Throughout the ages (read: in the last hundred years, when Hallmark really stepped up its game), the problems associated with V Day have always seemed to far outweigh the benefits; the mass genocide of roses, the restaurants full of heart-shaped balloons and uncomfortably close tables, the admonitions by magazines to ‘go down on him with a rose in your teeth - mind the thorns!’ are all examples of the ways in which humanity throws itself forcefully into idiocy every time February 14th comes around. All too often, the date can turn the most soft-hearted romantic into the most hardened cynic, who would rather drown in the tears of gratitude of the nearest teddy bear recipient than stand another moment at a table in a central London restaurant as ‘My Heart Will Go On’ plays on repeat in the background. All this manufactured love can be difficult to bear, even if you actually have a partner to celebrate with.
So if you’re keen to avoid a last-minute V Day dash that ends up like that scene in Friends when Chandler considers presenting Monica with her own underwear, minus the crotch, then we’ve rounded up the - ahem - best ideas on the internet at the moment. And in no way should this be seen as a singleton’s efforts to sabotage your relationship from afar. In no way at all.
For the alcoholic in your relationship, there's nothing like saying, 'You're only fun and I'm only fit when you're drunk' like a bottle of wine inscribed with the slightly sinister message: 'Keep calm and drink on.' With subtle undertones of David Cameron telling MP Angela Eagle to 'Calm down, dear', and the distinct aroma of passive aggression, this one is best served with a hostile glare over sautéed chicken. Especially inappropriate if your spouse just completed her programme with Alcoholics Anonymous; however, a genius physical comeback to slam on the table during a V Day argument (so long as you don't mind the inevitable subsequent break-up.)
Hey, it's like chocolate divorce! For best effect, place your name over the 60% and let him know where he stands in the relationship, should it ever sour. Today it's a playful joke about candy treats, but tomorrow it's the house, the car, and 40% of the love of your children. Never, ever pair with an engagement ring.
Decided against the wine and the arbitrary chocolate divisions? Good choice, as she'll go mad for these bacon roses. A piece of bacon wrapped up in the shape of a heart says so much more than the transient life of flowers, who leave only decaying husks in their wake days after their arrival. Bacon roses, however, say, 'My love for you is delicious in every situation, the perfect complement to breakfast, and can sometimes be repurposed for an innovative comedic effect.' Of course, it may whisper, 'My love for you is like the curled flesh of a dead pig.' But if she's not listening to the overall narrative, then she's probably not tuned in to your life anyway. An excellent way to weed out the girlfriend who would otherwise go on to crush your hopes and dreams.
The lamb steak heart: an alternative to the above if your girlfriend is Jewish or Muslim. Lambs speak of springtime, carefree April days, and the newly refreshed libido. Hearts speak of love. No need to thank us.
Is your girlfriend in dire need of advice on how to be thinner, richer, sexier, kinder, saner, and happier? Perhaps she's a morbidly obese, homeless, permanently tracksuited puppy-drowner prone to auditory hallucinations? All will turn around once she's read through these arduous 1,000 ways in which she can become a slightly better woman.
But on a serious note: if you have to tell your girlfriend that she should be 'kinder' - or, indeed, 'saner' - then you're either in a horribly abusive relationship, or you're a total dickhead. In fact, these are the only two reasons why you would have bought the book in the first place. Ruminate upon which is true, then dump the book and do something about it. Quickly.
Even McDonald's itself seems to be advising against presenting these to your current lover, considering these Valentine coupons are clearly labelled 'Friend Pack' - and a friend is all you'll be if you present this to your BF or GF over the age of 13. But hey, only a fool would pass up a free McFlurry. If she's gonna get all high maintenance about it, however (despite the fact that McDonald's has this year promised 'candlelight and table service' - no word back yet on my enquiry over whether there will be erotic toys in the Happy Meals), you could always go all-out with...
...the Pizza Hut Proposal Package! Nope, it's not a joke - and they've even chosen the ring for you (it's ruby, as you can see, so you'll be missing out on the traditional diamond but gaining a whole load of cheesy goodness when you might otherwise have been miserably nibbling on some poncey pretentious canapé.) The dinner itself is a bargain at $10 in the good old US-of-A (appaz this package hasn't made its way over to Great Britain yet, but my fingers are tightly crossed) and they've thrown in a fireworks display because they're just cool like that. It's probably the best 10 grand that you'll ever spend.
But hey, what do you do after dinner? Well, if you're really committed to spending the rest of your lives together, then doubling up your appliances just makes good sense. Romantic sense. This double toilet set allows you to literally witness just how well dinner went down with your beloved. Share and care.
