Valentine’s Day – 5 Ways to celebrate post-COVID

Valentine’s Day – 5 Ways to celebrate post-COVID

How will we celebrate a post-COVID Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day is the day for lovers, traditionally accompanied by oodles of chocolates, smoochy cards, long-stemmed roses, and sometimes, carefully crafted proposals! But, is the way we normally celebrate this special day changing in post-COVID?

Having experienced the past few years of COVID lockdowns, restrictions and on-going viral spread; a re-focus on the importance of ‘home’, friends and family; a resurgence of awareness around our carbon footprint; and rediscovering our own backyard (literally), what will be different about Valentine’s Day post-COVID?

Here are my Top 5 post-COVID Valentine’s Day Predictions…

Valentine's Day hearts coming out of envelope

1. We will swap red roses for sustainable, locally-grown blooms

Did you know that 50 per cent of fresh flowers we purchase in Australia, particularly roses around Valentine’s Day, are imported? Due to the fact that they have travelled long distances from places like Ecuador, Eastern Africa, Asia and Europe, they need to be treated twice with chemicals, many of which are harmful to humans, to ensure they don’t bring unwanted pests into Australia.

With the supply chain issues the world is currently experiencing, it also means these imported flowers will cost a lot more than previously.

Add to this the use of synthetic, non-biodegradable single use plastics in the form of florist foam and packaging, the greenhouse gases emitted during transport, and the fact that many imported flowers are grown in high-energy-using greenhouses, we should question our propensity to buy imported bouquets.

There are approximately 900 flower farms in Australia, supplying almost 2000 retailers, creating a viable local industry, employment opportunities, regional economic prosperity and skill development, while supporting the biodiversity of our nation.

And, frankly, locally-grown flowers, especially natives, are gorgeous!

Unfortunately, the industry isn’t well regulated, so it can be difficult to identify locally-grown flowers and florists who are committed to sustainable practices.

So, the best advice is to ask your florist about where they source their flowers and how they ensure their practices are sustainable.

Australian native flowers in a Valentine's Day bouquet

2. Our chocolates will be Australian-made post-COVID

Australian-made chocolates have experienced a renaissance in recent years, with many local brands now taking precedence over our traditional selections of European or American varieties. And those of us who are chocolate connoisseurs know that ‘Australian-made’ really is the best! Below are some of my favourites:

Kokopod – Who would have thought you could add chocolate to your cheese platter? Well, that’s what Yandina (Queensland)-based Kokopod founder Brigid Woolnough suggests! With flavours like Fig, Nib & Coconut; Lavender & Honeycomb; Lemon Myrtle & Macadamia; Rosemary & Sea Salt; Orange & Fennel; and Plum, Pear & Pepperberry….you start to get the idea! There are other options of course, with everything ranging from white to dark chocolate and vegan varieties. I am guilty of spending $100 on one order just to try every flavour on offer. After doing an exchange in Germany with a host father who worked for a commercial chocolate company, Brigid’s fascination with chocolate was piqued. It wasn’t until she was on maternity leave from her role as a primary school teacher that she cemented her passion by undertaking a chocolate course in Melbourne and spending the next four years studying and setting up the Kokopod business. Hallelujah!

Just William Chocolates – A visit to trendy William Street in Paddington, Sydney, isn’t complete without a stop at Just William Chocolates. With four generations of family chocolate-making behind her, founder Suzanne Francis knows a thing or two about exquisite, hand-made chocolates. The packaging is also divine and you will be hard-pressed to find a more delightful gift for your Valentine, or for any other occasion. I defy you not to be tempted!

Haigh’s Chocolates – Founded in Adelaide by Alfred E Haigh in 1915, Haigh’s is the oldest family-owned chocolate-maker in Australia. Today, the business is run by fourth-generation Alister and Simon Haigh, and boasts retail outlets in Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. While the chocolates can be purchased online, the in-store experience is still one not to be missed. An absolute treat at any time of year!

Bahen & Co – Operated from a family farm in the Margaret River, Western Australia, vignerons Jacqui and Josh Bahen bring their slow wine-making ethos to the chocolate production process. With everything from chocolate bars to coated Persian Wild Figs; Organic Salted Liquorice; Vanilla & Almond Nougat; and drinking chocolate, baking chocolate and chocolate nibs, all in bright, artistic packaging, Bahen & Co is blazing a trail for the chocolate experience in Australia. A true symbiosis of science and delectable taste that looks amazing too!

Metiisto Artisan Chocolate – Originally from Sweden, Metiisto founders Trevor and Magdalena decided to relocate to Trevor’s home country of Australia and opened Metiisto Artisan Chocolate in Toowoomba in 2018. With a mission of ensuring quality from ‘bean to bar’, the award-winning chocolate now sources its cocoa from nearby Solomon Islands, supporting the local industry and reducing their carbon miles. This chocolate will delight the tastebuds of any hard-core chocolate afficionado – you have been warned!Box of Valentine's Day chocolates

Image: Just William Chocolates

3. We will celebrate ‘local’ in a post-COVID world

Whether you are considering the humble, romantic picnic; the home-cooked show-stopper; or the more elaborate restaurant experience, whatever you choose should be focused on boosting the depleted coffers of our COVID-affected hospitality, tourism and entertainment industries. Buying from local food and wine producers; spending money at local establishments; attending an entertainment venue; holidaying at a local tourist destination; or supporting a home-grown business will be the ‘norm’ in 2022.

If you haven’t got yourself organised for ‘V’ day, then I recommend you check-out your local ‘must do’, ‘broadsheet’ or ‘concrete playground’ websites for some last-minute ideas!

If all else fails, some takeaway from your local restaurant, a cheese platter, special bottle of wine, picnic rug and nearby park will do the trick!

 

Clinking champagne glasses on beach to celebrate Valentine's Day

4. Our cards will be authentic and heartfelt this Valentine’s Day

Instead of filling the coffers of international card conglomerates, why not buy a locally-made card from your neighbourhood art gallery, artisan market, school or church shop, or, make your own! If you need inspiration, head to your local stationery obsessed retailer, like The Paper Empire, with outlets in Brisbane and Melbourne.

Recycling wrapping paper or ribbon, incorporating foliage and flowers from your backyard or local garden centre, grabbing spices from your kitchen, including a special photo or adding a lock of your hair, combined with a loving message, will create a unique keepsake! Go on – explore your creative inner self and delight your loved one with something totally unexpected!

Valentine's Day love heart card with flower

5. Our post-COVID proposals will be simple and surprising

As we have been limited with travel opportunities, that planned hot-air balloon experience over a vineyard may not have made it into your planning schedule this year! But fear not…a moonlit picnic or sunrise champers will do the trick with just as much impact. If you are devoid of ideas, then check out websites such as Red Balloon to give you the ultimate ‘experience’ options.

Remember…it’s just one day in 365 opportunities to show your love!

If you haven’t quite managed to get yourself organised, don’t stress! Valentine’s Day is just one opportunity in 365 days this year to demonstrate your love to your special ‘other’. Keep the element of surprise alive and pick another ‘unexpected window’ to declare your intentions.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Girl with head on man's shoulder in Valentine's Day loving moment

 

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