20 Valentine’s Day Ideas (From Romantic Gifts to Cheap Dates)
Whelp, it’s here again. When guys hear the acronym VD, I don’t know which version inspires more fear and pain — venereal disease or Valentine’s Day. If you usually look forward to this day as much as you look forward to a painful flare-up, then you’re definitely in need of some ways to salve the pain.
Don’t let this day get your proverbial panties in a twist. I’ve compiled a list of ideas for you that are (mostly) easy and (relatively) cheap to take the pressure of planning off you.
Romantic Valentine’s Day Ideas (#1-4)
Movies and TV shows tell us that most women love romance and romantic gestures. However, these gestures don’t need to be big and overblown. With just a little bit a work, you, too, can make her swoon.
1. Have a Shakespearean Night
Take a page from the Bard and have a Shakespearean night at the theater. This dude knew how to write! Even when you don’t quite catch what he’s saying, it still sounds romantic.
In almost every city and town, there will be some sort of Shakespeare play or exhibit going on, especially around this time. Look online for specific showtimes in your area. If you come up empty-handed, you can always rent “Romeo and Juliet,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” or “Shakespeare in Love.” Feel free to say thees and thous to each other the whole night — just don’t take it overboard into neckbeard territory.
2. Plan a Rooftop Date
There’s just something fun about being outside and high up. It gives us a new perspective and lets us rise above it all for a few precious hours. You can inspire those good feelings during a rooftop date.
This isn’t very hard to pull off. Get a light folding table and throw on a brightly colored tablecloth. Get a cooler with some drink options, some finger food that can be eaten hot or cold, and a thermos of your favorite warm drink (be it coffee, hot chocolate, or hot toddies). If you can, try to have your date take place right at sunset when the sky is the most beautiful.
Even if you’re somewhere cold, throw on a bunch of layers and put the rooftop date together anyway. She will always remember it and feel appreciative of you for pulling it off. If you don’t have a roof, just do it on a porch, patio, or yard. It’s the outdoor experience that counts. As long as there’s moonlight, there’s romance.
3. Recreate Your First Date
If you want to make your Valentine’s Day extra meaningful, go out and recreate your first date. Those activities will always hold a special place in her heart because it’s what brought you together. When you revisit places with positive memory associations, you bring those feelings to the forefront.
Of course, recreating a first date isn’t always easy for couples who’ve been together for years. Maybe you live in a different town now, or maybe the original date venue has closed. If so, try to recreate the spirit of the date. Whether you went to a music show, ate at a burger joint, or danced the night away at a club, do it all over again. Bonus points if either of you can remember specific details about that night.
4. Cross Something Off Each of Your Bucket Lists
One of the many ways to deepen a relationship is to create new and lasting memories together. The main reason relationships fizzle out is things become predictable, and you’re no longer creating new special memories together. This is why we remember vacations and travel so well but can’t remember what we ate for lunch yesterday.
Take a look at your bucket list and think of one thing each of you could do to cross an item off of your list. It doesn’t have to be anything as grandiose as hang gliding during a full moon (more power to you if it is though). Think of all the times you’ve said to yourself “I need to do that/go there/try this some time.” Well, this is the time!
Cheap Valentine’s Day Ideas (#5-8)
I know, I know — times are tough right now with money. However, there are tons of inexpensive things to do that are still romantic and fun.
5. Play Hooky
Now, I’m not recommending you be a no-show at your workplace — getting fired isn’t romantic. Playing hooky as adults means you both make arrangements to have the day off. Switch shifts, take a personal day, or call in sick if you have to. Just clear your schedules.
Playing hooky with a loved one can be a lot of fun. Start off with breakfast in your PJs, play some Settlers of Catan, binge watch “Futureman” on Hulu. Order pizza or take-out for dinner. And, my personal favorite, be naked all day. Crank up the thermostat, layer your living room with every blanket and pillow you have, and just see where the day takes you.