And while you're at it, why not start sharing underwear too? Half the 'fun' is getting into them, according to some savvy marketers, although I can imagine that trying to get your head (lol) around these probably ends up in just as much injury and argument. If plain old sex is good enough for you but you're still hankering over a shareable garment, then the makers of Fundies have also come up with a 'T-shirt For Two' that is available in all, er, respectable stores now. Something seems to have gone fundamentally wrong with the world when any of these were developed, but hey-ho, YOLO.
Or perhaps you were looking to stage a Twilight-themed Valentine's night? While we're waiting for your upcoming appointment at the Urgent Re-education Clinic, you can enjoy this pack of chocolate moulds, which are apparently in the shape of 'sexy lips with vampire teeth'. Just make sure your partner doesn't think it's a coded reference to vagina dentata, or you definitely won't be getting lucky tonight. But if you're old enough to want to theme your Valentine's around Twilight, then we're guessing that nookie is legally off the cards anyway. Not graphic enough for you? Then there's always...
...a 'sexy vampire bite' temporary tattoo, courtesy of some nutjobs behind an account on eBay. 'Amazingly realistic', apparently, so it'll look just like the last time you witnessed someone get their skin punctured by a mythological creature. And what else will your starry-eyed partner think except 'kiss me quick!' when you take off your scarf to reveal a playful allusion to someone sucking the haemoglobin out of you and replacing you with a walking undead corpse? Apparently can be removed with baby oil.
While we're on morbidity, why not show your romantic side by planning for her death? This advert, which has been making its gruesome rounds on the internet, really speaks to the heart at this special time of year. Apparently the 'perfect gift' is making 'pre-arrangements as a couple' with an 'affordable funeral home' (affordable, not extravagant. It's not her birthday.) Not to be announced while holding any gardening implements. On the bright side, it does show a solid commitment to staying together forever.
Intending to use V Day as a dumping device, but not sure where to start? You could 'hilariously' present them with these cuddly toy STDs, on sale especially for February. Perhaps you need to break the news to him about your affair with that hot lifeguard in Shagaluf, and the subsequent genital warts. Treat him to a distracting dinner, then playfully chuck over 'The Clap' and see how he responds. If it goes down badly, at least you've gained a cuddly friend and a permanent talking point.
But maybe you want to get serious about all this V Day stuff, and treat your boyf to a ramped-up version of your sweet, sweet body. In which case, good luck trying to get into any of the above items - and fair play to you if you can. To my expert eyes, they seem to fall into two distinct categories: 'necessitates the entire day off work to get into', and 'chronic waste of money because of the paltry material-to-price ratio.' Whatever floats your boat - and for the thrifty-minded, there's a lot that can be done with a piece of string.
It doesn't have to be all 'crotchless panty' this and 'nipple tassel' that; just check out this solid alternative, spat lovingly up from the Asda women's lingerie section. Yes, Asda is fully on the bandwagon with the finest of what Cupid has to offer - we'll never forget their 7p V Day card with the message, 'My love for you is priceless' - and who could say no to a sexy apron with 'Dressed To Grill' emblazoned across the fake tuxedo? Stick it on and service him in more ways than one. A real treat for under a tenner. That's Asda price.
If you're not a fan of the apron or the complicated lingerie, then this 'bondage mask' is here to represent the most ridiculous fever dreams of the designers at Ann Summers. We're unsure if he'll get that it's supposed to be a reference to S&M when he walks in and sees you dolled up in a diamanté-encrusted red eye mask, or if he'll just think that you've finally flipped your lid. Possibly more suited to amateur dramatics than the bedroom.
If you want your lover to sit down to a romantic breakfast and briefly panic that her entire life has been destroyed through spurious accusations in the press, get a realistic print of the Daily Mail with 'SARAH SMITH LEADS PORNO DOUBLE LIFE' headlined across the front. Great for if you briefly want to make them think that their job prospects have gone permanently down the pan, and then celebrate their subsequent period of elated relief over a furious lovemaking session. Emotions after the lovemaking session may run high, and not in the good way.
Perhaps you want a patriotic V Day? Assorted mankinis are on sale at the moment, and with this one, you can make the political point loudly and proudly that you only eat 100% British meat.
Finally, if you're looking to flip the stereotypical coin and get him to dress up for your pleasure, here's an 'army suit' (set of pants with a cap) that'll really get your pulse racing. Complete with belt of fake bullets, you'll feel slightly under threat as he caresses you between his rough soldier hands. Optional soundtrack of bullet recordings can make you feel as if you're in the centre of your very own war zone.
Not touched by any of these suggestions? Keep an eye out for our best recommendations on V Day cards, coming soon to an internet accessible device near you!