Valentine's Day is nearly upon us. Cue cynics. Cue romantics. Half the world is in love and half the world wants to rip the flamboyant hearts from the window displays in disgust. 

Where do you sit? Personally, I'm a romantic, but I understand why the mass commercialisation of the day makes many people want to vomit. Especially if you hate pink. 

It’s a far cry from the imprisonment and torture suffered by the man we've come to know as Saint Valentine. His story is little known and much disputed, but what is certain is that it had nothing to do with Hallmark (other greeting cards are available).

So here's the thing. How about enjoying Valentine's Day without getting wrapped in the trappings that make you nauseous and out of pocket? What about seeing it as an opportunity to open your heart?

I’ve come up with five ideas for starters and they might just get you thinking about some other 'love’-ly plans of your own. 

1. Have a picnic. Indoors. 

Everybody knows that restaurants are over crowded and overpriced on Cupid's special day. You can hardly chink glasses without elbowing the swooning couple on your right. And, everybody knows that picnics are romantic. And lots cheaper. So clear a space, throw down a blanket and light a few candles. Finger food never tasted so good. 

2. Spend some time in nature. 

Sunsets, rolling hills, swaying flowers. Nature is romantic. And free. Go for an invigorating stroll and spend some real quality time with someone special. If you're not in a couple, just take yourself for a walk and open your heart to the sky. 

3. Reach out and make other people feel loved.

It's love day, but no one said it had to be romantic. Phone an old friend, visit an elderly neighbour. Text. Write. Check in. Making those connections will make you feel happy, as well as someone else. Win win.

4. Make a jar of good things for someone you love.

I have to credit my friend Alex for this one. When asked for an affordable, but meaningful gift idea, she immediately came up with this masterstroke. Get an old jar (jam, marmalade, whatevs). Write lots of happy thoughts/memories/quotes down, cut them all out, fold, and put inside. Cover the top with some pretty or funky material. Then, each day, the recipient takes out a 'good thing' and their face is smiling and their life is enhanced.

5. Do a heart meditation

Whether we're in a relationship or not, we all want more love in our lives and it does us good to sit still and listen to our hearts. A healthy happy heart can give more love and therefore receive more. What is your heart telling you? 

A bit of heart

So whatever you do this this Valentine's Day, don’t get down or curmudgeonly, put a bit of heart in it and you might just find you get even more back. If not, at least you’ll have the pleasure of knowing there’s a little bit more love in the world than before you started.

It does’t matter how the rest of the world interprets Valentine’s Day. How you see it is up to you. Now, where did I put my heart shaped helium balloons?

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