Plan a Budget-Friendly, Romantic Valentine's at Home
Let's face it, when you have children, planning a special night out can be challenging (just try finding a sitter for one of the busiest nights of the year) not to mention expensive when you add in the cost of a childcare, dinner out and tickets to a movie, play or other event. And this year more than ever, with the current state of the economy, a lot of couples are pinching their pennies and want to celebrate in a romantic way without breaking the bank.
So this year, avoid the overcrowded and overpriced restaurants and increase the intimacy at home. Tuck the kids into bed early and enjoy some quality time with your spouse or partner.
Here are some ideas for creative ways to celebrate Valentine's Day at home and to make your partner feel truly special:
Dinner and a Movie
The traditional dinner and movie combination can be even more fun at home than out. To set the mood, snuggle up close at the corner of a table decorated with candles and a nice tablecloth. Pull out that special china and crystal you never use. Dinner can be elegant but simple. After all, this is supposed to be romantic – not a lot of work.
Another twist on this standard date, is to prepare dinner together as a couple. If you both love to cook and experiment, try something new. Even if it doesn't turn out perfect, you'll have fun spending time together as a couple doing the prep work.
Then borrow a classic, romantic movie from the library (free!) or video store, snuggle up with blankets and maybe enjoy some wine or hot chocolate. Or indulge in a decadent dessert – after all what's Valentine's Day without chocolate?
A Fireside Picnic
Spread a cozy blanket on the floor in front of a roaring fire, with some champagne chilled on ice. For an added touch, serve strawberries to bring out the champagne's flavor, or drop pomegranate seeds into the glass to tinge the bubbly pink. If you're the cooking type, make a special Valentine's meal or if not, order out from your favorite place, but be sure to ditch the containers and place the meal elegantly on nice plates. Don't forget to have some romantic music playing on the stereo and some candles to set the mood.
Draw a hot bath filled with scented bubble bath or rose petals. (Since roses are so expensive around Valentines Day, you can ask your florist for a package of plain rose petals, short stemmed roses, or for "seconds," ones that are slightly bruised since you won't be giving them in a traditional way.) Have a glass of wine and some chocolates by the side of the bathtub. Take turns pampering each other.
Fluff up the pillows on the sofa, play soft, classic music and turn off all the lights, except for one reading lamp. Find the most romantic novel and take turns reading scenes, while feeding each other cheese and crackers or chocolate-dipped strawberries. Sip champagne, relax and enjoy a story (you can find great classic romance novels at the library).
Leave a trail of flower petals to surprise your mate when he or she gets home. Create notes along the stops to remind your sweetie how much you love him or her or with funny anecdotes of times you've spent together. Your notes don't have to be lengthy, but they should be specific to make them special.
Cristi Driver is associate editor of Piedmont Parent Magazine, a sister publication of Carolina Parent, and she lives in Greensboro, N.C.