Valentine's Day isn't just a day for romantic love. It's a day to celebrate anyone who's special to you. And where would you be without your BFF?
At TLC, we couldn't live without our BFFs. No matter how many years pass or how many kids we add to our brood, there's something about hanging out with the girls that makes us feel young (and fun!). So here are a few ideas to toast your girlfriends this Valentine's Day.
OK, this is an obvious one, so let's get it out of the way first. Getting a pedicure, manicure, massage, facial or other spa treatment is a glorious way to spend a Valentine's Day - especially if you get to do this pampering while spending time with your best friend (or friends). If you don't know where to start, SpaFinder.com might lead you in the right direction. But more often than that, your local massage therapist or spa will have excellent Valentine's Day deals - doesn't matter if you buy it for yourself instead of your lover!
DIY Alternative: Say Spaaaaaah
Let's face it. A conservative spa day usually starts at several hundred dollars. So how can you plan it so that you and your girlfriends spend $10 at most? A DIY Spa Party. The idea: Everyone brings over several shades of nail polish, their own mani-pedi tools (or use disposables), moisturizers, skin treatments, face masks and scrubs. Also key: p.j.'s, robes and other comfy attire. (Gossip, movies, music optional.)
Kiss and Makeup?
Feb. 14 is a great day to take advantage of free consultations and makeovers. (And don-t forget to ask for free samples along the way.)
Sephora, the makeup and perfume store found in most malls these days, has quite a few Valentine-s Day specials and events going on across the U.S. Artists and representatives from various makeup and skincare companies regularly frequent the store, though, and as long as you-re willing to wait in line for a bit, you can get made up for your night out for $0. Other mall shops like Origins or Aveda will also give makeup consults - just call ahead to make sure your region's shop is included.
Alternatively, go out makeup-free - first stop: the makeup counter at Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Macy-s or your favorite department store. Have an artist doll you up and give you tips on what looks good on you for your skin tone and hair color - all for free. It will only cost you if you decide to buy a product.
Why drop $50 on a foundation or moisturizer that may not look good on you once you venture out into the non-fluorescent world? Instead, invite your girlfriends over for a product trial night. All you need to provide is throw-away eye shadow applicators and plenty of cotton balls and swabs.
How often do you and the girls decide to get dressed up and hit the casino for the evening? Quite a few casinos across the U.S. have special deals, just for single women. Example: Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn., is offering a "No Boys Allowed" package at $239 a person that includes free martinis, mani-pedis, in-room martini stations and one free $10 bet.
Don't have a casino near you? How about a poker night in your town? Check the local paper to see if the United Way or another nonprofit is having a charity game. Have a great time, spend little cash and know that your dollars are going to benefit someone who needs them!
DIY Alternative: High-Rollin' at Home
No need for casino attire for this do-it-yourself event. All you need are some comfy clothes and the beverages of your choice. (Mysterious shades optional.)
Decide first what kind of games to play. Will it be an evening of Texas Hold'em? Seven-card stud? Will there be first timers in your group who need a primer on the game? Does everyone know the different hands and how to bet? Most importantly... does it really matter? It's just a game, right? And you don't even need to use real cash.
When you get tired of poker, there are plenty of other competitive or leisurely card games to play - or just sit back with a cocktail and watch the pros on television.
We can't all make the trek to Napa Valley or Italy for a proper wine tasting, but going to a local event is a great way to get your BFF out on the town. For example, $139 will get you a full day's tour of Boulder Creek Winery in the Denver area; for $99, you can spend "Valentine's in the Vineyard" at Vino 100, Round Rock, Texas. Hundreds more wineries and restaurants with great wine lists are having special events, so check your local paper or call your favorite bistro.
A Tasty DIY Alternative
Hosting a wine tasting is a lot of fun, but can be pricey. Our suggestion: Have friends bring over their favorite vino - (and feel free to ask them to bring a complementing cheese or chocolate if they'd like).
TLC's Wine Guide and HowStuffWorks' "How to Host a Wine Tasting" article will help you to learn to pair wine and educate your BFFs. Use these key resources for advice like, "Work though a meal from lighter, drier wines to heavier, sweeter ones," and you can't go wrong. Or, get a little more down to earth with PlanetGreen.com's wine feature to get hints about which vineyards use organic grapes and how you can reduce your carbon footprint while still uncorking a great (reusable) bottle.
Provide tasting cards so that friends will walk away knowing their new likes and dislikes, and don't forget to have plenty of water and some good bread on hand for in between tastings.
BFF Date Night
Our suggestion for a perfect night out with your best girlfriend: small plates and big drinks over a nice, long evening.
- Step 1: A few days in advance, make reservations at three restaurants. Start in the late afternoon, before the V-Day date night crowds start rolling in.
- Step 2: Arrange for cabs to pick you up and drop you off at the destinations of your choice.
- Step 3: Get dressed up, but not in that tight "little black dress" you reserve for dates - make sure you're comfortable.
- Step 4: Let your waiter/waitress suggest the restaurant's signature appetizers and best cocktails at each destination. If the appetizers aren't appealing, consider splitting their most popular dish instead.
