Valentine’s Day is a holiday for couples – new and old, of all ages. But even though it’s widely criticized as being one of the most commercial of holidays, that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to celebrate with the one you love. In fact, setting a budget for your big date can actually force you to get a little more creative – and spontaneous – which can kick you out of a routine or rut better than dinner reservations at Chez Expensiv. Besides, everyone is going to be doing the first five things you’d ordinarily think of for Valentine’s Day. So if you want to avoid the crowds and kindle some real romance, forget you ever heard the phrase “dinner and a movie,” pack up your kids (if you’ve got ‘em) and send ‘em to your favorite single friend or tolerant relative, and try one of these great V-Day dates.
Breakfast In Bed
One of the all-time classic gestures of affection – prepping a big, beautiful breakfast in bed – is an excellent way to start off your Valentine’s Day right. Whether you’re strictly a just-add-water pancake maker, a gourmet chef, or even if you order in, waking up to the smell of waffles and eggs is relaxing, intimate, and utterly romantic. Especially if your sweetie is usually the one that does the cooking, whipping up a big meal is a nice gesture, plain and simple – even if you burn the toast. If you want to fancy it up a little, get a gourmet pancake mix and special toppings – this Bed ‘n’ Breakfast Basket will make a simple but delicious breakfast (who can resist real maple syrup?), and even has stuff to follow up with a nice, relaxing tea bath. The best part? Once breakfast is served, you can stay in bed all day.
Romantic Picnic For Two
This one hinges on you and your valentine living in a climate warm enough to stay outside on February 14, but if you do, it’s a great chance to step out of the daily grind and just enjoy each other. Pack a Two Person Picnic Backpack or a nice roomy picnic basket with fruit, cheese, crackers, sandwiches, a nice chocolatey dessert and a bottle of wine. Whether you end up in a local park, hiking through some nearby wilderness, or just enjoying mother nature in a nice sunny spot, swapping a big dinner date for a quiet picnic can not only save you a lot of money (to say nothing of what you’d have to slip the maitre’d to get the seats in the first place), it’ll give you and your date a little quality alone time. Try leaving your cellphones at home (or at least in the car) so you have each other’s truly undivided attention.
I’ll be honest – I always thought giving “coupons” was kind of a cop-out gift, something you gave your mom on mother’s day, well-intentioned but likely never to be redeemed. But these Love Coupons are definitely NOT something you’d want to give to your mother, and the idea is a lot less silly if you mean it. Printed in His and Hers versions, each coupon comes with a promise – some Romantic and others, well, a little Steamier. Give your valentine their pick and be ready to redeem it – you might be pleasantly surprised.
For a more outdoorsy type – or especially if you both have a robust sense of adventure – geocaching can be a great way to bond. A modern day treasure hunt, geocaching is the act of hiding and hunting for small “caches,” or boxes and containers hidden by other geocachers filled with small trinkets. When you find one, take a souvenir and leave a little token of your own for the next treasure hunter. All you need is a GPS like this eTrex 2o (a genuine GPS with coordinates, not just road maps), a good pair of hiking boots, and a sense of adventure. Find a cache in your area (geocaching.com is a good place to start looking) and set out with your sweetheart. Depending on the site you pick (and your treasure finding abilities) this is a date that could easily last all day – just you, your valentine, and the thrill of the treasure hunt.
Sledding Trip (Or Other Kid-At-Heart Outdoor Fun)
How often do you and your valentine really get to have fun? Not grownup fun, not a nice night out, but really genuinely get to have a good time, laugh, play, and let your worries go. If you ask me, there’s no better way to recapture and rekindle your youthful romance than to play kid for a day. If you’re in a climate where there’s still snow on the ground come Valentine’s Day, grab a couple Spoon Sleds, a Two Seater, or a nice trash can lid and find your nearest hill. No snow? Try flying a Kite, or just tracking down a local park and swinging on the swings. It might seem silly, but I guarantee, playing like kids is both disarming and exhilarating – it’ll nix the pomp and pretense of being a grown up, and leave you feeling sky high all the way home.
Build Your Own Spa Treatment
Of course, playing like a grown up has it’s own merits, too. This year, if you couldn’t manage (time, finances, babysitters, whatever) to take a trip to a spa together, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo the experience. Nab a couple bottles of champagne, put ‘em on ice, light a few candles, and draw up a nice, steamy hot bath. Buy some romantic pink and red bath stuff – this Pamper Me Pink has bath bombs, bubble bath, soap, lotion, and everything else you might need to treat yourself to a spa-style bath. Then, once you get clean, you can treat each other to your own private couples massage.
Romantic Dinner In
Okay, okay. If you can’t kick the idea of having a nice, romantic Valentine’s Day dinner date, how about this: make one! No experience is no excuse: cooking together can be incredibly romantic – especially if you get messy – and even if you really, genuinely, have no idea what you’re doing, there are still ways to make it happen. This instructional DVD and cookbook from Chef Robert gives you step by step instructions to make three decadent five-course meals, and gives you tips for decorating your dining room (and your bedroom!) to make the night perfect. Worst case? You end up ordering Chinese and have a great story for years. Best case? One heck of a surprise for your valentine.
Private Wine Tasting (In Bed!)
Finally, what better Valentine’s Day date than simply not bothering to get out of bed. You can start with the aforementioned breakfast in bed, or simply meet up for an evening of Satin Sheets, fine wines, dark chocolate, and rich cheeses. Enjoying the finer things in life is never more pleasurable than when you’re sharing it with someone you love – and there’s no setting more intimate than between the sheets. If you’re no Sommelier, opt for a package of complimentary wine, cheese, chocolate, and other palatable snacks. This Tasting And Toasting gift set is a good place to start for a white wine, or this Cheers California set for red – they even have Champagne sets if you’re in a celebrating mood.
No matter what you end up doing to celebrate the holiday, remember – it’s not about what or how much, it’s really all about the who. So whatever your date, make sure to appreciate your valentine!