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The Joys of Valentine's Day
Life and Style

Valentine’s Day – The 'six commandments'

By Marie Decreme

Everyone knows Valentine's day is a critical day for men: judgment will be passed, wrath will be felt...It’s even enough to strike terror into the most romantic and amorous of boyfriends, whose defensive approach of the 14-02 is focused on escaping from their girlfriend's criticisms or anger. Poor us. Males actually know that missing Valentine's day – or failing in illuminating their girlfriend's evening and night – dramatically and irreparably undermines their credibility as the perfect boyfriend/husband. However, should we pass this 'exam' smoothly, we can be sure we will enjoy a whole year (or month, or week, depending on the girlfriend's personality) of peace, passionate love, and serenity. As a consequence, - guardian angel for couples in France and the UK – has decided to provide you with 6 useful tips - one per day - to be the perfect Valentine and successfully emerge from this minefield of a day criticism free, and maybe even with some extra brownie points...

First commandment: thou shalt dodge thy girlfriend's traps

From 'How to lose a guy in ten days'

As you may have noticed, women are keen on testing and challenging their boyfriend's thoughts, reactions, and initiatives. Unfortunately for us, Valentine's Day may be the best day for her to play this ever so slightly sadistic game. Let me explain. Has your girlfriend ever said: 'Oh don't worry about Valentine's Day, it is just a commercial event' or, even more double-dealing: 'Valentine's Day ? Oh don't worry about giving me a present'. Unless your girlfriend is a unique specimen, these kinds of sentences are entirely false, and nothing more than highly dangerous traps. So be on your guard, and think about it: can you reasonably imagine that your girlfriend would not be interested in receiving a gift ? Maybe she does not want THE best present, but at least you have to celebrate it properly. I mean : don't ruin yourself, but don't forget the sacrosanct equation : Valentine's day = Flowers + Cards + Romanticism.

Second commandment: thou shalt get prepared for operation commando

From 'Mister and Miss Smith'

On 14th, you will need to be in peak physical condition: stamina, energy, good heart pressure and a resilience to stress are necessary to give your best performance. This is why I advise you to go to bed early on the 13th (no shaking it up nor beer&pizza parties with friends the night before) and sleep right through the night. Valentine's Day will be hard and long. On the D-Day, do not plan any important meetings which would be likely to last: you have to go come back home early. But the physical preparation must have started at least one week before the 14th. May I recommend, as part of the preparations that you pull out your copy of Rocky: even he didn't forget to celebrate Valentine's Day with Adrian! And grab a few training tips from the legend while you are at it: punching carcasses in meat factories, downing yolks for breakfast, and all this while singing 'Eye of the Tiger to yourself': Virile, Manly! Grrr!

Third commandment: thou shalt find the perfect place to take her

From 'Notting Hill'

Do you prefer playing away or at home? It is really about where you will best be able to work your magic... and your budget. Realistically, we can't all afford to take our girls out to 3 Michelin Starred candle-lit dinners, but if the wallet won't stretch to somewhere nice, for goodness sake don't make the mistake of thinking that anywhere will do as long as you're taking her out. A romantic home cooked meal is infinitely preferable to a meal-deal at Nandos. However, don't forget that spending Valentine's Day at your place means you will have to cook. For the unseasoned chefs out there, this may sound scary, but it can actually be reasonably straight forward. The question is what to cook on the night... my personal choice is this delicious and - even for me - easy to prepare menu:

  • Foie Gras on toast with fig chutney on a bed of rocket salad
  • Seared Tuna with fresh pasta topped with a sun dried tomato sauce
  • Chocolate fondue with strawberries
  • And for drinks: Champagne, of course (or Cava if you think she won't notice- it's your head, mate)

If you prefer going to the restaurant (I am one of them), then be sure you book it early, as on Valentine's Day restaurants claim that it is one of the only week-night in the year when they do not need to advertise to have a full house. And above all : choose a romantic place (ie: fast-foods, pizza and curry joints are banned on Valentine's Day).

