When it comes to Valentine’s day it seems that most people opt for either the expensive way or the easy way by taking help from saitove za zapoznanstva. Sometimes the two combine to create the perfect storm of “romantic” cliché. Anyone can overpay for flowers that will last a week at best. The thought of my husband in a panic at the local grocery store two hours before he comes home from work on the big day leaves me with mixed emotions. Most of them falling along the lines of, “how could he forget?” and “do you know what I could have done with the $140 dollars he spent on these roses?” How much effort does it take to grab a velvet-covered box of chocolate? Or pick up that thoughtfully mass-produced diamond bauble that six other women will show up at the gym wearing the day after Valentine’s?
When I look back on the nearly ten years I’ve been with my husband it isn’t these things that stick out for me. Don’t get me wrong I love some good chocolate and flowers are great. I’ll forever cherish my Tiffany bracelet. Yet more for the sentiment and thoughtfulness, he put into choosing it than for the label. He picked their Russian Knot design because I am named after Lara from the Russian love story Doctor Zhivago.
I keep a hatbox full of his early love letters and the notes that they’ve been paired down into since having four children. My husband has a great sense of humor and gives me fun, silly, and ultimately very romantic knickknacks that I value above all the roses, chocolates, stuffed animals, lingerie, and baubles I’ve ever received.
It’s in this spirit that I present you with five wonderfully romantic ideas for this Valentine’s day. I promise you that if your valentine has even the smallest romantic bone in their body they will promise their heart to you and never notice the lack of overpriced clichés.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (or lunch on the lawn):
It does hold true that the way to your love’s heart (be they man or woman) is through their stomach. I’m a talented at-home chef. I consider cooking an art form and an outlet. I cook daily and enjoy doing it. But I tell you when my husband cooks for me (three times in ten years mind you) it is sexy as hell! He doesn’t have to give it the five-star treatment. Just that he did this thing for ME is great. So my first suggestion is a meal. Cook for your love. You can spice it up by getting up early and making a wonderful breakfast in bed. Or, you can pack a nice picnic for two. Because we live in a colder climate I have made a bedroom bistro for just the two of us. I cover a small table or nightstand with beautiful linens, set it with my best dinnerware, light candles throughout the room, and serve up a meal for two. You could even just order your valentine’s favorite take-out meal if cooking is out of the question. It’s all about the effort you went to for them.
*A side note to this suggestion. Many community colleges offer couples cooking class for Valentine’s Day. Some even offer classes leading up to the holiday if you’d like to learn something new to take back to your place and make for your valentine.
The love letters of great men (or women):
I try and do this every time my guy goes away on business or just sometimes out of the blue. I tuck little notes in his bag, wallet, the book he is reading, or the pocket of his jeans before he puts them on. Sometimes I just write “I heart You”. Other times I get a little naughty, pick a great quote, or recall a memory of ours. Step it up for the occasion. Put them everywhere and be really honest and heartfelt (it shows). There is nothing like hearing that he loves the way I look in his t-shirt.
At heart, be we women or men, we are all kids who want to have fun. Who says romance has to be fancy and flowery? Make it a game. Buy your valentine that something special you know they want. Wrap it up and hide it. Then make them little clues to get to where the treasure is hidden. Make it extra romantic by adding things into your clues about how and why you love your partner. Or you could even go the naughty route with a few of the clues too.
Dance like no one is watching:
This is my biggie when it comes to being swept off my feet. Don’t bother with a crowded club. Pass up on the overdone dinner place that has hired a DJ and popped for a portable dance floor in honor of the occasion. Make a playlist of songs that are meaningful to the two of you. Set up a room in your house with a CD or mp3 player, dim the lights, put out some candles, and just ask your valentine to dance. When my husband and I went to Tuscany this summer I put together a playlist just for this purpose. We danced and danced and I’ve never done anything more romantic.
The thing about Valentine’s day is, like so many other things, it’s become a consumer holiday. Remind your valentine that it’s about the love the two of you share not the credit card bill.