Does Valentine’s Day leave you feeling like a bench warmer during the biggest romance game of the season?

If so, then it’s time to re-claim the holiday for yourself. For those of us facing dormant love lives, booked baby-sitters or cynical spouses, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate.

After all, Valentine’s Day isn’t just for lovers – its for families, singles, widows, children – anyone with a heart. So move over candlelight, roses and chocolates: Here are some fresh Valentine ideas that anyone can embrace.

Enjoy a Cheap Thrill

  • Treat yourself to flowers – acres and acres of them – free at the Dallas Arboretum Feb. 13. The Arboretum will waive its admission from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Bring a picnic, a good book, a friend, or your family. The Arboretum is at 8525 Garland; for information, call 327-8263.
  • Take in a “heart art” exhibit at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther. The “El Corazon” exhibit features multiple artists’ works about the heart. The show’s opening reception is Feb. 12 from 6-8 p.m.; Dennis Gonzalez’s Tejano Jazz group will perform from 7:30-9 p.m. It’s free, and families are welcome. The exhibit runs Feb. 11-March 1. Call 670-8749 for information.

Love Your Neighbor

  • Visit an elderly neighbor. Parents might bring along the kids – children and seniors have great chemistry.
  • If you’re not much for talking, plant some pansies in a pot and leave them with a card on your neighbor’s front porch.
  • Send a bubble bath sampler to a new mother, or bring a hot meal for her family to enjoy.

Indulge a Little

  • Go dutch with your friends for a special dinner out.
  • Saunter through a used book store and buy some poetry, quotation books, or novels. Wrap some up and give them to friends. At resale prices, you can afford to be generous. Paperback Plus, 1922 Greenville, and Half Price Books, 5915 Northwest Highway, are great neighborhood sources.

Have a Family Affair

  • Videotape interviews with your children. Ask them what they love about each member of the family. The tapes will be a gift for years to come.
  • Make Valentine cards with your kids using paper doilies, construction paper, glitter glue or sequins.
  • Top off a Valentine dinner at home with a sumptuous dessert that you can make or purchase. Take-out orders are accepted at Cafe Brazil, 2221 Abrams, 826-9522, and Massimo da Milano, 6333 E. Mockingbird, 826-9456.
  • Surprise your kids. Fill a room with red balloons. Pack a special lunch with heart shaped sandwiches and a Valentine card.
  • Call your mother.

The Best of the Rest

Still hungry for ideas? Take a tip from these neighborhood residents:

  • Lynn Bruce sends Valentines to her single-parent friends. She and her two preschoolers make a surprise Valentine cassette tape for Dad’s car. They record his favorite tunes from CDs and include loving messages from the kids.
  • Rex and Pam Aymond start the day with a Valentine breakfast for their kids. They cut heart shapes out of pancakes using a cookie cutter and save the scraps to feed the ducks at White Rock Lake.
  • Sue Waselewski sends a wacky photograph of herself to her young nephews. For last year’s photo, she donned a frilly pink dress, high heels and a big hat, then perched herself on a Harley Davidson with a heart-shaped box of chocolates tucked under her arm.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.