- Step 5: End your evening with an apéritif or espresso at a café.
DIY Alternative: Date Night at Home
- Step 1: Each of you decide on one appetizer or dish. (Hint: Try a recipe from a famous chef's menu.)
- Step 2: Make the cocktails a surprise - be inventive.
- Step 3: Plan an activity between your rounds of appetizers (How about watching a recorded episode or two of TLC's What Not to Wear or playing cards?)
- Step 4: After your second round of appetizers, prep that espresso machine or make an indulgent drink that includes chocolate.
- Step 5: Still arrange for that taxi cab home if you are drinking, or crash at your BFF's house.
Pack Your P.J.'s
Valentine's Day is the perfect time to have an all-out girl night. Themes can run the gamut, but here are a few ideas to start with:
Popcorn and Chick Flicks
This one is about as cliché as the spa idea, but we'd be remiss if we didn't include it. We do, however, suggest you skip the more contemporary movies such as Bridget Jones's Diary and go for the classics. Gone With the Wind or Breakfast at Tiffany's, anyone?
Voodoo Doll Making
How cathartic would it feel to stab needles into a voodoo doll representing that boy who broke your heart in college or the high-school cheerleader who stole your boyfriend? Not the malicious type? Great! Use your doll to attract love or healing instead. (Note: Dolls can be homemade or bought at a local craft store.)
"Stitch 'n' bitch" nights were en vogue a few years back, about the time that knitting circles made their comeback. Consider having a craft night at home that could also include scrapbooking, beading or jewelry making. Share your mad skills - and cool materials - with the group.
Book It, Baby
You meant to do it for a New Year's resolution and didn't quite make it. February is a great time to start a book club. Brew some joe or hot chocolate for your fellow bookworms, start your book lists and plan your meetings. (There's that extra incentive to stay in bed on Saturday mornings with a good book - hooray!)
For Culture Vultures
Valentine's Day is on a Saturday this year, which means there are great ways to do some exploring in your city or town. Check to see if your favorite museum has a new exhibit or if a traveling show is in town. But - if you can - skip the crowds: Our suggestion is to stick with out-of-the-way galleries or art shows.
Also check to see what traveling shows are in your city. For example, the lauded "Bodies: The Exhibition" is appearing in Atlanta, Puerto Rico, Indianapolis, Las Vegas and New York City. Cirque du Soleil is on tour in New York and Orlando, while the Blue Man group, aside from their usual Vegas act, has shows in New York, Boston and Chicago.
DIY Alternative: Culture for Under $10
Homebodies can get cultured, too, you know. How about renting an HD series about cultures across the world or Netflixing some must-watch documentaries or foreign films? While you're at it, cook up some international foods.
Budget Sports Night
Thinking about a bit of budget-friendly competition on this Valentine's Day? There are plenty of ways to get sporty this year, while spending fewer dollars than usual.
Dave and Busters is a fun place to go if you have one in your area. At this nationwide chain, you can play everything from video games and Skee Ball to billiards and shuffleboard. ESPN Zone has a similar draw, with extra emphasis on sports-watching, too. It's also got simulation golf, boxing and bowling. Both establishments have full bars and plenty of food; plus they offer game cards you can redeem along the way.
Another idea: Hit the gym together. It will help you and your BFF de-stress, bond and feel a whole lot better about chillin' out with a nice big latte later in the evening.
DIY Freebie Alternative:
While romantic couples are going out as a "we," you and your friends stay home and play Wii - (or Rock Band, Guitar Hero or whatever cool games you have).
A Night of Mystery and Mystique
Ever wanted to know what your future holds? What others think of you? What the lines on your hands or your personal aura say about you? You aren't alone. Millions of people each year visit hypnotists, psychics and palm readers. Though these types of services are more concentrated in large cities, a quick glance through the phone book or a Google search is bound to surface some names in your own town.
DIY Mystic Night
Why go out for the occasion? Hire an astrologer, tarot card or palm reader to come to your house and lend some insight into your future. Some will also offer handwriting analysis or do numerology to help define you. Alternatively, ask your girlfriend with tarot cards to join the party.
Oh, c'mon. Don't think you haven't thought about it already - hitting the local sex shop for a little Valentine's Day fun? While it's always fun to go with a significant other, it's just as fun to go with a best friend or a group. (Where else are you going to get ideas for your next sexy rendezvous?)
While you're there, try on some sexy leather corsets or other sexy get-ups, just for fun. (Don't forget the platform boots.) Pick up a blindfold, massage oils, feather boa, or a dirty card game for you and your significant other.
Alternative for the Bashful:
We get it: Even if just for fun, sex shops aren't for everyone. Instead, hit your local mall with your BFF girlfriend - the one who will tell you the honest truth about how you look in a certain outfit - and try on some crazy hot get-ups. Hit the "little black dress" section, sexy shoe department and, of course, the lingerie shops. Pick out sexy accessories, too. It's fun to browse, even if you don't buy!
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