Ah, Valentine’s Day –– a holiday that evokes such a varied range of emotions depending on who you talk to. For those who are happily coupled up, it usually means a romantic weekend away or a candlelight dinner. For others (maybe those who’ve just gone through a breakup), it’s a dreaded holiday. And for those of us who are happily single, it can be affectionately referred to as Singles Awareness Day which we think is a pretty groovy nickname.
Regardless of which category you fit into, Valentine’s Day is going to take on an entirely different meaning if you’re newly sober. Even if you’ve been sober for a while, it’s nice to have a few booze-free (and drug-free) options to choose from, so we’ve created a list of sober Valentine’s Day date ideas. Whether you’re in a relationship, sobbing your way through a breakup, or single and ready to mingle along with your squad, we’ve got you covered.
Here Are 7 Cool Sober Valentine’s Day Date Ideas For You and That Special Someone:
- Dinner and a movie. We suggest you go to the movies and see a romantic comedy, even if it’s not totally your jam. It’s Valentine’s Day –– the one and only day to see a rom-com. Just admit it’s a guilty pleasure of yours. Okay, we play, we play. Go see whatever you want, but romantic comedies happen to be really fun on V-Day, and this is something you can do with your significant other, your friends, or even a casual second date. For the dinner portion of the date, those coupled up can choose a more upscale, romantic restaurant, but if it’s a more casual outing, make it tacos and horchata! The best part? The whole movie-dinner combo can be a totally booze-free affair. For dinner, of course, you’ll want to pass on the champs and the martinis and opt for a fruit mocktail or iced tea instead. But at the theater? Who gets wasted at the movies? Sure, many of us probably DID get sloshed once or twice at the cinema in our past lives (pre-recovery), but let’s face it, getting drunk at the movies is weird to most people.
- Go for a picnic. If weather permits, of course. If it does, a picnic with a little charcuterie, some olives, a baguette, and a few other little bites to nosh on can be quite the romantic gesture. It’s also a great idea for a friend outing. Single parent? Why not have a date day with your little mini me? He or she will love spending quality time with you! You can even swap homemade Valentines. Once again, there’s absolutely zero alcohol needed when you’re putting together the perfect picnic. Juice, water, iced tea, or even a nice little lemon spritzer (sparkling water + lemonade=easy) are all refreshing options. Add a little sunshine, a pretty public park, and your favorite people (or person) and you have yourself the perfect sober date. And if it’s rainy and gloomy, you can always order a pizza with your date, your pals, or your little one and just chill at home with a good movie.
- Volunteer. We’re big proponents of anything that involves being of service, and volunteering is a great way to spread the love on a day that represents...love. Maybe that means grabbing your pals and working at a soup kitchen on Valentine’s night. Or, perhaps you could grab your honey and go spend the day with some furry cuties at an animal rescue. There are also many ways to be of service to your recovery community, and this can be a particularly good way to get out of your head if you’re alone and sad on Valentine’s Day. If you’re in a twelve-step program, for example, you could offer to take on an extra meeting commitment, whether that means greeting at the entrance or signing court cards. This also connects you with your sober compadres which is always a bonus. If you head to an evening meeting, you’ll undoubtedly find a handful of solo members who are down for a big group Valentine’s Day dinner after the meeting. Being of service in any way, shape or form is ALWAYS a good idea.
- Are you near the snow? Make a Valentine’s Day themed snowman! Seriously, when is the last time you made a snowman? Head over to the arts and crafts store with your friends or significant other and get yourself a big heart-shaped button for the nose and eyes (or anything crafty and heart-shaped, really). Get creative, and don’t forget to toss snowballs at each other and make snow angels while you’re at it. Just play. Playing in the snow, once again, is a drug and alcohol-free way to have an absolute blast. And when you’re all finished, you can go inside and have a nice big mug of hot chocolate.
- Go for a hike. Hikes are always a good idea, and they’re also a great way to get your endorphins going and to feel good without drugs or alcohol. They can also be quite romantic if you’re going with your love, particularly if you go at sunset (or sunrise if you’re an early-riser). And, of course, hikes are fun with friends, kids and pets, too. Also, if you’re someone who tends to feel sad on Valentine’s Day when you’re not in a relationship, any form of exercise is going to make you feel better. It’s a great way to raise endorphins and to get that natural high pumping. You’ll feel so much happier afterwards, and a side benefit is that it’s good for your health. So, grab your beau, your lady, a sober pal, or a big group from your recovery community and hit the trails. Smile at strangers along the way. Wish them a happy Valentine’s Day. Spread the love. No alcohol or drugs needed!
- Flying solo this Valentine’s Day? Treat yourself to a spa day! Self-care is a great way to soak up all the love in the air on Valentine’s Day, and in the most sober way possible. If funds are tight and you can’t afford a full treatment, many spas offer a much less expensive option to just use the facilities. This usually means coming in and using the sauna, steam room, hot and cold plunge pools, and sometimes there’s even a gym. You still get to drink all the herbal-infused cucumber water you want, and spas almost always smell like lavender, eucalyptus and lemongrass which just adds that special little something nice. Especially on a day like Valentine’s Day. By the way, a spa day is also a great thing to do with your love or your sober pals, but we wanted to make sure that we gave all the people taking JUST themselves out a nice option, too.
- Go to a basketball game. Basketball is such a fun sport to watch live, and it’s a great way to bring some high-paced action into your night. Not only is it the perfect date night with someone you love, but it’s a really fun thing to do with friends as well. And, of course, while there are drinks served at the concessions stand, basketball games aren’t exactly drunk fests and you don’t have to partake –– stick with popcorn and lemonade. Plan an early dinner beforehand, too. Then, go watch your favorite team on the court! It can be as romantic or non-romantic as you want it to be. And let’s face it, checking out the kicks at a game is super fun, too (if you happen to have a shoe thing).
If you’re new in recovery and you’re not used to dating or socializing without alcohol or drugs, just know that it does get easier over time. It’s been our experience that the bonds formed in recovery are actually much stronger than they ever were in active addiction. We connect with people on a more personal level, and the coolest part of it all is that we get to remember everything the next day. There’s also no hangover involved. There are so many ways to spread love, enjoy the moment, and be of service on Valentine’s Day whether you’re single or in a relationship. Alcohol and drugs don’t ever need to enter into the equation, and who knows, you may grow to love this holiday even more in recovery.
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West Palm Beach, FL