Don’t Stress. I Got You.
Birthdays. Anniversaries. Date nights.
There are already so many days in the year that radiate romance but none with such an obligatory feel as Valentine’s Day. This is the day when couples everywhere must prove how much they love their significant other in fear that if they don’t live up to the societal standards, they’ll fail as a partner.
Now, for some people, Valentine’s Day is the best day of the year. For others, it’s a corporate scam fooling those all around the world into spending hundreds of dollars each just to show someone you love them. Wherever you stand, there is pressure. Pressure for that perfect date you can brag about on social media or to all your friends the next day.
If you’re feeling the pressure this Valentine’s Day, let me give you some fun (and COVID-safe) ways to show your affection without it feeling stale and store-bought.
Every couple is different. And yet, there seems to be a set of rules to follow on this holiday. Get flowers, have dinner, receive a heart-shaped box of chocolates, etc.
But that might not be what you want.
While everyone is different, I’ve narrowed down the three most likely moods you might be in this Valentine’s Day:
If you’re a sucker for love and looking for any way to spoil your significant other, I totally get it. But the problem with being a hopeless romantic around this time of year is that big businesses try to market to you what love is. Fancy reservations at the most expensive restaurant? Giant bouquets delivered to your job? Spelling your partner’s name in the sky? Those aren’t love.
Those are all fleeting examples of romance branded to the right person at the right time. Love is time, energy, conversation, and much more. It’s the lasting feelings after those big romantic gestures are gone. Romance can’t be bought. It has to be felt.
And there’s no better way to get into that romantic feeling than a drink you have to make with the love of your life.
The Fashionable Fig: made of many ingredients known to represent love and romance. And it’s a time-consuming cocktail that only those who truly want to spend the holiday together can manage.
2 ounces Bourbon
1 ounce Fig Syrup (See recipe below)
2 dashes Old Fashion Bitters
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 Pomegranate-Marinated Fig (See recipe below)
1 jar Fig Jam
30 Dried Figs
4 ounces Pomegranate Juice
3 ounces Simple Syrup
6 dashes Angostura Bitters
Remove lid from jar of fig jam
Microwave jar for 30 seconds
Scoop contents into pitcher
Boil water in a tea kettle
Fill glass jar to top with hot water, stir until dissolved
Chill and put into squeeze bottle
Cut dried figs in half and put into storage container
Combine pomegranate juice, simple syrup, and Angostura Bitters
Pour pomegranate marinade over figs
Combine Bourbon, fig syrup, and remaining bitters into cocktail shaker
Add ice and shake vigorously
Strain over fresh ice
Garnish with marinated fig on a pick
After a great drink, you gotta eat, right? When making the best romantic Valentine’s Day dinner, try using ingredients that symbolize romance, or try making something that the two of you love to cook and can do together. Some options are:
Avocado Toast with tomato
Salmon Dinner with your favorite sides
Cucumber and Tomato salad
Mediterranean Quinoa with arugula
Stuffed Chicken Breasts
But once dinner and drinks have been served and consumed, what will the rest of your night look like? Especially if you have to stay in due to the pandemic? Don’t worry, because I’ve got some romantic stay-at-home ideas for you and your partner.
Serenade Your Partner: Some people are musically gifted with the voice of an angel. If you’re blessed with this talent, sing/play a song for your significant other to let them know how you feel. If you’re extra talented, write a song yourself to make it even more personal.
Scavenger Hunt: Set up clues around your home for your partner to find. With each one, include a note that tells them how much you love them, why you love them, or a favorite memory/date you remember. This will win you brownie points for sure and will have any hopeless romantic smiling ear to ear.
Spa Night: Run the bath and get those massage oils ready, because your home is about to turn into a full-service spa. Take turns pampering each other for a sensual night of relaxation.
Write Poetry: Get in the creative mindset, and write each other poetry. Make it about your partner or a memory you two share. Then have an open mic night in your living room and present your masterpieces with each other. I bet you’ll both be blushing by the end of the night.
Not every couple is a ‘shout from the rooftops how much we love each other’ couple. If we’re being honest, I don’t understand how those types of couples have the stamina to always be on like that. But I digress.
If you’re the type of relationship that likes to chill and relax during your time together, or maybe you’ve been together for years and you’ve done the whole Valentine’s Day song and dance, that’s perfectly okay! Because this holiday is supposed to be about you and your partner, not about what others are doing.
But Valentine’s Day should still be a little different from your normal chill night in. Here’s what you can do to spice it up without having to get up.
