Valentine's Day At Home: A Step-by-Step Guide
Are you wracking your brain in an attempt to find a way to celebrate Valentine's Day that'll impress your significant other? The latest wave of COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into most people's romantic plans, with restaurants seating fewer patrons and travel advisories making it difficult to venture elsewhere.
Who says you can't make the most of your time at home with your partner and make the most of the most romantic holiday of the year?
If you're feeling uninspired or are looking for a gentle nudge in the right direction, let me share some of my own plans for February 14.
So, picture this: Your partner arrives home after a long Monday, no expectations whatsoever of any Valentine's Day plans, and you surprise them with a movie night.
This is a no-fuss option you can enjoy in your pajamas with a nice glass of store-bought wine (I recommend a Shiraz, a popular red wine), some popcorn and maybe a side of nachos and salsa.
I think I'm going to go with "The Notebook," because nothing says sappy love like a Nicholas Sparks movie. But if you're in the mood for something a little saucier, put on one of the "50 Shades" movies or "Dirty Dancing."
If you're more of an action duo, then "Mr. and Mrs. Smith'' is great—though Brangelina might be messily divorced now, their chemistry in the movie is addictive. For lovers of romantic comedies, I suggest classics like "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days'' and "Mamma Mia"—singing along with Pierce Brosnan will surely get the giggles going.
Time to wine and dine
Nothing says you put in the effort like a tasty home-cooked meal. Even if you're a novice in the kitchen, there are plenty of easy meal ideas to impress your partner.
If popcorn and nachos are the first course, it's time to move on to the entrée. If you're preparing this yourself, think simple—you don't want to appear sweaty and unappetizing from hours spent over a hot stove. You could go with a simple bruschetta—grilled bread rubbed with garlic topped by tomato, veggies, cured meat and cheese. Salads work too, as it's more a matter of arrangement than actual cooking. Mediterranean orzo pasta salad is both yummy and easy to fix. Personally, Italian food is the way to my heart, so if you're feeling confident, whip up some chicken parmigiana (I swear it's not as hard as it looks). If you're not a pasta person, try a vegetarian Thai curry.
And just so we're clear, the dessert can totally be store-bought. I recommend a panna cotta with strawberry puree for something sweet with a delicious side of a (supposed) aphrodisiac. Another good option is a slice of tiramisu, with its characteristic hints of coffee and the richness of mascarpone.
Ambience and indulgence
The atmosphere you create could make or break the night, so don't ignore the aesthetic.
I recommend creating the ambience by lighting some mood-setting candles with a scent you love. Once the mood is set, turn up the indulgence. Start by pampering your partner with a bottle of bubbly (sparkling cider works too if you're abstaining from alcohol) and some chocolate-covered fruit—strawberries are a good option and will be plentiful at any good grocery store for the holiday.
The next stage of seduction will involve creating an intimate spa experience, or as close as you can get to it at home. With towels at the ready, take turns giving each other massages using scented oils. Consider bergamot, lavender, orange blossom or vanilla—I'll probably get all four and decide night-of.
Once the massage is over, start a warm bath with your favorite bath salts, lighting the bathroom with candles, too, and adding some light music to sustain the mood while you bathe one another.
One of the biggest sells of Valentine's Day is that is it's a great excuse to shop for lingerie and sex toys—especially as everything is usually on sale at this time of year.
Consider sending a couple of sexts during the day to build some anticipation. This is especially important if your partner needs to be reminded of the occasion. Remember, not everyone is as romantic as you, so make sure your intentions are clear.
Consider using this opportunity to try new things. For instance, you could repurpose a sleep mask as a blindfold—I'm told it provides enough sensory deprivation that it's guaranteed to enhance every little touch. If you're a little more daring, you could talk to your partner about trying out new sex positions. For the adventurous, light kinky bondage with your favorite silk tie comes highly recommended.
Don't forget an affectionate gift
Very few things express your feelings like a tangible present, especially if your partner's love language includes receiving gifts. While spending a fortune on jewelry can be fun, I'm a fan of smaller gifts that indicate tremendous thought.
It's been a tough couple of years and I'm not made of money, so my plan this year is to give my partner a self-made gift that cost me nothing, but one I'm sure will be appreciated: 10 cards, each of which is an IOU for something nice, from a day out in the country to some very fun suggestions in the bedroom. If you have spare cash, vouchers for a spa work for everyone.
And last but not least: If you plan to celebrate the patron saint, St. Valentine, don't forget the most important phrase of the day: I love you.