missing. Sometimes that thing that…
By Lea Rose Emery

The 21 New Books That Goodreads Users Are Most Excited About This Spring

Despite the fact the Northeast is being pummeled by yet another storm that threatens to trap the region in snow and ice for eternity, winter is finally almost over, and you know what that means. No, I'm not talking about April showers or May flowers …
By Sadie Trombetta

Chelsea Clinton Gets Real About Twitter Trolls & What REALLY Infuriates Her About Trump

Before you read the first word on the first page of Chelsea Clinton's new book, you already know one thing: Strong women have always been a big part of her life. There's her mother, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was the first woman to run for president…
By Erin Delmore

If You’re Addicted To Rewatching ‘The Office,' There’s An Actual Reason For That

A few weeks ago, I tweeted that I was looking for fans of The Office who can't stop, won't stop rewatching the series, and that they should email me if they'd like to contribute to an article about their obsession. By the next morning, I had 32 messa…
By Lia Beck

This Is The Most Common Myers-Briggs Type

If you've ever really wanted to get to know yourself, you'll probably want to try out the Myers-Briggs type indicator test. You've probably seen a lot of articles online, and wondered about what the most common Myers-Briggs type is, as there's a lot …
By Kaitlyn Wylde