We are had so much fun over at my fondue gift basket giveaway! Thanks to everyone for entering. In the meantime, it has also been really enlightening. I asked readers to share the most romantic/creative Valentine’s Day they have ever had. While there are some seriously romantic answers–pretty sure I can’t top being whisked off to Paris–and some inspiringly creative ideas (I will share some here), I am surprised at how many of you said something like, “We don’t really celebrate,” “We’re not very creative,” or even “We just make it about the children.”
If you and your spouse are completely content with your method of celebrating (or not celebrating) this holiday, you may feel free to skip this post.
But I am going to make the case FOR celebrating Valentine’s Day together as a couple…whether you have been together for 6 months or 60 years! Valentine’s Day is a day designated to celebrate love, and if you have a love that deserves to be celebrated, I hope you can find a way to honor it!
I’m going to address some of the reasons you’ve given me for not doing anything and give you enough ideas to overcome most any obstacle.
We don’t celebrate
You gave me a number of reasons why. First of all, you are busy! Life is busy, it is easier not to. I totally agree. But the most important things in our lives deserve to be treated like the most important things, not an afterthought. It may take a little work or effort, but there are so many ideas that don’t have to be extravagant or complicated and still let your loved-one know that they are loved.
“We don’t need a holiday to be romantic.” My question is, is that really true? If it is, my hats off to you! I hope everyday is Valentines Day in your house–just like we shouldn’t only be charitable at Christmas, or grateful at Thanksgiving. But it is helpful to have those yearly reminders to renew that spirit of giving and gratitude. I think many of us plan to be romantic everyday, but then life happens (see first paragraph). Sometimes we have to schedule the romance to make sure it actually happens–as unromantic as that may sound. What is wrong with the idea of a yearly reminder to invest in the relationship you have? We have our anniversary in August, so I feel like every 6 months we have a great opportunity to remind ourselves to focus on us and remember how we became “us”. It helps keep us on track. In the meantime, date nights are a great idea every week, and you don’t need a holiday to do something nice for your sweetie. Sometimes you just need to put a little more fuel on the fire to keep it burning.
Here are a few ideas to make celebrating more doable, if you do want to give it a shot:
Be flexible on the date–One of you may have to work or have other commitments on Feb. 14. That doesn’t mean Valentine’s Day is ruined. Just plan a date that works for you and make it your Valentines Day. One year my husband had to work out of town so much that our Valentines was 2 weeks late coming, but it came! He bought me a movie I wanted and some other small but romantic gifts and sent me on a little treasure hunt to find them. My clues were hidden in Shakespeare’s sonnets that we used to read to each other while we were dating. Aw! Sweet, right? Especially with all of the out-of-town time, I needed a little romance.
Avoid the Crowds–It’s true that dining out may be a bit hectic on Valentine’s night, unless you’ve planned carefully ahead and made reservations. (Or celebrate on a different night.) There is so much you can do with out leaving your home that will still feel special. Maybe some favorite take-out if you don’t enjoy hanging out in the kitchen. Or what about a really romantic meal you cook together or eat in an unusual part of the house to make it feel like a restaurant or a picnic (lots of these kinds ideas at the end of the post). Win my giveaway and have romantic fondue at home! Or take a cue from the chocolate-themed gourmet group dinner I helped to host and incorporate chocolate into each of the dishes.
Just because you may be home-bodies, doesn’t mean your night can’t be special.
Own Your Expectations–Some of the best marriage advice I’ve ever heard of is to own your expectations (by author John Lund). In other words, your husband cannot read your mind. You may have dreams of a kiss on a Parisian balcony. He may be happy with pizza and just hoping for a little bedroom time. Don’t be disappointed in him that he hasn’t given you the romantic Valentines date of your dreams, if you haven’t shared those dreams with him (and sometimes we have to get specific, ladies). Maybe you want to take turns planning the date from year to year. That way you can give him some ideas of what is fun and meaningful to you when you are planning, and take some of the pressure off of him to feel like he needs to impress you every year. Likewise, showing him that you are thinking about what he likes and is meaningful to him, will naturally make him want to reciprocate. It’s important to discuss before hand if you have the budget for gifts for each other or more expensive dates, or if you are going to go the homemade (but sweet) route in a particular year. Some day I hope he surprises me with tickets to a Mediterranean cruise, but it’s not such a good idea for the pocketbook this year. I think some of my insanity has rubbed off on my husband (you saw the Shakespearean treasure hunt). He’s learned that those kinds of things mean a lot to me, so he will do them when he can.
