This year, before you vy for an 8pm-on-February-14th reservation, take pause: couldn’t you do things a little better at home? Especially considering that in 2018, Valentine’s Day falls on a Wednesday – perhaps the 7th least popular choice for late nights out. Why not take the opportunity to shake up the most (or least, depending on your POV) romantic day of the year, while shaking off some of the more cliche trappings of the holiday in the process. Sorry, conversation hearts.
Instead of: Over-indulging in dinner and drinks, then feeling too full and exhausted for proper alone time.
Plan for: Starting in bed.
For those who already know that their Valentine’s Day date is going to end on a lucky note, why not flip the script and ask your date if they’re up for kicking things off in the bedroom – or really, wherever you two prefer. Take a cue from sex columnist Dan Savage, who offers the same advice for Thanksgiving, your own wedding, and Valentine’s Day: have sex first. (His version is catchier, and includes an expletive.) It takes the pressure off, and sets the rest of the evening up with a hazy afterglow – basically, a filter that rivals Instagram’s best.
Instead of: Champagne
Plan for: A flight
No offense Champagne. You’re good enough to stand on your own. But on its busiest day of the year, why not give it a boost? Line up a selection of drinks so the two of you have a chance to compare different types of bubbles – we went with Prosecco, Rose Champagne, and ruby red Lambrusco. Want extra credit? Plan a pre-Valentine’s date where the two of you hit your local wine shop to pick out the essentials. It builds the perfect amount of anticipation, plus gives you ample time to get things chilled for the big day.
Instead of: A prix fixe reservation that seats you inches away from a couple mid-fight (or make-out).
Plan for: A tapas feast, set out festively at home.
It doesn’t have to mean hours in the kitchen. Do a sweep of your favorite high-end grocer for antipasto essentials and make a handful of key take-out orders. It comes together, with the right presentation, as a smorgasbord of delights. The small plate set-up feels considered and gives you the chance to incorporate your date’s favorite indulgences (aphrodisiacs optional but encouraged) into the mix for a one-of-a-kind tapas meal. Practical bonus: you can get all the edible elements the day before – and also have leftovers after the fact.
Instead of: Teddy bears. Conversation hearts. An oversized floral arrangement
Plan for: Forever pieces.
Commemorating the holiday with a day-of gift isn’t just cliche, it’s wasteful. Do you know how many giant bears end up in landfills come March? Instead, focus on a gift that means something the other 364 days a year. Especially if it directly affects one of their five senses: A bottle of their favorite spirit with the sparkling, elevated glassware to put it into. Perhaps a subtle, sleep-enticing diffuser to place bedside. Or really, anything cozy and sensuous they can literally wrap themselves in – and unwrap, at the right moment.
Instead of: Watching a movie
Plan for: Game night for two
Leave binge-watching for another night and indulge in an activity that’s a little more stimulating. A puzzle or a game of chess leaves room for conversation (and just enough competition) to keep you both feeling sharp. Or if your drink flight has you feeling brave, go for tipsy Twister. The key is to keep it screen-free, because really, wouldn’t you rather keep your eyes on your Valentine?