It can only mean one thing when CVS reveals its overwhelming stock of heart-shaped chocolate boxes and multicolored rose bouquets: Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Though we tend to associate Feb. 14 with romantic love, the holiday actually encourages the celebration of love in all of its forms: platonic love, familial love and self-love, to name a few.
If you’ve seen Parks and Recreation, you might be familiar with “Galentine’s Day,” an invented holiday devoted to the celebration of loyalty between friends. While its famed founder, the fictional Leslie Knope, recognizes her female companions, I believe the sentiment applies beyond self-identifying “gals.” And because I further believe that platonic love and romantic love deserve equal esteem, I encourage you to treat this Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to express appreciation for those who help you navigate the ups and downs of life at Hopkins. Below are some ideas for a non-romantic, Valentine’s Day get-together with those special pals.
1. Organize a Valentine’s Day potluck. Is there any better way to express love than through the act of preparing and sharing food? Invite each of your friends to bring a dish, and enjoy a family-style feast. Arranging a potluck divides up the responsibility for cooking, creates variety and ensures that everyone has something to eat and enjoy. If you’re feeling ambitious, you might even set a theme — think red-colored or heart-shaped foods only.
2. Have a rom-com watch party. While watching multiple romantic comedies in a single night might constitute a guilty pleasure on any other day, it is a rite of passage on Feb. 14. Gather up the blankets, grab some snacks and settle in with a sappy film. When Harry Met Sally is a classic, but if you prefer a more recent production, I recommend You People. Both are available on Netflix, alongside hundreds of other titles.
3. Make and exchange Valentine’s Day cards. Did anyone else make construction-paper cards to give out to the whole class in elementary school? Distributing those homemade cards into little paper-bag “mailboxes” serves as one of my warmest childhood memories, and I think it’s time to revive that practice. There are tons of templates online for inspiration, and some are even designed like coloring pages — all you have to do is print them out and provide crayons or markers. Whatever card-making looks like for you, I think it offers a wonderful way to spend time with and express gratitude for your friends.
4. Bake! For me, Valentine’s Day has and always will be synonymous with sweets, especially chocolate. Try baking with your friends for a fun activity that yields a tasty treat at the end. Depending on your personal tastes, you might try making chocolate covered strawberries or these sparkle sweetheart cookies. For those with dietary restrictions, these gluten-free Valentine Rice Krispies might pose a good option, too.
5. Finally, if you don’t feel like planning something yourself, check out these non-romantic events happening near campus. The Ivy Bookshop is hosting a Valentine’s Day “Booze and Browse” this Friday from 5–7 p.m. During this happy hour, enjoy complimentary beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and 50% off all art books. On Sunday, R. House is hosting the Greater Goods Valentine’s Day Market from 11–4 p.m. Vendors will be selling hand-crafted products like stationary, jewelry, body care and more! And of course, many restaurants offer Valentine’s Day dinner specials that are not exclusive to romantic couples. Nearby spots with Valentine’s Day menus include Dylan’s Oyster Cellar in Hampden and Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen in the Baltimore Museum of Art, located adjacent to campus.
In the words of Knope, Galentine’s Day is “the best day of the year”— but paying tribute to friends is not reserved for us “gals” only. Relationships based on platonic love merit as much celebration as those based on romantic love, so make this Valentine’s Day an occasion to acknowledge the people in your life who make Hopkins feel like home. Bonus points if you manage to sneak some self-love in there too, because at the end of the day, that might matter more than anything else.