6. Create the Worst Poetry You Can
Just embrace the whole poetry aspect of Valentine’s Day and write some really bad poetry to each other. It doesn’t have to be a sonnet — a flirty limerick will do. Get a box of wine and read your poems out loud to each other. Here are two examples to help get you started:
“More than fungus loves your feet/More than roadkill loves the street/More than babies love to poo/That is how much I love you.” Or “More than dogs love their ticks/More than stomach viruses make me sick/More than kidney stones in your pee/That is how much you love me.” — Lucy B. Goosey
7. Do a Groupon Date
Go on Groupon.com or any other coupon site and see what’s going on in your area. I do this often, as it gives me a lot of ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. You’re always going to get a good deal on an out-of-the-box activity. You could do a dinner-murder mystery, have a hookah session, or attend a glass-blowing class.
8. Reduce and Recollect
We all probably have stuff that we could get rid of taking up space in our homes. Whether you’re donating old books, throwing out beat-up pots and pans, or finally cleaning out that junk drawer, getting rid of stuff is good and cathartic for couples who live together.
Pack a box of things that you’re getting rid of and meet your date, along with her box, for a coffee or whatnot at a park. Go through each other’s boxes and tell stories about the items you are chucking. It’s a good way to say goodbye to the old and welcome in the new.
Creative Valentine’s Day Ideas (#9-12)
Most of the joy in receiving a gift is the effort someone put into thinking of it or making it. I love trying to find creative gifts or come up with unique ways to give them. I once made a photo album of things that had happened earlier that day. Use some of the following creative ideas to get you out of the dinner-and-a-movie rut.
9. Set Up a Romantic Scavenger Hunt
We all love a little mystery and fun, and, with a little preparation, you could make a truly memorable day for your special lady. Have some cute notes ready when she walks in the door. These notes should lead her around the house or apartment.
At each stop, write a pithy little saying and include a mini gift and clue to the next location. End the scavenger hunt at her real gift. For example, “Clue #3. I see you CAN-t go wrong finding this chocolate in the pantry, but if you go to where our dog likes to eat, you’ll sniff your way closer to your gift.”
10. Volunteer or Do an Act of Service
I know volunteering may not sound like the most fun date, but trust me when I say that you’ll learn about and appreciate each other so much when you do something good together. It’s so much more active and fulfilling than a classic dinner date. Not only are you putting more positivity and love back into the world, but you’re also getting to see the best side of your partner.
On days like Valentine’s Day, there are some people who desperately need any extra love that you have. I adore this video of a couple on their first date going to give flowers to a woman they’ve never met.
11. Cook Together, With a Twist
It’s been well-documented that food and sex are intrinsically intertwined, and cooking together is a great way to work together and create a little foreplay before the main course. (Pun intended.)
For more fun, select four categories (like protein, vegetable, country, and style of cooking), and then write four examples of each on pieces of paper and toss them into a hat. Draw them out at random to see what you’ll be cooking. It could be shrimp, broccoli, Japan, and saute, or it could be chicken, asparagus, Mexican, and bake. Go to the store, get your ingredients, and make a love recipe.
12. Get Your Blood Pumping
Any sort of exercise increases the testosterone in your body, and testosterone (even in women) is the horny hormone.
If you’re runners, go find a fun route that isn’t too tough (you want to be able to talk along the way). Take a line dancing or hip hop dance class together. Heck, there’s even a trapeze school in New York City. Getting the blood moving is always healthy and creates endorphins and energy. Feel free to help each other shower off afterward.
Unique Valentine’s Day Ideas (#13-16)
Personally, I’m over the standard Valentine’s Day activities. Yes, I love going out to dinner with my lady, but I don’t need some random day to amp up the meaning of our relationship. Instead, I’d rather do something with her that’s new and different and creates new memories. While it may take a little more planning, you’ll remember it for a long time after.
13. Spend the Day at the Spa
Nothing is more luxurious than having someone pamper you while you’re relaxing together. Instead of going out to dinner, go out to a spa. Get massages (some places offer couples massages), get mani/pedis, or enjoy a cupping or Reiki session.
If you live near a large city, you may have spas that offer a day package that allows you to swim, sauna, spa, and more all for one price. You can get to put a fluffy bathrobe on for a few hours and see each other in swimsuits.
