Valentine’s Day might be overly commercialized, but it remains an important time for couples to celebrate their love. Whether you are newly dating or have been married for years, the holiday is a great opportunity to reconnect and recharge your relationship’s batteries. Yet too many couples just go through the motions, grabbing something meaningless at a drugstore that morning. To truly show your partner how much you care, try doing something that is different and unexpected. Here are 20 romantic ideas sure to help you strengthen your bond.
1. Try something new and challenging
This will activate good brain systems for romance. Kick your relationship into high gear by taking on a new challenge together. Engage your dopamine system with something extreme if you can, like skydiving, or make each other laugh with your first attempts at pottery. It can even be rolling a pillow across the living room floor together, with your hands held behind your backs! Whatever you do, the point isn’t to try to be perfect. It’s simply to share a brand new challenge.
2. Have breakfast (or dinner) in bed
This year Valentine’s Day is on Saturday. You can have breakfast in bed! Whether you cook or order in, dining in bed is a wonderful way to reconnect. Fluff up the pillows, light some candles, and bask in the feeling of decadence. Choose finger foods that you can easily feed each other, and don’t forget some wine for dinner.
3. Send your sweetie on a scavenger hunt
Create a sweet surprise by sending your partner around town, or the house, to collect clues and small tokens of affection. The last clue should direct him or her to the restaurant, club, or other place where you will celebrate.
4. Make a personal coupon book
A gift certificate to a store could be seen as impersonal, but personalized coupons for favors are generally a big hit. Examples might include a foot massage, a home-cooked dinner, or even a “get out of jail free” card that pledges to forgive one screw-up with no questions asked. Put some thought into the coupons you create to ensure that they are customized to your partner’s needs and desires.
5. Enjoy an indoor picnic
Pick up take out from your favorite restaurant and then spread blankets and pillows out on the floor. Use the good dishes and stemware if the two of you are dining alone, or choose less breakable pieces when celebrating with your kids. Leave the cleanup for tomorrow, instead taking the time after dinner to reconnect.
6. Watch old black and white films
Who can resist the old-fashioned charm of Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Audrey Hepburn, and Bette Davis, not to mention Fred and Ginger? Curl up on the couch for a lesson in romance from some of the most glittering stars of the Golden Age.
7. Get out on the water
If you live near a body of water, take the opportunity for an evening cruise. From a gondola ride for two to a night of dinner and dancing on a paddle wheeler, a night on the water is inherently set for romance. Make time to simply sit and watch the stars together.
8. Compose a song or a poem
Dig out your college poetry journals or sit down with the guitar you haven’t played since you had kids. Composing something from the heart is one of the most romantic actions you can take, and your sincerity will more than make up for any imperfections in meter or notes.
9. Connect with nature
Spend some time hiking, bird watching, or just sitting in a local park. The fresh air will rejuvenate you while the sunlight will help reset your body clock. Hold hands and chat lightly, and you will feel your connection strengthening.
10. Book a staycation
Plan to spend the weekend at home doing absolutely nothing except enjoying each other. Prepare your home in advance by putting fresh sheets on the bed, laying in a supply of easily prepared foods, and making sure the bathroom is spotlessly clean.
11. Go off the grid
Take an entire day to disconnect from the world around you. Turn off your phones, computers, tablets, and other devices. Resist the urge to turn on the television, and consider keeping the lights off as well. What could be more romantic than spending the evening together by candlelight?
12. Be kids again
Go ice skating, bowling, or play mini golf. Get pizza and hit the arcade, or challenge each other to a go kart race. Being silly and childlike together helps you relax and find that innocent bond that comes so naturally to young teen couples.
13. Do something your partner loves
To really show how much you care, why not do something that your partner loves but you can’t stand? Whether his pet passion is basketball, opera, or standup comedy, surprise him with a pair of tickets. Odds are good that the tables will soon turn.
14. Indulge in nostalgia
To strengthen a fading connection, spend some time remembering the early days of your relationship. Recreate your first date, play “your song” from high school, or visit a favorite date night spot. Share your memories with each other, and enjoy the walk down memory lane.
15. Make a decadent dessert
Cooking together is a great way to connect, and everyone knows Valentine’s Day calories don’t count. Instead of buying a big box of chocolates, hit the kitchen together to create a rich chocolate dessert or two.
16. Get a couples massage
Massage is sensuous, relaxing, and rejuvenating. A couples massage lets you share the experience, setting the right tone for later intimacy. Be sure to choose something that will leave you feeling refreshed rather than a deep tissue massage that could cause some lingering soreness.
17. Go multicultural
You might not be able to book a last-minute world tour, but there is no reason not to bring international flavor to your lives. Plan appetizers, entrees, and desserts at restaurants of differing ethnicities, then wind down the evening doing something inspired by yet another culture. For example, you might enjoy Portuguese wine, Mexican tapas, Italian spaghetti, and French éclairs before heading to the Irish pub for live music.
18. Hold a private wine tasting
Bring home a few bottles of different wines you have meant to try, and hold a private tasting. Bring out the fancy glassware and go through all the steps of a proper tasting. If you need a refresher course, hit a local winery in advance.
19. Go shopping together
While not everyone loves to shop, those that do can take advantage of the opportunity to reconnect. Stroll through local antique shops, hit a few art galleries, or search for treasures at a nearby flea market. You don’t necessarily have to buy anything, but watching what your partner chooses helps you get a little further inside his head.
20. Pick out each other’s outfits
If you are hitting the town for a Valentine’s Day extravaganza, select each other’s clothing for the occasion. This shows a great deal of trust in your partner’s choices, and gives you insight into what makes her think you look fabulous.
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