Are you stuck in a rut when it comes to romance? This Valentine’s, it’s time to get creative.
“Celebrating Valentine’s Day should be considered a privilege,” says Nancy Fagan, relationship expert and founder of the Relationship Resolution Center in Plano, Texas. “You need to let the holiday serve as a reminder that you are lucky to have someone special to share your life with.”
Ideally, Valentine’s activities should allow you to spend time together in an unexpected way. The goal is to create a bonding experience between the two of you.
Fagan believes, however, that you’re doing your relationship a disservice if you only celebrate each other when the calendar calls for it. “Couples can easily build a strong foundation by putting effort into shared experiences,” Fagan says. “But think beyond an annual holiday. I recommend scheduling monthly experiences designed to keep couples connected. It’s an important way of keeping an intimate bond strong.”
If you’re struggling to think of what to do with your significant other this Feb. 14 (and beyond!), let these 13 ideas for celebrating Valentine’s Day inspire you.
1. Have an indoor picnic
This Valentine’s, take dinner to the floor with an indoor picnic. Spread out a blanket and dig into some gourmet cheese and wine, then follow that with a dinner of homemade pizza or surf and turf. Just a simple change in routine can spice up the evening and make the holiday memorable.
For dessert, serve a “heartbreakingly” delicious Belgian chocolate heart filled with sweets. It’s perfect for sharing — just take turns using the mallet included with this gift to break it into smaller pieces and reveal all the goodies hiding inside.
2. Learn a new skill together
Life can get monotonous, so why not take this Valentine’s as an opportunity to learn a new skill together. You can enroll in classes that teach you everything from salsa dancing to rock climbing to photography.
Try to choose an activity that can extend beyond the holiday. “When learning a new skill, look to see if there are groups nearby that have monthly meetings,” Fagan suggests. “That can help further develop the new skill and keep the connection strong.”
3. Cook a gourmet meal at home
Sure, an evening out can be fun, but on Valentine’s Day? That’s when the restaurants really gauge you. Make V-Day extra memorable this year by bringing the fine dining to your kitchen.
If you’re not entirely confident in your culinary skills and would prefer to keep the cooking to a minimum, consider ordering a pre-made meal. A filet mignon dinner for two or wild Alaskan sockeye salmon and quinoa roasted sweet potato salad will give you a five-star dining experience without any of the hassle of going out or making food yourself.
4. Master an escape room
Do you love solving puzzles together? Amp up the stakes this Valentine’s Day by conquering an escape room.
You get extra points if the escape room is scary.
“Any activity that causes an adrenaline surge will chemically bond people,” Fagan says. “There’s something about frightening experiences that make people feel bonded. It also causes people to touch because of the anxiety.”
When you get home, feed each other some juicy and delicious chocolate-covered strawberries. It’s the perfect way to celebrate your escape from the room (and to keep the romance going).
5. Make a memory jar
Celebrate how far you’ve come as a couple by filling a jar with special memories. These can include tokens from previous dates and milestone moments. “This works well if you’re in the habit of saving receipts, fliers, and all things related to your relationship,” Fagan says.
Plan ahead for next Valentine’s by starting a new jar to enjoy together a year from now. Add items over the next 12 months, attaching a short note to each so you don’t forget its significance. Then, next Feb. 14, review the jar one memento at a time and relive your happy memories from the past year.
You can create a cozy and intimate atmosphere for a home spa day by dimming the lights, playing romantic music, and lighting scented candles.
6. Create a couple’s vision board
For well-established couples, celebrating Valentine’s Day can serve as an opportunity to reflect on where you are and where you want to go. One way to do that is creating a vision board that you can display in a place you will see it often. You can write directly on it, browse old magazines for inspiration, or print out pictures that represent the goals you’re working toward.
“A vision board is like a climbing wall,” Fagan says. “Take time to discuss your goals for yourself and the marriage, and then create a master plan for how each person can achieve their goals and the goals for the marriage. Just like the rock-climbing couple who stands in front of the wall and plans how they will navigate it, you need to do the same for your relationship.”
7. Have a paint-and-sip at home
Turn your living space into a creative haven for Valentine’s by setting up easels, laying out canvases, and grabbing some art supplies. “You can choose a theme or let your mind run wild as you sip your favorite beverage,” Fagan says. Wine, sangria, bloody marys, mocktails — everything is on the table. “You’ll have an opportunity to enjoy an artistic journey together as you create meaningful and collaborative works of art.”
8. Host a private dessert tasting
Wine tastings are overdone. This Valentine’s, consider putting on a dessert tasting from the comfort of your home. Use it as an opportunity to explore things you don’t eat every day, such as tiramisu, apple galette, chocolate-covered cherries, a cheesecake assortment, or even a tray of gourmet dessert bites. “Take the time to enjoy each bite with your partner,” Fagan says. “You can share your impressions as you savor the simple pleasure of enjoying diverse flavors together.
9. Have a themed movie night
Watching a movie in street clothes? So passé. Spice things up for Valentine’s by picking a theme and going with it. So, for example, if you’re planning to watch “The Great Gatsby,” dress in 1920s attire and serve each other sparkling wine from custom glasses. More interested in mob movies? Pop in “Goodfellas,” get decked out in your gaudiest duds, and have an all-you-can-eat pasta night.
10. Enjoy a home spa night together
“Who doesn’t love to be spoiled? You can create a cozy and intimate atmosphere for a home spa day by dimming the lights, playing romantic music, and lighting scented candles,” Fagan says. This creates the perfect opportunity to take sudsy baths and then give each other massages as you indulge in decadent treats like chocolate truffles.
11. Start a book club for two
If you and your partner share a love of reading, Valentine’s Day can be an excuse to gush over a good book. Pick a title at least a month in advance and read it before the holiday. You can discuss the themes and characters over a charcuterie board of favorite treats.
Alternative idea: Choose a movie that will get you thinking, and come ready to discuss it. It’s your choice whether you watch the movie in advance or on Valentine’s. If you watch it together, make sure you have a bucket of popcorn ready.
12. Host a mystery cooking challenge
Bring some drama into your holiday plans with a dinner challenge. Take a trip to the grocery store and each choose one oddball ingredient, and then the other person needs to design a dish around it. (It’s permissible to purchase additional ingredients to make it easier.) Once you return home, make your recipes together. You can end the evening by enjoying the fruits of your creativity as you relax with a glass of wine.
13. Recreate your first date
Do you long to relive the past? Then go back and experience the magic of your first date all over again. “I suggest meticulously recreating the details, from the venue and the menu to the activities and ambiance,” she says. “Take time to share anecdotes and reminisce about all your first impressions of each other, and you might just recapture some of the magic of those early moments.”