well well well, hullo Mr. February!
As with every February, on the 14th (yes, every year ...it doesn't float about. Always on the 14th), our calendars have the title of St. Valentines. And in my experience, this yearly event has about the same level of LOVE/HATE response as the worldly Rose or humble Carnation. Uhm, yes. Really. People have as many varied opinions about Valentines' as they do certain blooms. Being a florist, I have often been on the receiving end of the proclamation , that's it's the fault of my industry (and a certain card company) that people are 'forced' to acknowledge these mood swing inducing events.
Ok, let's talk about this LOVE/HATE of a day. And if you choose to honour or spoil someone, I'll give you some honest and straight up tips, from myself: a floral designer & a woman. Because, yes, I too have a few opinions about the 14th... double obvi...
I have to say, of all holidays and special calendar days, I find that Valentine's is the most polarizing. For the same reasons that it's sweet, loving and romantic it is also the ugly opposite. It can be cliché, and laden with heavy expectations, conformity and obligation. People, Valentine's isn't easy for everyone....even I have a challenge when sending out my eBlast with a Valentine's offer, I generally try to have a cheeky and perky tone.
I first learned of Valentine's, in primary school- it would have been grade 2 or 3ish for me...My family immigrated to Canada, and I was learning about North American culture through the public school system and TV. Once I grasped onto what the hoopla was about, I generally dreading this day... The grade school activity of drawing and decorating of the sandwich bags, that would be taped to the back of our kid chairs, was fun! Yes, I enjoyed the ‘arting’ part of it. But when we were instructed to swarm the classroom to doll out the 'love notes'? Ugh- I wanted to disappear- I was nervous, anxious, scared and I really just wanted to not be part of it. It was, like an early form of Survivor to me. If you didn't have enough votes, you weren't liked, and it was for all to see when we sat down and opened our kraft baggies to see how many heartfelt scribbles we had accumulated. It was DREADFUL! I was new, I didn't quite 'get it' (why do I have to write everyone a card? do I have to give one to the mean kids? will they be meaner if I don't? or will they make fun of me if I do?) and I was scared of giving 'love' notes to kids I didn't know- heck I was still in ESL special classes, so I barely even understood them. Not fun, for little Bella.
Well, as an adult- I can see that the same emotions can hit many of us now too. I mean, St. Valentine's can have such a different meaning depending on your relationship, or lack thereof or even where you are in a coupling... did you just start dating someone? are you happily married? are you coupled and needing to break free? what if you're single, and all you see is the fake sugary pinky and red hearts everywhere and want to just rip them down and scream "I'll never have a soul mate!"? Or are you in a relationship and love to surprise one another and focus on the charm and whimsy of the worldwide romance of the day? Do you feel forced to bring flowers and chocolates to your partner? Are you wishing for a kanoodle, but know you'll get the rolling eyes? or have you dusted off your boa and planning your '7 days of pink'?...here's the thing, I personally GET IT ALL. I really do.
My opinion on this whole thing with the cupid stuff is this: you should be going out of your way, and loving your paramour and letting them know they are adored everyday. And twice on Sundays! I don't think the loving and romantic gestures should be whipped out on just one day. You & your loverly belong on pedestals everyday.
And I think that whatever works for you, is what you should do. If you love chocolate? Great, get some. If you don't have a sweet tooth then don't get candy, just because everyone else is. I think that we're at a time and place where it is ok, and encouraged, to edit these 'holidays' to our own tastes. I know many events are over-merchandised and there is SO much out there showing us what we SHOULD be doing, with whom and how. It's overwhelming. I think that Valentines can have a sweetness to it, if we make it our own, and not build up too much faux hype. Love has a different meaning to most of us, and how we show it and receive it can vary from one person to another. That's why I think, that if you're going to DO Valentine's, then do it without the outside noises of HOW you should be going about it. Customize it!
If you are a flower lover, and this is your meter for honouring and pleasuring, here are some hints from me, on how to do flowers at valentine's...
ditch the dozen reds... the classic floral symbol of love, worldwide, has been a dozen red roses. But in more cosmopolitan areas this has become a tired trend of the eighties. Stick to this if you’re the uber traditional, old school type. But it’s not the norm in floral love currency anymore.
Plus the prices for roses are jacked up, generally from Jan 31st until just after the 14th (that's why offer my vip's an early order offer ). The red rose can be triple its regular price, because growers can only plant so many in their fields and greenhouses- so they charge us more for them at Valentines. (Hannukah prices peak for white & blue blooms, and ditto for reds & whites at Christmas time) ...plus, there are different 'quality' levels of roses. Therefore the higher the quality the more you are paying AND due to the overextended market you aren't going to get the best quality of red rose, that you normally would.
