It’s the most romantic day of the year – until you end up basically sitting in the lap of the couple next to you at a crazy expensive Valentine’s Day dinner, wondering if the gift you got your partner was too much or not enough. We’ve all fallen prey to Valentine’s Day mess-ups, from lingerie mishaps to dining disasters.
This year, to keep things steady and fun, I’ve compiled a few cute activity ideas that you can do with (or for) your partner on this special day. What are the most unique and romantic ways to celebrate? What does your date really want? How can you spice up the day without stressing out? I have you covered.
1. Dress the part
The easiest way to spread Valentine’s cheer is to go full elementary school and wear pink and red. Meet your partner for a day date in skinny jeans and a pink top, or sport a red midi-dress for your night together.
2. Go ice skating
This HC writer’s number one recommendation for a perfect Valentine’s date is ice skating. If romantic comedies have taught me anything, it’s that skating rinks breed romance. So go have yourself a Serendipity moment and spend the day ice skating with your date. Just don’t forget the cocoa!
3. Buy them tickets to a game
If you want all of their friends to be saying, “You seriously have the best girlfriend ever,” tickets to your date’s favorite sporting event are the way to go. Not only will you make their night and show that you’re into their interests, but you’ll also get to share something special together, and what’s better than that? StubHub is a great place to start looking for discounted tickets.
4. Do dinner in bed
Going out for Valentine’s Day dinner is a tradition that needs to go. The service is bound to be terrible, the menu limited and the prices steep. Instead, try ordering in from a favorite restaurant and eating the meal in bed. Spend the night relaxing over good food and cozy company, instead of cramped with strangers.
5. Have an indoor picnic
Harvard student Olivia Ford suggests taking the dinner-in-bed idea even further with an indoor picnic. To decorate your space, string white fairy lights around the room, buy some picnic-y snacks, pop the champagne and set up a blanket and pillows for you and your date to sit on. Oh, and don’t forget to ask your roommates for some alone time.
6. Cook them a meal
Strawberry bellinis, chicken parmesan, spaghetti and chocolate mousse—nothing will make your date swoon more quickly than a delicious Valentine’s meal. If you’re feeling ambitious and extra sweet, cooking dinner for your SO is the way to go. If you’re an all-star in the kitchen, check out Food Network’s Valentine’s Day food and dessert recipes. Also, if your date is up for it, cook dinner together—it will be surprisingly sexy to see them move around the kitchen.
7. Give them a classic card
Whether you’ve been dating for a while and you want to tell them how you feel, or if you haven’t been dating long at all but want to show you care, a card goes a long way. Get out the construction paper, doilies and stamps, and get artsy. For amazing card ideas, check out Martha Stewart’s card projects. When it comes to writing, a cute poem or heartfelt message is always a hit.
8. Set a budget and make it fun
Let’s face it: Valentine’s Day can get pricey. Instead of stressing about buying an expensive gift, set a budget with your partner and get creative. For $10, you could buy a cheesy, V-Day themed stuffed animal or bake cupcakes.
9. Take your date down memory lane
Even though Valentine’s Day is about celebrating the moment, there’s no better day to reflect on what makes you so happy with your partner in the first place. A great way to celebrate your relationship is to make a scrapbook—look through old pictures, find cute stickers and paper and then channel your inner Warhol. If making a full scrapbook is too time-consuming, make a collage card or mini scrapbook instead.
10. Make a coupon book
It’s true, coupon books are hardly a new concept, but what person doesn’t want this Valentine’s gift to last all year? Make them a coupon book for things like fresh-baked cupcakes, a movie night or a massage—and feel free to spice it up.
11. Be appreciative
We can all get a little carried away with a Valentine’s Day fantasy. But even if you spent the past three weeks dreaming of sailing on a yacht with your partner or opening a Tiffany’s box, be appreciative if they give you a teddy bear. I’m not talking being understanding if they forget your plans altogether, but V-Day can be a little stressful for everyone, so make sure to acknowledge the effort your date makes.
You’ll have more fun, and they’ll be thankful to have such an appreciative girlfriend.