This story was originally published on February 13, 2018.
Galentine’s Day is objectively better than Valentine’s Day. It’s a day before, and instead of celebrating heteronormative romantic relationships, Galentine’s Day is all about the lady friendships that build us up and taking the time to celebrate our communities of care. Without them the world can be an overwhelming and confusing place.
The best way to celebrate Galentine’s Day is by doing something with the people who mean the most to us—be it brunch, a book club, a road trip, cooking a big dinner, going for a walk—and most importantly, toasting good friendships. Friendship doesn’t always get the credit it’s due, especially around Valentine’s Day, but it’s so wonderful to tell your friends how much they really mean to you. I’ve done this in a number of ways every Galentine’s Day for the past six years—everything from bedazzling matching shirts to making time capsules, to cooking large amounts of food for a small group of people. These are my tried-and-true Galentine’s Day gifts and activities.
1. Dinner party it up
My mother’s dearest hope for any time of the year is to have a dinner table full of people who eat lots of food whether it’s my brothers and me, our friends, neighbors, or strangers. Because Mom will always be my first Galentine, the best gift I can think of is a good dinner. Having friends (and moms) over for a dinner party is a great way to show them you care. Everybody can chip in, and you can make thoughtful food based on what you know your friends like. Maybe it’s a DIY waffle bar, maybe it’s a salad-free meat fest, or maybe it’s a round of smoothies. My favorite cookbook is Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a collection of meals to make for family and friends.
2. Make a vision board
My BFF and I send each other #mondaymotivation every week (and #tuesdaymotivation and #wednesdaymotivation, etc.), and it does the trick. In dark times, our besties light the way. Create a vision board for your friend to hang in their bedroom, cubicle, car, or even their wallet. Some ideas for the board are pictures of their dog, pictures of someone else’s dog, every cute pic you have of them on your phone, a portrait of Michelle Obama or Elle Woods, papers they’ve gotten good grades on (that you’ve saved), screenshots of Hermione, anyone from Leslie Knope’s Wall of Inspirational Women, cut-outs of powerful pant suits, and the all-important reminder of priorities: “We have to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter. But work has to come third.”
3. Get matchy
Gal pals love matching jackets, pajama pants, key fobs, water bottles, coffee mugs, etc. There’s so much to make beyond friendship bracelets, though those are great, too. Keep Galentine’s Day going all year long by sporting your matching swag together and apart.
4. Memorialize your friendship forever
BFF’s are for life—through the bad and the good, near or far, at whatever age. Memorialize your friendship with a time capsule of all your favorite things, like things you might not remember in a few years, letters to each other, and pictures of your matching Halloween costumes. Bonus: Have someone hide the time capsule and produce a series of impossible riddles you must solve to find it in 20 years.
5. Make a Galentine’s Day playlist
Make a throwback playlist with all of “your songs” on it. Throughout the years, you and your Galentine have probably danced, cried, driven, and laughed to countless “bangers.” Document the journey with music, turn on DJ Roomba, and dance like nobody’s watching.
6. Give back
Galentine’s Day is really about recognizing the strength of our communities and celebrating those steady, constant forces that uplift us no matter what. This year, consider giving back to the community at large as a way to celebrate with your galentines. Plenty of local organizations could use some love, and volunteering is a great way to have an immediate impact. You could volunteer for your local Girl Scouts chapter, pack lunches for Meals on Wheels, or register people to vote.
7. Compliment time
Because it is Galentine’s Day, after all, celebrate as its founders intended. Whoever the Anne Perkins is to your Leslie Knope, pay them compliments worthy of their brilliance. They are a sun goddess; a poetic and noble land mermaid; a cunning, pliable, chestnut-haired sunfish! Go a step further and get them a crown.
8. Flowers make everything better
Zinnias are colorful, adaptive flowers that grow well in pretty much anybody’s backyard (and in space). They symbolize friendship, and a gift of Zinnia seeds is a great way to give your friend some enduring light when they need it most.
9. Make a found poem
There’s nothing better than the inspirational texts your bestie sends casually at 11:45 am on a Tuesday. Ever been struck by how they know exactly what to say for every situation and possesses the wisdom of a goddess and the eloquence of your favorite grade-school teacher? Make a found poem of their most salient text-message wisdom.
What is more beautiful than your bestie’s face? Nothing. They are a beautiful, rule-breaking moth, a powerful musk ox, an opalescent tree shark. Short of embroidering their face on a pillow (but do that if you’re so able), there are plenty of ways to put that beautiful, naive, sophisticated newborn baby’s face on stuff. Make them a sticker set of both your faces or an air freshener with your face on it for their car, put your face on a hat for them or theirs on a hat for you, get a banner made for them, or go subtle by stringing together a charm bracelet out of pictures of your faces.
11. Praise be to Lady Knope
Leslie Knope is the queen of Galentine’s Day. She’s also the queen of gift-giving and friendship in general. You can’t do much better than making a comprehensive scrapbook of your friendship’s entire history, starting with that fated first encounter (maybe they demanded you clean up the lot behind their house, sat with you in study hall on the first day of school, or have known you since before you could talk) replete with pictures, 3-D pop-up dioramas, and brunch receipts. If you need a little inspiration, you could take this quiz to see which Leslie Knope scrapbook/binder you are.