For the past two years, junior communication and digital studies major Ken Hargrove has reserved a table at Cheesecake Factory to celebrate Valentine’s Day with his girlfriend. COVID has thrown a wrench in one of the couple’s favorite traditions.
“The pandemic really kept us from doing something we looked forward to every year,” said Hargrove. “This puts me in a really tough spot because I need to plan something that will make us both happy and keep us safe at the same time.”
While Hargrove is struggling to plan the perfect date, another couple seems to have already taken advantage of not having to dress up and go out this year. Youstina Mousa said that the pandemic has actually made Valentine’s Day easier and more special.
“It allows us to step away from how society views Valentines Day, and celebrate it in a way that is personal and meaningful to us,” said Mousa, a sophomore biomedical science major. “It also saves us the stress from having to run into the crowds that will await in stores for those last minute people that buy flowers the day of.”
This couple happens to live together off-campus, which allows them to safely spend time together.
For long distance couples who would have otherwise travelled to spend Valentine’s Day together, COVID can prove a particularly difficult challenge.
“I had been planning to go back home and visit [my girlfriend], but since her family is high-risk, it isn’t recommended for me to visit her,” explained Tessa Hammerstrom, a sophomore sociology major. “I am not really sure of how to make this day special over FaceTime. Does cooking for ourselves over the phone count?”
Hammerstrom described the options they have considered since being face-to-face is no longer available.
“I know many platforms, like Zoom or Netflix Party that allow us to view the same films while still being on call.” Hammerstrom explained. Netflix Party or screen-sharing on Zoom became a popular activity in the beginning of the pandemic, and could be a fun activity for long-distance couples.
Hammerstrom also gave advice on how to make the day special by sending out a handwritten letter and some flowers to their home. “That gives the same feeling as if things were in-person. They’ll be surprised when they open the door and see flowers. Who doesn’t love flowers?”
The great thing about having a safe COVID-19 Valentine’s Day is that couples can customize it fit their own needs. Don’t like dressing up? Stay home and cook dinner for each other, make it a competition. Don’t be afraid to bake an endless amount of goodies to last the entire month. Don’t know what to watch on your favorite streaming platforms? Play a game with the remote and Netflix’s search button: someone types a letter and the other picks a random title that comes up. If you’re really looking for a surprise, Amazon offers options for Next-Day shipping for the procrastinators to find a gift to send to someone’s home.
Celebrating a Valentine during COVID? There’s still plenty of ways to make someone feel special.