Valentine’s Day can be tricky. The babysitter has to be booked months in advance, your bank account is looking a little slim, and the restaurants are crowded. You want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, just not with everyone else in the world. Maybe this is the year you should consider moving the celebration to your own living or dining room. Our writers have come up with some ideas to help you have a fabulous Valentine’s Day, right in your own home. Put the kids to bed early and celebrate your marriage!
Have a Fondue Night: When my husband and I were dating, one thing we enjoyed was making fondue. The great thing about fondue is that it requires a bit of time between bites which encourages conversation. Of course, making fondue requires a fondue pot. If you don’t have one of your own, try calling a friend who got married in the 1970s. She will most likely have one. Or, search the Goodwill. Worst-case scenario is you’ll have to buy one. They run from $25-50, which will still be cheaper than going out. I recommend starting the evening with a yummy salad, some cheese fondue and some crusty bread, then a meat fondue of some sort for the main course, followed by a little chocolate fondue with fruit for dessert. Three minutes on Pinterest will supply you with all the recipes you need. Turn on some romantic music and perhaps you can do a little bit of dancing after dinner. Enjoy! – Nancy Holte
Be Intentional, With or Without Kids: After the kiddos are in bed we make coffee and play Bananagrams (or any other favorite board game), order in pizza and watch a movie (Star Wars or Captain America anyone?), 20 Questions even if we think we know all the answers. If the kids are awake still, we plan a special dinner at home and have everyone dress up! It is amazing how well-behaved they are when in fancy attire. When they are older, we dream of them being the waiters! Fun-shaped pancakes with sprinkles are another favorite in this home. When it comes down to it, being intentional with your time is what makes it special whether on Valentine’s Day or not. Have fun and enjoy the time together! – Susan Rueter
Kid Swap With Friends: Valentine’s Day has always been a big part of my family’s story because my parents were married on February 15. Growing up, those two days were like a second Christmas at our house. That tradition of celebrating love carried through to our own family. We typically do something really special with the kids in the morning, like a candlelight breakfast with family favorites and gifts. After that, our best Valentine’s Day events have been well-coordinated with some close family friends. We each take a two-hour block of watching each other’s kiddos. Our friends love to go out as they are the parents of two special needs children. We take the first shift and bring our brood over there. We take on the task of feeding all the kids; our dinners have been everything from heart-shaped pizza to burger night. When our friends return, we head home while our kids enjoy a movie at their house. Our activities range from enjoying a movie together, just enjoying the quiet in our house for a few hours, to making a gourmet meal. My personal favorite was the year I set up a camping theme evening in our kids toy room. Since we were in a hurry to get to our friends, my husband never suspected a thing. I had the tent, the sleeping bags, a picnic supper, and lanterns all set up. It wasn’t exactly dining under the stars but with the reflective stars on the ceiling it was pretty close. – Kandy Noles Stevens
Give a Heartfelt DIY Gift: When my husband and I got married thirty years ago, we were counting our pennies. We couldn’t afford big extravagant date nights and grand gifts. My husband has always preferred heart-felt homemade gifts. So, when Valentine’s Day has come around, I’ve gotten creative. One Valentine’s day I filled a jar with chocolates and hand-written notes. I thanked him for being such a good father to our children. I wrote about his beautiful blue eyes and the strength of his character. I wrote notes reminding him of some of our favorite memories. He still has that jar of notes on his night stand. Other times, I’ve baked heart-shaped cakes. And once, I made a card filling in the message with names of candy bars. Most of these are on Pinterest now, but “back in the day” they were in Good Housekeeping magazine articles. Valentine’s Day doesn’t need to be an elaborate production. It’s about enjoying each other’s company and making a memory. – Kathy Banta
Learn Something New: Some of my favorite date night memories are of times when my husband and I went out to try something we had never done before. Once, we used a Groupon to try archery. It was the first time either of us had shot a compound bow. Within five minutes my husband had mastered it and was shooting the plastic deer targets at the far end of the range. I, on the other hand, had managed to hurt myself (just a bruise — you have to keep your elbow out of the way…). I eventually got the hang of it, and we really enjoyed shaking things up and having something new to talk about. Thanks to YouTube and how-to blogs, you can learn new things without even going out! You can try rolling your own sushi, learning a new dance step, or finally solving that Rubik’s cube in the privacy of your own home, on your own schedule! Who knows, you might find a new passion that will lead to years of great date nights. – Karah Hawkinson