We aren’t creative
The beautiful thing about the internet these days is that you don’t have to be creative anymore! There are more ideas out there than even I could possibly pin on Pinterest. Websites like The Dating Divas are dedicated to creative date ideas. I’m going to give you about a hundred more in this post! But remember, not every date has to be so clever that it is Pinterest worthy. This is about you and your significant other showing each other that you still care. A little creativity can go a long way—especially when the funds aren’t there. I’d love to go to a resort every Valentine’s weekend just the two of us (or on a cruise, or to Europe…) but that just isn’t going to happen for us at this stage of life. A thoughtful date or gift can mean a lot more in the long run than a lot of money spent. You probably share the same budget now, so it isn’t as romantic as when you were dating and he was spending his hard earned cash on you. A lot of the reader ideas below are nearly free!
My Valentines Snack basket was purchased entirely at the dollar store, so it didn’t require a huge out pouring of money. A paper treasure hunt that leads him to the bedroom, with you wrapped up in a bow (and maybe nothing else? *blush*), might not cost a thing–and really is probably what he wants most of all for Valentine’s day.
If you are still not feeling inspired, sometimes it helps to team up with some other creative cohorts. I wouldn’t plan a group date every year, unless you also plan some good alone time, but our creative group dates and parties have been so much fun and really take us back to when we were dating and did silly things to impress each other. It’s nice to remember the people we were before we became parents every once in a while. Check out our Amazing Race themed group date! My favorite part was seeing how creative our husbands could be in getting us a gift and flowers when we only gave them a dollar or two in change to work with. They did good!
Last year, we teamed up with another couple to throw a slightly-rowdy and really fun “Game of Love” Valentines party. We played the Newlywed (or not-very-Newlywed) game, and Valentines-themed Minute to Win It games. It was a ton of fun!
You are probably more creative than you think! Draw inspiration from your courtship. Maybe you want to send him on a GPS hunt to visit places with special meaning to the two of you, like I did one anniversary. Or pull out mementos from dates and spend some time reminiscing.
We just make it about the children
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about celebrating with the kids! We make heart-shaped pizzas sometimes, and I help them take ridiculously customized school Valentines to their classmates each year. I’ve thrown a fun pre-school Valentines party, and a Love Bug Ball for my kids. We’ve decorated mailboxes and left love notes for each other, and did a Valentines Advent countdown full of caring-themed acts of service. Valentines Day with kids can be really fun, but at some point the kids should go to bed, or to grandma’s, or to the baby sitter, so there can be some you time!
If you really don’t have the option to send the kids elsewhere, why not get them involved in celebrating your romance, like I did for this anniversary dinner? It is so good for kids to see that your relationship is important to you (and maybe that not the entire world revolves around them).
There were so many great ideas in the comments on the giveaway. If you have a chance, go back and skim through them all (I know, there are a lot). I picked just a few examples that stood out to me as original, simple, inexpensive, creative, etc. Surely, something here will inspire you!
Hubby wins last years valentines- he left a trail of roses all over the house and in the car with sweet messages along the way
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…I bought a bunch of balloons and tied little notes with things I love about him to the end of each ribbon.
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It was Valentine’s Day. After a long flight from a business trip, my dear husband saw himself in the situation where he was heading home without a “Valentine’s” gift for me. While away, he didn’t have the time to find something that he thought I would really, really like…
He knew of this little necklace we had seen together in a jewelry store that just opened for business in our town; and which I liked very much. His plans were to stop by the shop and buy me the necklace, but the store was closed that day! Oops! What he did next is what I found to have been very caring (or romantic). He found the way to contact the owner of the shop. My husband told the man about the necklace and how much I liked it. Luckily for him, this nice gentleman agreed and opened the store. As my husband was paying, he thanked this lovely elderly man for what he had done for us. The gentleman responded by saying “a wife is a fine jewel to be treasured; and taking good a care of that jewel is a must”. “I had such a jewel not long ago; and boy, did she give me joy”. “The man who has the courage to call me to open the store to buy a gift for his wife, shows me that she is worth all that effort”.
To paraphrase the shop keeper: “A marriage is a fine jewel to be treasured; and taking care of that jewel is a must!” Isn’t it “worth all that effort” even if it can be inconvenient? Why not take advantage of Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to make sure your relationship is treasured?