If you're even on the fence about buying flowers this late in the game, just forget about roses. Despite the fact there were 233 million of them grown for Valentines Day last year -- which, according to The Society of American Florists, is three-quarters of all flowers bought for the holiday -- they're still sold at a ridiculous premium for a flower that can bloom twice a year and grows rampant during the warmer months. A dozen that will fetch as little as $10 in the summer will easily go for $40 to $50 this time of year. Not only are you a little late for calling in a delivery, but the average $50 cost before Valentines Day jumps to upward of $80 this close to the deadline and puts an unnecessary middle man between you and your local florist.
At this eleventh hour, a delivery person shouldn't even enter the equation. Use Yelp or just about any search engine to find your local florist and have the conversation that just about any couple planning a wedding around this date tends to have: What flowers are in season in February. You'll find that lovely stargazer lilies, daffodils, forget-me-nots and a broad array of tulips are among the flowers in high supply around this time of year for low cost. In fact, last year, a tulip grower in my neighborhood saved the day with $5 bunches that made a large, brilliant bouquet for less than $20.
Finally, if you're looking to extend the evening by heading out to a movie afterward, consider that Valentines Day always inflates the box office take a bit. Last year, moviegoers spent $32 million on Valentines Day alone -- or nearly double what they spent on every other Thursday combined in February. The good news is that those moviegoers typically spend on whatever new and vaguely romantic tripe Hollywood throws at them. The Nicholas Sparks novel adaptation Safe Haven was the top-grossing Valentine's Day film of 2013 and accounted for more than a quarter of the day's take.
This year's lineup of new releases features comedian Kevin Hart filling the Rob Lowe role in a remake of the 1986 film About Last Night, Colin Farrell playing a burglar trying to reincarnate the love of his life in Winter's Tale and a bunch of Gossip Girl alums behaving badly in a remake of the 1981 film Endless Love that gave the world the ham-fisted Lionel Richie tune of the same name. Oh, and a reboot of the RoboCop sci-fi franchise. Our advice: Don't see any of them.
If your significant other is really into film, Oscar nominees including Her, Gravity, Wolf Of Wall Street, Philomena and American Hustle are still in theaters. Their older counterparts -- 12 Years A Slave, Dallas Buyers Club and Captain Phillips -- are still $3 to $4 options on the second-run circuit. If you just haven't been out in a while, The LEGO Movie, The Monuments Men, Ride Along, Frozen and Lone Survivor all still have legs and all have been seen by just enough people to keep the holiday crowds to a minimum.
There are plenty of other do-it-yourself ways out of this, including making presents, cooking dinner and preparing dessert -- even convenience stores and health and beauty stores in some states will hook you up with a decent bottle of wine for the occasion. Unless you're certain both you and the one you love are steadfast in your fundamental opposition to this commercialist holiday that trails only Christmas in retail spending, just realize you still have plenty of time to ensure that it won't be a complete disaster.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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