I personally am really fond of roses, my preference are the local sweets (they open long & wide and have a big aroma for a small head), spray roses, garden roses, cabbage roses, and any of the premium ones. Generally, I like the bigger heads, that open slowly and last longer. But again, I am a fan of the rose- just not in a structured dozen. I like to have a few blooms tucked into an arrangement with other flowers, or en masse with interesting foliage. And never with babies breath, that's just wrong. But I wouldn't stipulate that is must be 12 stems. The number means nothing, if the composition isn't attractive. It just must look gorgeous- and imo, a dozen generally isn't enough.
bigger is not better...that's right. It's not. Here I am specifically referring to the 'long stem' concept. Let's think this through. Flowers are very pretty, and the way to enjoy them visually, is to look into them. If you have a tall vase with tall flowers, unless the buds are up the stem (like a delphinium) or angled heads (like lillies, sunflowers ) you aren't seeing the blooms. To enjoy flowers, is to have them in your eyesight, ergo, at a lower level. So if you are sitting, they should be under your eye line- not in your eye line, and interfering with you seeing the person seated across from you.
Now, generally, the longer the stem (this is normally the case with roses, and that's probably how this silly trend began) the bigger the flower head. When florists buy flowers, we often buy longer stemmed ones, so that the blooms are bigger- (like the point above, this means they cost more). Now, the reality is this: that stem is going to be cut down, and in my case, often used in a vase that is 4 to 6 inches tall, so you can enjoy the beauty of the head staring at you, as it opens over many days.
IF you do get tall flowers, I would urge you to cut the stems down and use a vase that is up to about 5 inches tall. Have the heads lean, about an inch, above the rim of the vase. Then display them where you spend most of your time, so they are around you, and you them. This is how to enjoy flowers.
you get what you pay for... Flower prices are higher at peak holiday times, so I would recommend that you spend a bit more, then you would normally, to get what you are accustomed to. Look to spend at least 20% more, at high times. My personal average, for everyday orders is in the 100-150.00 range, but because growers are requesting higher prices, what you are getting may look like it's in a lower bracket. ( that's why I offered my VIPs a special this year for being my valued clients.
At high holidays, if you are watching your budget, you might want to get your flowers POST the event. And, quite frankly, this is quite romantic....to send flowers after a wonderful time spent together? now that is the epitome of being positively debonair.
#redschmed... Yes, even in colour theory classes, Red = Passion. Love. et al....but what if red isn't your thing? For instance, me, I'm not 'a red'. I can design beautifully with red, and have friends who LOVE the reds. But it's not my thing- so if you're sending lovey-dovey flowers to someone who isn't into red, then don't send reds. The point of the gift is to acknowledge the recipient, and the occasion. If flowers are your way to do so, great- if they love purples, then that is the palette you should request. I've heard many people, once they know my industry say that they don't do Valentines, " because it's all red. I just don't like it"...well, great news! you don't have to do red, or even pink. I officially absolve you of the colours that don't spank your fancy! Ta- da. And so it is.
pretty please, pre-order…omg. This is SO SO SO important. Please pre-order. Did you know, we are getting valentine's prices and order requests from our Wholesalers mid-December? Really. Whether you are ordering for pre, during or post- when it comes to special dates, it's really in your best interest to order earlier with your florist. This way we can plan better to have the most gorgeous product for you.
delivery daze... Some florists have their own in-house delivery vans. Others, like myself, hire a delivery service or use reliable couriers, or even get in our own cars and hand deliver ourselves. To request a specific delivery time isn't generally going to work on these special days. The volume of deliveries that are being handled is huge, and other variables (traffic, weather, et al) make it impossible to guarantee a time. If you really want the flowers at a specific time, I would recommend having the flowers delivered to you the day before, and then you can bring them with when you see your lover the next day. Order an arrangement- not cut flowers or a bouquet- you want the flowers already designed, in a vase and in treated water- that's how your florist will have it delivered to you. Yes they will be okay overnight in an office environment. No, don't leave them in the car if it's freezing or sweltering (wherever you are geographically) AND YES, chose delivery over 'dropping in at the florist, on your way home'...By then, chances are, your florist is either sold out of flowers, on delivery, or into the scotch cheering on you and your lucky love bird!
You’ve read my words. You’re now set to ponder your position, and do as you please! My only last addition, is that whatever you do, please, do it with love. Your truth based love. Then it will come from the right place, and it will be the right thing to do. And if you don’t know what that means to you yet, try a few things out, ask questions. And be open. Love is a beautiful thing, and shouldn’t be forced on you.
love & light....xb