I have experienced 20 Valentine’s Days in my lifetime. Of those 20 love-drenched days, I have only been in a romantic relationship for two of them.
My earliest memories of this beloved holiday are mornings waking up to cards, chocolates and the occasional Webkinz from my parents. When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of decorating my valentine box and picking out the best tiny cards with precious trinkets to hand out to my class. I picture the sickeningly sweet and powdery cookies at the class party and the Pinterest-inspired games hosted by glowing parents full of love.
Although this day gets backlash for being for “couples only,” Valentine’s Day can be the perfect opportunity to spend a day speckled with red and pink hearts around anyone you enjoy. It is the best holiday for all, regardless of relationship status.
It can be a stressful day to plan for anyone wanting to have a fun time with friends, impress a loved one or treat a potential future partner. It can be even harder on a student budget in a small town like Oxford.
When I was a freshman, I started dating my boyfriend in January. Our first holiday together was Valentine’s Day here in Oxford. I was nervous about what we were going to do, since neither of us had a car and we had less than $100 in our bank accounts. But we figured it out.
This year will be our third Valentine’s Day on campus, so as a self-identified expert in date nights, I believe that there is so much more to do in Oxford for a lower price than one might expect. Valentine’s Day does not need to be elaborate or expensive and can be done successfully within a walking distance of any dorm or off-campus residence.
Whether you have been together for years or just started getting to know each other, I will walk you through the best places in our little college oasis to take your Valentine or Valentines and that will spark those warm and fuzzy feelings.
Rock climbing at the Rec
For the more adventurous type, the best Valentine’s option on campus is the bouldering wall at the Rec Center. This portion of the rock climbing wall requires no equipment (besides closed-toe shoes), is available for use any time the Rec is open and is completely free.
This is a great option for getting to know someone or a group of people. Bouldering gives you the opportunity to freely talk to each other and engage in conversation while doing a fun activity.
Ice skating at Goggin
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Another on-campus option that I highly recommend for a group of friends or a new couple is the Moonlight Skate on Saturday, Feb. 11th at Goggin Ice Center from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. This late-night event is date night-themed for the upcoming holiday, so you can expect some romantic tunes as you gracefully skate the ice with your loved ones. Moonlight Skate admission is free with a student ID and skate rentals are $3.50.
You’re Fired (Uptown)
If your friend group or partner is more on the artistic side, You’re Fired is the place to be on Valentine’s Day. This paint-your-own pottery studio in Uptown is a creative way to be yourself and get to know another person. On Feb. 14, You’re Fired will be having a “Date to Paint” night where the studio fee is 2-for-1, so two people can paint for only $8 plus the cost of the pottery. This is perfect for a small group of friends to pair up and connect on a deeper level.
A food tour
The ultimate Valentine’s Day activity for foodies is to do a food tour. This can be done at restaurants Uptown or in a dining hall. If you’re going Uptown, I recommend visiting different places for each course to enjoy a variety of cuisines. This can be easily done at the dining hall as well and could be fun to do a makeshift three-course meal. Each person can take turns picking out what the pair or group will have for an appetizer, entree and dessert, which is perfect for large groups with meal plans.
While Valentine’s Day has been historically disliked by non-couples, I believe it is the best holiday for everyone no matter if they are in a relationship. It gives you a time and a place to remind those around you that you love them and appreciate the role they play in your life.
This upcoming Valentine’s Day, remember that anyone can enjoy the red and pink hearts and the special date night events, because there is always someone in our life that we can shower with love.