Fourth commandment: thou shalt not forget the card and the flowers

The bare minimum is giving your Valentine a card. As a Frenchman, I must admit this is a relatively new concept to me. Surprisingly for a country of "romantics" in France, you would be considered a bit fuddy-duddy if you gave a card to your girlfriend. But it seems to be a must-do in London. And I must admit I actually quite like the idea. There are two key issues about giving a card: the card in itself, and the moment you give it. First of all, don't choose old-fashioned patterns – you are not celebrating Valentine's Day with your grandma. Moreover, you should forego buying a big one: anything that would make your girlfriend look ridiculous while carrying it will not be appreciated. Second thing to consider is when and where you should give it? Sending it to her office would be quite elegant, but leaving it in an improbable place could be equally appreciated (mirror in the bathroom, handbag, table...). The last issue is about writing a good message. Do you need to write with Shakespeare-like style? No you don't. Do you have to write in rhymes? No you don't. If I had one thing to tell you, it would be 'be simple, but be good'. Be careful about spelling. Writing her name correctly is always a good start. And just a reminder: 'I love you' is not a swearword, you don't have to use it sparingly.

Another essential point: to my mind, roses are unmissable, even if they quadruple to eye-watering prices on Valentine's Day. Ask her what her favourite number and buy said amount of roses. Note: people very rarely favour double numbers, so fingers crossed you could avoid the bankrupting red dozen. If she does through a wild card your way though with 24 or something ridiculous, go for 'lucky 7' instead.

Depending on your mood, there are various colours for roses. Let's classify them in ascending order.

  • Thorn-less Rose : 'Love at first sight'. Ideal for recent relationships
  • White (Bridal) : 'Happy love'. Quite Insipid.
  • Red (Single) : 'I Love You'. Much better. My choice.
  • Red (Dark) : 'Unconscious beauty'. Definitely mysterious
  • Coral or Orange : 'Desire'. Bad colours, but great meaning.

Which one will you choose ?

Fifth commandment: thou shalt find THE gift

Valentine's Day is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year. Therefore, I suggest you not risk all with too original a present. Unless you're very sure of yourself (and in my experience, this is never a wise thing to be where women are concerned) do not stray too far from the conventional path. Content yourself with the traditional triptych : jewellery – beauty products - underwear. For the cheekiest of you (ie : all of us truly) : underwear is always a great idea. Taking an economic approach to the situation, I would say that the Return on Investment is positively splendid. But you need to respect a few basics – let's name it ' the method'. First of all, you must enquire about the lingerie she wears. Which style : extravagant, sexy, or sober ? I am sure you have already examined it with a lot of care and interest. But there is an even more crucial point: you need to check her size. It will save you some embarrassing moments. Because if the fine lingerie you have bought is too small, she will unavoidably feel frustrated and say something like 'oh, I put on weight'. And it will inevitably come down on your head. On the other side of the spectrum, if it is too large, be prepared to receive this type of scud: 'do you think I am fat?'. So you have to aim straight. Another good reason to anticipate: by knowing her size, you will avoid looking at the saleswoman in the lingerie shop as she was a comparison tool, and uttering the ridiculous sentence : 'she is practically like you...'.

From 'Pretty Woman'

Sixth commandment: if I forget, thou shalt find an excuse

With all our I Pads, social networks, and other smartphones, there are plenty of ways to be aware that Valentine's Day is on 14 February. I suggest the most scatter-brained of you to set a minimum of 35 alarms on your iPhone, 272 alert messages on Facebook, and make daily visits to our website If you do that, there is no doubt you will be ready when comes D-Day. In other words, you have no excuse.  That said. But as you know, to err is human. This is why I thought it worth exploring the possibility that you might just forget Valentine's Day. If you realize your mistake on the fourteenth, then it is not too late. Whether your mind has been captivated by the thrilling football matches the days before, or by tough issues at work, your omission is unforgivable but not irreparable. My first piece of advice requires you to keep your calm, have a sense of self-confidence and a good ability in lying. Above all, you must not - I repeat NOT- admit to your girlfriend that you forgot Valentine's Day. Any confession of guilt is a fatal error. Of course she will point out that you have missed the day. In this case, I think a little bad faith is necessary : keep your calm, wear your most charming smile and proudly declare : 'I have prepared something absolutely splendid for tomorrow'. In other words, you need to convince her that 'everything is in control'. Then, move heaven and earth in order to plan the perfect night on 15th. Don't fail. Your life depends on it. When you have succeeded, phone Jack Bauer to provide him with this brilliant plot for the next season of 24.

Now you have everything you could need to survive the 14th February. I was about to conclude by pretending to be scandalized by the fact that only men have to give a gift to their girlfriend on Valentine's Day. Actually this is quite surprising. But then I thought about the fact that this is really only one stressful day for man. Looking at the bigger picture: if we pass this test, we're home free for the rest of the year! So Happy Valentine's bon courage!


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