Can I be real a second? For just a millisecond? I’m a really fast learner.

I think we should normalize acknowledging our strengths, and I invite you all at your leisure to send me what you’re all great at. I would love to know. If you just want to say them out loud to your mirror, that’s good too. I’m here for it.

When asked in a job interview about my strengths, I say learning agility. I’m quick on my feet, I’m curious, I connect the dots, I synthesize information rapidly and apply it to new ideas and scenarios, and I can expand my skill sets on my own. I’m the first to just figure something out and the first to just research how to do something and get it done. It’s gotten me to where I am in my career—oh, do we need to build a store in 30 days? Style a dinner table in the middle of a river? Design new fixtures for Sephora? Get permits to take over Champs-Elysée? Figure out how to get fresh roses overnight in Perth? Customize a surfboard? How to install 3000 handmade concrete fish? Paint a carousel pony a brand color? Sure, I’ve got it.

In the early 2010s, there was an old Kate Spade notebook. Emblazoned on the cover it read: “she is quick and curious and playful and strong,” and, let me tell you, if that quote had been around when away messages where still a thing, it would have been a real banner headline for me. Luckily at the time, I was too cool for anything that felt earnest, and I would rather be caught dead than carry that notebook.  But let me tell you, it resonated.

This agility comes from my mother. Growing up, she always encouraged us to learn new things, to never be daunted by a new skill set, to be curious at every turn.  Each season brought something new—blacksmithing, weaving, riding, pottery, wood turning, botany, landscaping, music, floral design, basket weaving, dyeing, animal husbandry. We left our childhood home with a skillset suited for a very limited job market: Martha Stewart’s assistant or a 19th century Obermeisterin. A particularly vivid memory lingers of her dragging an enormous plywood board into the basement so she could learn to tap dance.

At the heart of it is research. My mother encouraged us all to learn to look things up, to study, to figure things out, to discover new things. So when it came time to write a last minute Valentine’s Day blog post for you, dear readers, you know I wanted to see what else was out there. I did a little perusal so you wouldn’t have to. I’m a researcher like that. You’re welcome.

My god, the internet is a dark and terrible place.  The crafts mine eyes have seen. The DIY I witnessed. The absolutely (are we still saying cheugy) cheugy selection of gifts handmade with love. The customized collection to say I love you. Page after page of listicles. 10 crafts you can get your children to help you make. 15 e-gift cards that won’t offend your Valentine. 20 gifts that say I like you, but I don’t love you yet, but would love to stay together.  Lovers, beware, you could be receiving some cutting boards in the shape of the state you met. I promise you right now, we will never carry these at Feste. It seems there are two camps. Camp it’s too late to buy something so make something. And Camp they’ll never know you waited this late if you plan an elaborate activity.

Yea, that’s a hard pass from me.

How did this get so ridiculous?

May I suggest we do things a little differently? Let me offer you my three tips for a (predictably) last minute anti-Valentine’s Day.

  1. You don’t need have a lover to be loved. Partners are great, but this holiday can be celebrated with your besties at a cotton candy colored bash, your dog dressed as Cupid, or alone with a good book, a vibrator, and a strong sense of self.
  2. Keep it simple. Thank God the days of Flash Mob romance is behind us—performative romance is de trop. Better to do something simple very well than sloppily execute something elaborate. Romance is intimacy in a nice dress.  Focus on celebrating connection, whatever that looks like for you, rather than creating something typically romantic.
  3. Fuck gifts, focus on getting together. Having had 18 Valentine’s with my husband and partner, I can tell you that I rarely remember the specific gifts, but I can tell you about when we’ve had a good time, when we’ve done something together, when we’ve traveled, or when we’ve just had a full day of blanket forts, games, and movies.

Sound good?

So whatever kind of celebration you’re having, or shenanigans you’re getting into, we’ve rounded up our favorite LoveFeste, MeFeste, UsFeste products for you here. We've done the research for you.

Read last week's Feste Practice about the ups and downs of Brenna's 19 Valentines with her husband.

We've also put together our 5 tips for stocking your bar for your next event.

February 09, 2022 — Brenna Gilbert