5 Nontraditional Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day in College

It doesn’t have to be about roses and chocolate; here are other ways to spread the love on February 14.

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Valentine's Day on campus can be awesome—or awful. Even if you're paired up, the holiday imposes a lot of pressure on its celebrants. Presents, dinner out, flowers, and other expectations can all lead to a costly, chaotic day instead of one focusing on fun and romance.

With a little creative thinking, however, you can turn Valentine's Day into something positive and memorable without busting your bank account and, perhaps most importantly, with or without a partner.

Here are a few tips:

1. Consider volunteering: You don't have to be in a relationship to spread the love! Consider volunteering on Valentine's Day if you're looking for something new and unique to do. You'll give back to your community, have fun, and enjoy yourself with others. After all, when's the last time you felt bad after volunteering somewhere? Find an organization or project that connects with your passion and volunteer to your heart's content.

[Learn how to turn community service into college cash.]

2. Plan a campus event around relationship issues awareness: Whether or not you've been involved in an unhealthy relationship, chances are you know someone who has been. And while a campuswide program on an issue such as relationship violence may not sound romantic at first, it can be a great way to promote awareness and help reinforce the reality that everyone deserves to be treated with love, kindness, and respect.

Talk with some counselors on campus, call someone off campus who works with survivors of relationship violence, and plan a program that lets your fellow students know what a healthy, supportive relationship can look like.

3. Plan a campus event around loving yourself: As the saying goes, it's hard to love someone else if you don't love yourself first. And college students face a range of issues that can interfere with having a healthy, loving self image. Consider planning a program that raises awareness about eating disorders, unhealthy drinking behaviors, self harm, safe(r) sex options, or other issues that are important to you and your fellow students.

[Read how colleges are promoting healthy eating.]

4. Attend or plan an event on having a fun, healthy sex life: It's no secret that a large number of college students are sexually active. And whether that means your long-term relationship with your partner or your roommate's casual hookups, it's important to know how to be safe in any situation. Talk with people on campus who work in the health center, peer sex educators, professors who teach about sexuality, or anyone else who might help make an interesting—and nontraditional—panel for a Valentine's Day program.

5. Do something simple and fun with just your friends: You don't need to have a partner or a large bank account to have a nice time on Valentine's Day. Consider cooking dinner for your nearest and dearest friends, making gifts for under $5, playing an intramural game where the losing team has to do something nice for the winning one, or even just giving a little love to your bodies—through something like a nice hike and healthy dinner afterward—sometime during the day. Flowers and chocolates can be nice, but the feeling that comes with a little TLC can last far longer.

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