Why are we still bothering to go out on Valentine’s Day?

PUBLISHED: 20:30 25 January 2019

Valentine's Day dinner - worth the money or a waste of time?  Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Valentine's Day dinner - worth the money or a waste of time? Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto


Is February 14 just a marketing ploy or should be be making the effort to celebrate our love?

If William Hill did bets on Valentine’s Day disasters, my husband (of 15 years) and I would be odds on favourites for a calamity in 2019.

You see, it’s not an occasion we do very well at all. In fact, it’s become so habitually bad I don’t even look forward to it any more. Seriously.

Here’s a potted history of my marital V-Days.

2003: The one where we drank too much liebfraumilch at a Thai restaurant, I had a wardrobe disaster and Mr Jarvis told me repeatedly on the way home that he could “break through a brick wall with his bare fists”.

2005: When I was pregnant and the restaurant refused to leave the shallots off the green bean side dish accompanying my steak, leading to a scene involving me retching all the way (such a long way) to the toilets.

2006: Turning up to the wrong restaurant – we blame baby brain.

2008: The year Mr Jarvis made dinner (steak and chips, simple) and used all the pans. All of them. Dinner was served at 10pm and I was left to do the washing up the next day. Romantic. Not.

2009: The ‘do-over’ dinner to make up for last year. But my husband isn’t one to look at the ingredients as he buys them. Cue the shopping bag opening to reveal pork steaks instead of beef, a bag of browning salad leaves and a bunch of tiger lilies (almost dead).

2010: Cheese and wine night at home. What could go wrong? Except I wore white and we chose red wine which ended up all the way down the front. Also stinky cheeses aren’t very romantic.

2015: When we went to a restaurant and the serving staff practically ignored us for the entire evening. We had to ask to pay the bill four times and it was practically empty.

2018: Last year I started to come down with the proper flu on Valentine’s Day. Mr Jarvis had already opened the Champagne and didn’t want to waste it. He fell asleep at the dinner table…

Had these incidents been on any other day of the year, I scarcely think I’d have remembered them, but it’s the pressure of Valentine’s and having to be perfect for just one day, which makes them stand out.

Personally, I’d rather have romance throughout the year than be forced to put on a show on February 14. That said, should he forget to give me a card and/or present there will be hell to pay.

I’m not alone in thinking Valentine’s Day dinner is a big fat waste of time.

Emily Cotton from Suffolk said: As much as I’d love to be wined and dined at a fancy restaurant on Valentine’s, chances are, for that one day, prices are a hell of a lot more than usual, for pretty much the same thing! I’d be more than happy going out for a meal a day or two after February 14, or alternatively, a pizza and a bottle of wine at home would do me perfectly.”

But even these options have been capitalised on. Valentine’s is no longer just one day. Many restaurants run their set menus for a week or so, just in case us savvy diners try to pinch our pennies and eat out a few days before or after.

And even ready meal offers hike their prices for the occasion. The famed M&S Dine in for a Tenner offer usually doubles in price to £20. OK, so that’s not going to break the bank for many of us compared to eating out but still!

I love our columnist Lynne Mortimer’s guide to Valentine’s Day eating.

1-15 years of relationship: “Absolutely worth it. A nice venue. A night without the kids. The chance to remember why you fell in love. Sex when you get home.”

15-35 years of relationship: “Nothing to talk about. You end up reading aloud from the menu. Sex is not a given.”

35 years or more of relationship: “Can’t eat anything exciting in the evening – heartburn, indigestion. Sex pencilled in for weekends only.”

It is rather sad going out at Valentine’s and seeing all the couples around you who’ve obviously only ventured from the house because they ‘had’ to.

Husband and I, on previous ‘romantic’ dinners at ‘romantic’ places have had great fun working out what’s going on in the minds of the non-speaking pairs.

1. “Well this is costing me an arm and a leg and the steak isn’t cooked right but I can’t complain can I? Because I’ll never hear the end of it.”

2. “For this price there should be free bread? Surely they’re going to offer us free bread?”

3. “If I time it right I could slip to the toilets and check the footie results on my phone.”

4. “I could have made this better at home.”

5. “Stop talking and eat your frigging dinner so we can get home and watch Cold Feet!”

Although maybe I’m just being a big fat cynic. Emily Prince from Norwich said: “If it [Valentine’s] is used as a sort of excuse to put some time aside, to get dressed up and go out for a meal together, then it’s totally worth it.”

What do you think about dining out on Valentine’s Day? Maybe you have your own special tradition. Write to me

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