Be Mine: Valentine's Day Ideas for Friends, Family & Lovers PART 2


"Gosh, I love how easy it is to plan for Valentine's Day."
- No One Ever

With all of the work, bills and general life stuff that require attention on a daily basis, it can be difficult to find the time to put toward planning a special Valentine's Day.  Whether you're celebrating love with your sweetheart, your best friends or your awesome mom, I've got you covered with ideas for breaking the flowers-and-dinner-out rut (not that there's anything wrong with that!).  

Part 2: Couples

**A note to the guys: Generally, (whether fair or not) the guy is expected to make the plans, so a quick word of advice: Girls (at least the ones worth dating) aren’t looking for money spent.  They’re looking for thought and time invested.  Even if the thought is - “Man, we’ve gone out to dinner often, but we’ve never had pizza at a roller skating rink,” - it counts.  That’s not to say that reservations at a restaurant or a dozen roses are a bad idea –but just make sure you find a way to let the girl know you put some effort in. 

 **A note to the girls: You want equal opportunity? Then you need to take equal responsibility.  Sure, we all secretly want some incredibly planned romantic gesture out of the movies, but let’s face it – movies are scripted and planned out by TEAMS of people.  Give your guy a break.  Try switching it up and making half of the nights plans.  Or give your guy some ideas about things you do (Or Don’t) want to do (“Honey, I’d really like to get out of the house for an evening”, etc.).  And at minimum: try to look at intent.  Even if it was a complete disaster, chances are he wasn’t looking to make it that way.

Get Physical.  
Most couples have a tendency to lose their Get-Up-And-Go-Do-Something after a while.  Bring back the laughter with some endorphin-releasing activities.  Plus, showing one another your inner-child is tremendously endearing.

To Try:
  • Bowling Nothing says Sexy like Lysol-scented rental shoes.  But French fries, friendly competition and some highly goofy victory dances are ingredients for an evening of laughter.  One person better than the other?  Even the playing field (or, lane, as it were) by making a “Bowl with the wrong hand” rule.  Or ask for a bumper lane, and play a game where you’re both required to hit the bumpers at least twice every time you roll the ball.
  • Ice Skating Remember when you were 10 and unashamed to do the hokey pokey in public?  Glory days, I tell you.  At least now you’ll have someone to slow skate with.  (And I’d put money on the fact that there’s still that one old guy who comes by himself and is just a little too proud of his backward skating skills). 
  • Skiing or Snow Tubing Granted, it’s not cheap.  But if you do have a little money to spend, it’s a great way to get your heart racing.  Post-hill you and your snow-bunny can laugh over the days adventures while sipping hot chocolate to warm up.  
  • Indoor Swimming Pool Cold weather, be damned! Find an indoor pool (preferably one that also has a hot tub) and show some skin!  Goofy dives off of the board, handstands in the shallow end, and “check out my underwater flip!” will have you giggling in no time.  Plus, nothing beats that exhausted and clean feeling you get afterward. 

Learn Something:
Conversation can get stale when it lacks new subjects.  Mix it up with some activities that get your brain moving.
To Try:
  • Chocolate, Cheese or Wine Tasting Decadent and different, tastings give you a great reason to dress up a little and try new things.  A quick web search will help you locate local shops offering events. 
  • Dance Lesson News flash, guys: most of us girls aren’t swan-lake material either.  Nor are the other couples in the class.  But if you let your girl feel like a princess for an hour and I promise you, she’ll be reminded of why you’re her prince.  (Hate the idea of ballroom or tango? Try Swing dancing: it’s possibly the easiest to master and has real “WOW” power when you pull out some fab tricks at weddings).
  • Planetarium Star gazing doesn’t need to be relegated to the summer months.  Typically free (or very cheap) planetariums offer a relaxed, out-of-the-box experience that allow us to forget all of our silly cares for a brief moment.  Plan ahead, and print out some constellations at home.  Then spend time trying to locate them together. 