Before you reach for the gin and tonic right now, I have a super simple cocktail to start off your night.
Vodka and Cranberry Blush: This is a drink that looks like you put in a lot of effort when in reality, you just mix a few everyday ingredients and served it over ice. Plus the pinkish-red color puts you in the holiday mood.
½ ounce Vodka
½ ounce Triple Sec
1 ¾ ounces Cranberry Juice
1 ounce Orange Juice
Strips of Peel from a Lime
Crushed Ice, to serve
Peel the lime, set peel aside while you prepare drink
Pour vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and orange juice into a cocktail shaker
Shake until well combined
Pour over crushed ice
Top drink with stip of lime peel
That drink might have been a little out of your comfort zone, and that’s okay. A step here or there is good for character. But now dinner awaits, and I won’t make you bend over backwards to create a five-course meal. I have suggestions that will give even the most chill couple a sigh of relief:Order Takeout
Create-Your-Own Sandwich bar
Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs
Now that you’ve gotten your fill and maybe you’re a little tipsy from the drinks (although we do suggest you drink responsibly), Valentine’s Day activities can commence.
Watch a Movie: Set up some pillows, blankets, and a projector and put on your favorite romantic movie. Or maybe you’re into action or sci-fi or just starting a wild season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Whatever your taste, choose it together and enjoy each other’s company.
Board Game Night: Pick a couple games from the game closet and participate in some friendly competition. Nothing says love more than “checkmate.”
Read: Maybe y’all are too tired to move and you’re both in the middle of an intense book. Cuddle up next to each other, enjoy the presence of one another, and read. You’re together, and that’s all that matters.
Bonfire: If you live somewhere warm enough, set up a fire outside and relax under the stars. Maybe grab some marshmallows and graham crackers for a delicious and easy dessert option you can share.
Are you a kindred spirit? Do you like to have fun or be goofy with your partner? Don’t let stereotypical Valentine’s Day traditions bog you down! There are plenty of fun things to do on February 14. You just need to know where to look. And luckily for you, I’ve done the looking so you don’t have to.
If candlelit dinners and steamy nights in are not your cup of tea, I’m with you. Where’s the originality? Some people aren’t bred for that high-end lifestyle. And why did we stop all the fun activities that came with elementary and middle school Valentine’s Days? Just because we age doesn’t make decorating Valentine boxes and passing notes to your secret admirer any less fun!
For a more adult version of that same atmosphere, the right place to start is with a super fun cocktail.
Snickers Martini: the way to capture your inner kid while still obtaining a buzz. Who says you can’t put candy in your cocktail?
1 tbsp Thick Caramel Sauce
2 tbsp Roasted Peanuts, finely chopped
1 (50g) Snickers Bar
½ cup Chocolate Liqueur
½ cup Thickened Cream
2 tbsp Butterscotch Schnapps
Ice Cubes to shake
Spread caramel sauce over a small plate
Place chopped peanuts on another small plate
Dip the rim of 2 martini glasses into caramel sauce, then dip in the peanuts to coat
Place in fridge to set
Cut Snickers bar into small squares and skewer the pieces
Place chocolate liqueur, cream, and schnapps in a cocktail shaker
Fill with ice cubes
Shake vigorously until well combined
Strain mixture into prepared glasses
Top with Snickers skewers
If you thought the martini was exciting, wait until you see what I have planned for your dinner! To keep the fun going, I’ve chosen foods that are not only enjoyable to make, but also fun to eat:Sushi
Meatballs (for pasta or a sub!)
Big Breakfast (in bed?)
Living Room Fort: Don’t put your inner child to rest yet! Grab those pillows, blankets, sheets, and whatever else you have lying around and build a fort in the living room! You can leave a side open to watch a movie on the TV, too!
Video Games: What’s better than crushing your significant other at Super Smash Bros? Nothing. Find your favorite multiplayer games and enjoy the competition.
Dance: Whether you’re trying to learn a TikTok dance, attempting ballroom choreography, or making up the moves as you go, let loose and dance like no one’s watching!
Nacho Bar: Still hungry? Build a nacho bar and veg out on the couch. If you can’t throw away your dignity and unbutton your jeans at this point in your relationship, there’s no hope. So, eat the melted cheese and revel in your partner’s company.
If you read through all of this, and you’re still stumped on what to do, don’t sweat it. If you’re in the right relationship, you’ll know what to do to make this Valentine’s Day great for you and your significant other. As long as your heart’s in the right place, and you spend the time together, nothing can stand in your way this February 14.