Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. What’s better than chocolate, flowers and love notes? While all of those things are total bliss to me, I also like the idea of mixing it up and putting a new spin on the holiday. Here are a few of my favorite outside-the-(chocolate)-box ideas to help you avoid the routine dinner-and-a-movie date night:
Themed Meal and Tablescape
Cook a meal together or surprise your love with a special home-cooked meal and corresponding tablescape. I love the idea of creating a themed meal that goes beyond the traditional red, white and pink color palette. Try choosing a locale that is special to both of you (it could be the first place you traveled together, somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit together or you could let the dinner serve as clues to a surprise trip you’ve planned). My husband and I are both Francophiles — we’ve done road trips through Provence and Haute Normandie, flea-marketed our way through the Champagne region and visited Paris so many times I’ve lost count. So I decided to center our Valentine’s dinner around a country we truly love. I used a vintage map of France in place of a tablecloth and placed a framed photo of us (taken at the Louvre) on the table.
I also used some of our favorite French wine corks inside a vintage red-and-white French ashtray to serve as decor. Some of the corks had hearts on them which definitely helped bring home the Valentine’s theme. I also placed a few locks and keys on the table to bring back memories of attaching our own love lock to the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris.
To keep within the color palette, I poured some rosé wine into crystal wine glasses and topped them off with cranberries. As for the meal, make sure you plan it out in advance and have all the ingredients on hand. It could be fun to include some heart-shaped or x-and-o-shaped foods on the menu.
Even though these ideas are specific to France, you can easily alter them to your preferred location. Just think about your favorite vacation and some of the special things you did there. Did you pick up any souvenirs? Maybe some shells from the beach or special bowls or glasses? Get out those souvenirs to help re-awaken those treasured memories. To take it a little overboard (but in an amazing way!), you could stash a pair of airline tickets to your favorite destination under your love’s plate and tell him to look after you’ve finished dessert! Très romantic! While jetsetting is swoon-worthy, you could do something just as romantic on a smaller scale — think about a staycation or a weekend country escape to a charming B&B. You could book the reservation and tuck that under your love’s plate, too!
Do something active together. Valentine’s doesn’t just have to be about a romantic evening. Plan a fun activity together during the day; run a 5k, go on a local hike or take a day trip to explore a nearby town. Try something new and celebrate afterward by popping a bottle of bubbly or enjoying dipped strawberries (like the ones shown in the pictures). Yum!
Give from the Heart
Make each other a gift. It’s true: things that come from the heart usually mean more than what you can buy at the store. While not all of us are crafty enough to build or make an entire gift, everyone is capable of making and writing in a card. Buy some scrapbooking or construction paper, whip out your markers and glitter and get to work on a masterpiece for your love. I promise it will be a keepsake. Of all the cards I’ve received in my life, I’ve never once tossed a homemade one. They’re just too special!
You could also take a simpler route with a handwritten love note. Roll the letter up and place it inside a bottle to create the perfect presentation. I played with this message-in-a-bottle theme with the Valentine’s dinner I planned and used the bottles as the central decor atop the plates. I bought both of the antique bottles at a French flea market and the vendor told me they were found during an excavation at the Battle of Verdun site! But, honestly, any bottles you have on hand will convey the same sparkle of romance!
Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope these ideas help you plan an unforgettable holiday.