Lifestyle & Human Interest

Is America Moving Toward a Non-Traditional Valentine's Day?


If you’ve been online, watched television, listened to the radio or even just gone shopping lately, there’s no way you’ve missed the fact that Valentine’s Day is coming up.

Unlike individual birthdays and anniversaries, which can sneak up on you dangerously quickly, no one involved in making money is going to let you forget that the day of hearts, roses and chocolates is just around the corner.

There’s definitely a push to spend a lot of money on this heralded holiday as well as the not-so-subtle implication that the amount you spend is directly equal to how much you care for the person you’re spending on. Lavish dinners and expensive jewelry are just two of the common suggestions we get blasted with as soon as New Year’s is over.

According to the National Retail Federation, 55 percent of people queried said they plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and those participants revealed that the average amount they plan on spending is $196.31.

Overall, based on participant responses, the NRF estimates that Americans plan on spending $27.4 billion on Valentine’s Day 2020, “up 32 percent from last year’s record $20.7 billion.”

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That’s a lot of cash for a holiday with murky origins, and some people are striking back and choosing to spend their money on something more significant than cardboard boxes of waxy chocolates, expensive cards or overpriced, crowded restaurant dinners.

Instacart has found the latter particularly true after referencing a poll of 2,000 Americans. The group discovered that — of those 2,000 people — while 51 percent favored the typical restaurant dinner, 49 percent would rather have a meal at home.

While there will no doubt be daring couples with culinary skills who make over-the-top dinners at home (and can access their own wine collection without that pesky corkage fee), many would be just as happy with a casual dinner featuring all-American favorites: fried chicken, BBQ, tacos or pizza.

“Valentine’s Day dinner doesn’t need to include fancy dishes,” the Instacart article read. “In fact, 41% of Americans say pizza is among the most underrated Valentine’s day foods, with 20% secretly wishing their partner would make pizza for their romantic meal at home.”

Of course, there’s a world of variation in the pizza department, from ordering ready-made to bake-at-home to carefully handcrafted from scratch — but pizza was definitely a frontrunner for many.

Instacart also determined that while 46 percent of polled American adults listed American-style cuisine as their go-to choice, Italian ranked at 44 percent and French at 22 percent, which shouldn’t be all that surprising.

Another enticing element of the at-home celebration is that there’s no need to dress up. Some couples may appreciate the chance to get out of the house and hit the town all dolled up, but 26 percent said that “one of the biggest benefits to making Valentine’s Day dinner at home is that they can wear their sweatpants.”

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Of course, Instacart has a reason to be invested in the responses that preferred cooking at home to going out, but it is true that many choose to celebrate from the comfort and relative frugality of their homes.

Whether you splash the cash on Feb. 14 or take a more conservative or at-home approach, have a very happy Valentine’s Day!

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