14. Pretend It’s a Different Occasion
My brothers and I still send each other birthday cards, but, after so long, it’s gotten boring, so we’ve spiced it up. We tried to find the most opposite card we could to give. For example, he’d get “Happy Bat Mitzvah to a Special Girl” and I’d get “Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to My Favorite Grandma.”
Do the same thing with your loved one when picking out your gifts. Get her fireworks. Bring a bag of Halloween candy. Show up in green with a six-pack of Killian’s. A crazy gesture can brush away the I’m-so-over-it feeling that this day can bring.
15. Adopt a Pet
This should only be done with proper planning and research. That said, if you guys have been thinking about getting a pet, Valentine’s Day is a great day to do it. Lots of shelters have adoption events around this time, and, like I said before, what a great day to give a lot of love to someone in need of a cuddle.
Not only will you be giving a fluffy creature a home, but you may be saving its life. Enjoy playing with your little ball of love!
16. Hire an In-House Chef
This has all the fun of going out without actually having to go out. In-house chefs can run the gamut in price — from getting Anthony Bourdain to a local restaurateur or a local culinary student. Check Groupon, Craigslist, or your local resources for ideas.
When I did this, I called a local restaurant that I knew was good and asked if they had any sous chefs who would be interested in making some money for an evening of cooking. I got an unadvertised chef at a great price.
Cute Valentine’s Day Ideas (#17-20)
The word “cute” sometimes doesn’t have the greatest connotation for most guys, but all it means is you’ve done something that makes your girl want to awww with delight. It’s usually fun and cute and lovey-dovey, and it possibly includes lots of frill and lace.
17. Scratch-Off Love Cards
I just fell in love with these cards and can’t take credit for coming up with them, but they’re pretty darn cool. Basically, you can create your own scratch-off love lottery ticket. Obviously, you’d need to think of this ahead of time, but it’s not that hard. I guarantee you’ll be the only person to ever do this for her.
Make as many scratch-off spots as you want, fill them with activities (10-minute massage, make you a drink, blindfolded food eating, etc.), and have her scratch them off one by one over the evening. Or have her scratch one a day and leave sweet thoughts to go with it (e.g., “You’re the most generous person I know”).
18. Living Room Picnic
We all see people on TV and in movies going on picnics, but I think the vast majority of people have never been on a proper picnic. So, make one in your living room. Each of you buy or prepare some things to eat or drink. Lay out a picnic blanket on the ground, use paper plates, have a cooler with drinks nearby, and get some plastic ants to add that realistic touch.
Light a candle with a scent like lilac, summer meadow, or apple orchard. Put on some nature/relaxation music, and find video for your TV that only has beautiful landscape views. Feed each other, drink some bubbly, and lie in each other’s laps.
19. Leave Little Love Notes All Around
Leave little love notes around the house throughout the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. Nothing is better than getting a small reminder of someone’s love when you’re not expecting it. It’s like the grown-up version of getting a note from your mom in your lunch.
You can hide the notes in obvious places and obscure places. If you number them with random numbers, she’ll never be sure if she found them all, and she’ll think of you every time she does.
20. Make Her a Music Box of Her Favorite Song
Most of the enjoyment of gifts is the thought and time that went into it. It could almost be a nonsensical present that had nothing to do with the holiday, but if handmade or well-researched, she’ll be over the moon for it.
I found this little ditty on Amazon where you can make a music box that’ll play whatever song you want it to. If you have a song between you two, you just know she loves a particular song, or you think it’d be fun to do an old-fashioned love song like “An Old-Fashioned Love Song” by Three Dog Night, she’ll freak out when she knows you made it yourself.
The Key is to Not Get Stressed in the First Place!
Obviously, you know your partner best. If your relationship is on the relatively new side, don’t go overboard. If you’ve been together a long time, you should put in a little effort to show you know what your lady likes. The thing that anyone will love best is knowing that you cared enough to put time and energy into it.
One last note for anyone who’s single: You should absolutely go out on Valentine’s Day! This holiday, as well as New Year’s Eve, is the best night for going out and finding a new hottie. If she’s out and not on a date, they you have a 100% chance of knowing she’s single and looking to mingle. Everyone wants to feel a little connection on Valentine’s Day. Good luck to all!