For many of us Valentine's Day is a big bummer. We're single and searching, coupled and miserable or just not into being forced to feel romantic and perform mating rituals for the occasion. Even though we like to joke about what a pain in Cupid’s ass Valentines Day can be, it can be truly depressing for many. Suicide hotlines report a large jump in calls on V-day, showing that for some this exclusionary holiday is more than just a minor annoyance.
Many of us lash back by going full on anti-Valentines. We embrace bitterness, black hearts and celebrate sarcasm. And while hanging out with Grumpy Cat in a dark room listening to the Cure can be fun for a while, there is an even better solution to the romantic pressure and rampant consumerism of Valentines Day: The Friendship Celebration (also know as a Palentines Day Party).
Friendship is a serious part of health and happiness, yet once we hit our grown up years we often neglect our friends to focus on partners, start families and ramp up our careers. Gradually, often without noticing, we put on our big girl or boy pants and stop going out to play. This is a big mistake. According to Tim Roth author of Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without married people say friendship is five times more important than sex, people who have BFF’s at work are seven times more likely to enjoy their jobs and you are five times as likely to eat healthy if your best buddies do as well. These are just a few of friendships perks.
The Friendship Celebration is fun, meaningful and doesn't leave anyone lonely and shivering out in the cold. I threw a friendship celebration on Valentine's Day weekend and it was way more fun than any “regular” party I've been to in a while. Here's what I learned and how you can throw your own soul buddy bash.
Invite a wide variety of people including those you don't know very well, new peeps in town and especially shy types. Ensure them that the party is all about having fun and there will lots of games and actives to make interacting easy. Encourage your guests to bring their friends or potential friends. Let them know that while couples are allowed to attend, flirting, kissing and other forms of cutsie behavior are strictly prohibited.
A good ice breaker is the famous friends guessing game. Choose characters from ensemble cast TV shows such as the Golden Girls, Friends or Sex in the City (or books if you're fancy). Tape the name of a fictional friend on each persons back and have them ask questions to try and figure out who their secret friend is.
There should be at least one activity that evokes simpler times and nostalgic childhood friendships. I had a friendship bracelet making station and a manual typewriter for writing friendly notes. Making cootie catchers or any other old school craft or activity would also work well.
I love trivia and created these friendship themed questions for the occasion (send a comment and I'll send them your way). Have people get into small groups, give their teams goofy names and then play together.
Play the “Friendship Dating Game.” This is based on the cheesy classic TV show the “Dating Game” from the 1970’s in which one lucky contestant gets to interview three prospective suitors and then go a date with the most promising one. In the old show the contestant couldn't see the potential dates, but because friendship isn't usually so appearance based this is optional. Sample questions include:
What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday with a friend?
You start a band with your friends describe your sound.
What are the top three qualities you look for in a friend?
I recommend a pottery painting or mini golf date for the lucky winners.
So if this Valentine's Day was a bummer for you, get proactive and make next year way better. Help others feel included and connected, have some silly old fashioned fun and hopefully make a new friend along the way. Because ain't it good to know, “you got a friend?"