Ticket to Ride (and money to burn)
Romance is not about money, but it is about doing things that are unexpected (and, of course, money can be helpful in that case).  Try one of these Sweep-Her-Off-Her-Feet ideas and score some major points.
  •  Hot Air Balloon Ride What could be more romantic than floating quietly above the countryside with the person you love and a bottle of wine?  Just make sure to bundle up - the higher you go, the chillier it gets!
  • Carriage ride - It's traditional, sure, but how many of us have actually done it?  Cozy up in a blanket and take in the streets in style.  Stop afterward at a cafe for a date high on charm.
  • Plane or Helicopter Tour Most cities have helicopter or small plane tours.  Schedule an evening flight and enjoy the stars above and below.  (NOTE: make sure your significant other doesn't mind flying ahead of time. A romantic air excursion can be some people’s idea of a nightmare.
  • Train Ride Trains are undeniably romantic, and there are incredible options for train rides including brunch, dinner, murder mystery and tour options.  Or trade a hotel stay for an overnight ride in a sleeper car.
Variations on a Theme:
There’s nothing wrong with the Tried and True.  Just try to keep it fresh. 

Dinner at a Restaurant: 
  •  Pick somewhere you haven’t tried before (or get crazy and try a TYPE of food you haven’t tried before.  Shawarma, anyone?), and make reservations.  And make sure to dress up - it heightens the excitement for any activity.
  •  Choose a section of town with several eateries, and go restaurant hopping.  Choose a spot to go for drinks, then head to another restaurant for dinner (make sure you have a reservation for your meal), and try one more stop for dessert. 
Catching a Show: 
  • Up your usual movie going experience by finding an elite theater in your area.  Many, now, have reserved seating, some serve dinner and drinks, and some even have motion controlled seating (called D-Box) which is synchronized with the movie to add movement to your film. Try Googling unique movie houses in your area.  And if you do plan on doing dinner and a movie, try switching it up and doing the movie first. It gives you a new subject to chat about over the meal.
  • Trade the movies for the theater and look for musicals, plays or dinner theater in your area.  Colleges often have very good productions at a lower price.  And if, at the mention of “theater,” you think of cheesy, fluffy, cringe-inducing songs, let me assure you that those types are only a small portion of the spectrum.  Anything written in the last twenty years is more likely to be smart and sassy or a complete fantastic spectacle.  Just do a little web-checking before you go!
Get a Room: 
  • Spending the night somewhere different can be a very lovely gesture.  Find a hotel with a bar or restaurant downstairs and an indoor pool for a mini vacation with just the two of you.  
  • Trade a hotel for a bed and breakfast.  B&Bs are high on charm and most will rank high on the romance scale.  Look for extra features like in-room fireplaces or Jacuzzi tubs.  Spend the day before and after checking out the area

It’s the Little Things…

Want your night to be special? Even if you select a typical “date” activity, find a way to give it new life, or make it specific to your relationship.  

  • Even if you’ve been together a long time and there isn't a question of who will be your valentine, call your honey a few days ahead of time to formally ask them on a date. 
  • Create a playlist of songs that remind you of your date and play it in the car on the way to your dinner.
  • If you know what time you'll be in the car and listening to the radio, secretly call a local station and ask for a dedication to be made to your partner.  Cheesy? You bet.  But a little bit of cheese can be a very good thing.  
  • FLIRT.  It is an art that can get lost or forgotten after too much time.  Wink at your partner from across the room. Touch the small of your girlfriend's back now and then.  Make innuendo's toward your feelings for them, but keep it understated.  Subtlety is the key to being a good flirt!
  • Disconnect to Reconnect.  When's the last time you had dinner together without checking your phone? Trust me, it matters.  Turn your phones off (unless, of course, you have kids and need to be on call), and leave social media and work for tomorrow.
Stay Tuned for "Can't Buy Me Love" - with tips and ideas for celebration ideas on a shoestring budget.

Other Valentine's Day Reading 
Redefining Valentine's Day
Color Me Mine

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