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Actually, Lots of Gen Z Would Rather Spend Valentine’s Day with Their Friends

Gen Z are thinking about their friends and family when celebrating this Valentine’s Day… 


  • Gen Z are significantly more likely to say they’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day with their friends and family than Millennials
  • Still, both gens agree that it’s a day to show love and appreciation for more than just their romantic relationships
  • But Millennials are still more likely to be focusing on their significant other or spouse, and planning dates to celebrate

It’s that time of year! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner—though heart shaped merchandise has been on shelves for weeks. YPulse’s Valentine’s Day data shows that 61% of Gen Z and Millennials say they’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year, and we also gather data on their opinions about the holiday and what kinds of gifts they’re giving. But while the majority of both gens say they plan to celebrate, when it comes to who they’ll be celebrating with (and who they’re gifting to) Gen Z and Millennials give slightly different answers: 

Bar chart showing who Gen Z and Millennials say they'll be celebrating Valentine's Day with.

More Gen Z are spending Valentine’s Day with their friends  

Gen Z are most likely to say they’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day with their family this year, followed by a significant other or spouse, and friends. For the younger gen, this holiday is often still about the non-romantic love in their life. Even though friends are not their top answer, they are significantly more likely to say they’ll be spending V-day with friends (28%) than Millennials (15%)—who are also much less likely to say they’ll be spending it with family.  

While some might chalk this up to life stage and age—and that’s certainly a contributor—it’s also a sign of a different approach to the holiday that is far less romance-focused. Our data shows Gen Z is also more likely to agree with the statement “I’d rather spend Valentine’s Day with friends than someone I’m dating,” at 50% saying so, compared to 43% of Millennials. So, it’s not just that they aren’t in those long-term relationships at the same rate as Millennials, but that many (half, in fact) would actually prefer to spend the holiday with friends instead.  

And given that they’re more likely to be celebrating Valentine’s Day with non-romantic partners, Gen Z is also more likely to say they’re buying gifts for their friends. While the gens are about equally likely to say they’re buying for a crush / spouse and family / pets, 40% of Gen Z say they’re buying gifts for friends versus 20% of Millennials. (Though, Gen Z are again less likely to say they’ll be giving a gift at all, at 46% compared to 59% of Millennials—perhaps indicating that just spending time together is enough for the younger gen in their non-romantic celebrations!)  

Valentine’s Day might need a rebrand for Gen Z 

Gen Z are overall less likely to say they’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day in the first place—at 54% saying so versus 64% of Millennials. And perhaps because marketing for the holiday is still primarily romantic; our What’s the Situationship? trend data shows 63% of Gen Z agree “brands don’t understand how people in my generation view love.” Our data clearly shows that for young people, their non-romantic committed relationships are just as important as romantic, if not more: 58% of Gen Z agree “Friendships are more important than romantic relationships.”  

One way brands can easily lean into a friendship-based Valentine’s Day campaign is by embracing the already existing “Galentine’s Day.” Much like the originator of the holiday, Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation, Gen Z females are taking this time to celebrate their gal-pals. Of those who say they’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, 18% of Gen Z females say they’re having a Galentine’s celebration with their friends (and 12% say they’re having an anti-Valentine’s Day celebration, for the edgy teens). Others are going the “Palentine’s Day” route—another rename which expands beyond female friendships to be inclusive of celebrating pals of all genders (and we know Gen Z highly value inclusivity). This platonic side of the holiday taps Gen Z’s prioritization of loving friendships, while still having all the pink, red, and heart-shaped fun.  

For Millennials, Valentine’s is still a couple’s holiday  

More than half of Millennials say they’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day with a significant other or spouse. They’re +17pts more likely to say so than Gen Z, showing that the older gen is still primarily seeing this as a day to celebrate their romantic relationships—though the majority do agree it’s a good opportunity to tell their friends and family they love and appreciate them.  

When it comes to what activities will be part of their Valentine’s Day celebration, Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to say going on an in-person date (+4pts), an at-home date (+10pts), and cooking a special meal (+13pts). Millennials also seem to be focusing on planning economical dates this year—staying at home and making dinner together instead of heading out to a candle lit restaurant that’s perhaps a bit out of budget this year. But 75% of Millennials who are giving Valentine’s Day gifts do say they’ll be giving their significant other, so they’re certainly still planning to make it meaningful.