Ah, Valentine’s Day. For many, it rings with a sweet undertone, promising a day of candy, flowers and stolen kisses. For others, nothing but hollow pangs of dread.

Yes, having a boyfriend or girlfriend on Valentine’s Day is very nice. After all who doesn’t like exchanging corny Sweetheart candies and an affectionate note here or there? However, the holiday does often seem to lead to unnecessary pressure.

If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, you would naturally feel obligated to get your significant other a gift. He or she would expect it. But didn’t you just a scant month and a half ago purchase him or her a Christmas present? I know I certainly haven’t paid off my bills from Christmas/Chanukah gifts for my friends yet. Plus, in January and the first week of February there are, I kid you not, five birthdays in my family. By Valentine’s Day, it’s like my bank account is starving.

You would think that Valentine’s Day only exploits those in love, but in reality this is a far cry from the truth. Everyone remembers exchanging little gifts or cards featuring Disney characters with all members of your class in elementary school. While fun when you’re five, this practice sets a precedent and makes us females, at least, believe that we must buy a cute, tiny gift for all our friends. Just like every other holiday, this one has been taken over by our consumer society as well.

Think about it: you can’t go anywhere this time of year without seeing red frilly hearts, or Cupid posters, or those adorable little bears in CVS you know your friends will love. Even grocery stores display hundreds of red balloons with sayings like “Be Mine.” It’s hard not to buy something.

Americans play right into this. We purchase the bear, stock up on the chocolate, and give out the cards. In 2009, the National Retail Federation calculated that we spent 17 billion dollars for Valentine’s Day. Apparently, expenditures increase by seven percent each year.

I don’t even want to look at the Christmas statistics.

Don’t worry everybody. There is a way out of this rut. If you are fortunate enough to have a significant other in your life, kudos. Go with the Sweethearts. If not, I recommend my approach from a few previous years: a foolproof, inexpensive tactic for a fun-filled celebration.

Last year, I visited my best friend and we spent the day making each other construction paper cards, eating chocolate, reading aloud passages from a book entitled “I Hate Valentine’s Day” borrowed from the library, and watching “John Tucker Must Die” on a rented DVD. Best Valentine’s Day I ever spent.

I’ve spent the past three VDays with my friends following a similar format. Why? None of us have found our significant others, or even another in whom we had slight interest. But mainly, it was because we all had less than fifty bucks to our names.

So whether you are single or taken, get together with someone and watch a good comedy. Order pizza, and for dessert, pig out on the junk food your roommate received from his or her boyfriend or girlfriend, because let’s be honest, one single person could never consume all that on their own. You’ll eliminate expensive dinner dates and superfluous gifts no one knows what to do with.

I guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself — and your wallet will thank you.

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