Sunday, February 12, 2012

No Reservations? 12 Cheap and Easy Ways To Celebrate Valentine's Day

This is what young love looks like along the Seine in Paris

“Aaaack!  It’s Valentine’s Day.  Why didn’t somebody tell me?  You know I live under a cone of silence and didn’t hear a thing about this.  Is it too late to order those giant chocolate-covered strawberries from that expensive chocolate store?  Where can I get a dinner reservation now?  I can’t spend my lunch hour standing in line for a dozen long-stemmed roses because I have an appointment to get my car detailed.  Valentine’s Day again?  Give me a break.”

Is any of this you?

Have no fear.  You might think that there’s no time to plan something for that special someone.  Or your lottery ticket hasn’t paid out yet.  Or you might be like me – married for over 25 years and worn out over the V-Day hype and hoopla.  If you like the idea of dedicating a single day to your sweetheart but not all the work or money it can involve, here’s a sweet bouquet of a dozen ways to celebrate the one you love.  They all cost less than those long-stemmed roses or fancy meal.  And since we are trés environmentally conscious here, feel free to recycle them on birthdays and anniversaries.

12.  Make a meal out of food that is red or heart-shaped.  Try your hand at red velvet cake – or buy one.  Make a pot of chili and serve it with a spinach salad topped with red pepper slices, red onions, strawberries, and raspberry vinaigrette.  Add some feta cheese for contrast.

11.  Make progress – together – on your household chore list.  Nothing generates good feelings in a relationship like working together to achieve a goal.  When finished, toast your achievement with a bit of champagne or red wine.  An alternative might be to take a project on your partner’s to-do list (tax forms, cleaning file cabinets, etc.) and complete the task yourself.  Consider it a new kind of foreplay.

10.  Buy red balloons and before you blow them up, stick love notes inside or notes detailing a memory.  A dozen sounds about right.

9.  Visit the Dollar Store and buy a decorative basket that you fill with anything your sweetie might like – craft supplies, beauty supplies, snack food, automotive doodads, batteries for every electronic device he or she owns.

8.  Give a small amount of artisan chocolate.  In this case, quality can trump quantity.  On the flip side, head to a candy store where you can fill a decorative cellophane bag with every possible gummy variety that is suitable for movie viewing.  Then go to a movie together.

7.  Make a field trip together to that distant shop that sells great cheese or beef jerky or whatever indulgence suits your fancy.  Top it off with a great hamburger at a local grill.

6.  Play a board game like Go or Scrabble or put together a puzzle, perhaps in front of a fire with a bottle of wine and ingredients for s’mores.

5.  Eat at a great Mexican or pizza place.  No reservations required.  Let’s face it, white tablecloth restaurants can be highly overrated.  Valentine’s Day is not about the meal.  It’s about the company and the conversation.

4.  Cook together.  Make a menu, divide the chores, set the table nicely, clean up together.  The easier the meal the better.  Or you could even experiment and try your hands at a chocolate soufflé (they’re really not that hard).  For V-day it’s really about spending time together, not trying to recreate a Kay Jeweler commercial.

3.  Put a picture of the two of you in a very nice frame and display it prominently.

2.  Get up and move.  Bike, hike, ice skate, play basketball.  Or even go bowling.  Finish the evening someplace with great hot chocolate or fabulous ice cream.

1.  Turn off all electronics from the moment you get home until the next morning.  Talk with each other, or sit and read in the same room.  The list of things you could do is endless, but whatever you choose, disconnecting from all of your cyber-friends to give undivided attention to the flesh-and-blood loved one in front of you can be the best way of all to say “I love you.”

In other words, don’t sweat the day.  It should be enough just to shut out the busy-ness of life long enough to reconnect and show you care.

Do you enjoy making a big deal out of V-day, or do you and your sweetie reduce it to a greeting card at most?  What’s your best or worst Valentine’s Day story from your past? What other activities or gifts can you add to the list?  Share it in the comments box so we can stash it away for next year. - Just a reminder that your Valentine's Day plans for me will be broadcast in real-time on at least three social media platforms


Carrie Daws said...

What a great list!! Many of these ideas are "fresh" and will hopefully get some brain cells moving in those who prefer to wait to the last moment to plan. :~)

Rabia said...

Valentine's Day will be like another day at our house. In fact, I forgot the date and scheduled a girl's evening out with a good friend on that day. Oh well. My husband is an attentive and loving spouse all year long. We can celebrate our relationship at other times and in other ways that mean more to us personally.

Julie Farrar said...

I'm with you, Rabia. We aren't slaves to the day. It's fun to do something a little different, like make the time to go out to eat in the middle of the week, but it's not the only day in the year to celebrate a relationship.

Scoop (Leslie Scoopmire) said...

I particularly like 8, 5, and 3. I got Bill some fancy dark chocolate made here in Missouri. And then the overpriced Godiva stuff. And then I immediately gave it to him since he constantly checks the VISA account so that he can't be surprised, and I HATE that!

Alina Sayre said...

How fun! These are sweet and low-pressure ways to enjoy being together :) Thanks, Julie!

Anonymous said...

Julie, what a great list! I would add, take an evening walk with your loved one holding hands! :)

brenda said...

A wonderful list of options. I like cooking on Valentine's day, even if it's grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup. I never really enjoyed going out and sharing the moment with dozens of other couples, hard to be intimate, then again with two kids...

Julie Farrar said...

Ah, tomato soup. Another red food for Valentine's Day. Yeah, we really got out of the swing of things as our kids were growing up. Now we're just going to get Mexican tonight whenever my hubby can get away from work. It works for me.

Scrollwork said...

You must've been a fly on the wall of our home on Valentine's, Julie! I made the hubs a heart-shaped cake (from pumpkin bread mix, actually, because that's what was in the cupboard). He came home with a red balloon and half a dozen huge bars of dark chocolate from the Ghirardelli Square factory about an hour north of home—he'd made a special trip after work, and I forgave him for making me worry that he might've been in a wreck. Then we went to a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican taqueria where I knew there wouldn't be a crowd nor reservations required. Such is the joy of a 25-yr-marriage: no expectations, only delightful spontaneity. I know you know what I'm talking about!

Julie Farrar said...

Sounds like a perfect celebration.

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