If you’re overwhelmed by the holiday and considering throwing in the towel altogether, wait a beat. Consider your significant other and your relationship, and reflect on easy, meaningful ways to express your love.
A perfect Valentine’s Day date doesn’t necessarily have to be the most over-the-top experience of all time. In fact, as marriage and family therapist Sean Davis explains, sometimes planning a great date is as simple as starting with your partner’s personality type.
“Creative ideas tailor-made to your partner are the best,” says Davis. “Prior to Valentine’s Day, do a quick brush-up on the five love languages to find out what really says ‘I love you’ to your partner,” he continues. “Then, surprise them by giving them something they’ve said they want that corresponds with that love language.”
Read on for 12 Valentine’s Day date ideas that range from over-the-top to DIY to unbelievably simple—all are sure to make your partner’s day.
Turn Your Bathroom Into a Spa
Wade suggests creating a romantic, relaxing environment in the privacy of your own home. “Turn your bathroom into a spa with candles, music, and your favorite, refreshing adult beverage on ice,” Wade says, noting that it’s pretty easy to make this date extra romantic if you just use your imagination.
To make the date even more special, gift your loved one a luxury robe, a new pair of slippers, or some gourmet chocolates to eat after a soak in the tub.
Plan a Gourmet Meal
If you’ve never cooked your loved one a homemade meal before, nothing will be as romantic as choosing Valentine’s Day to display some newfound kitchen skills. “Stay at home with the right music and candles for mood, and cook a sumptuous meal together. Or, you can order in, but at least make dessert,” Wade suggests. “This is a time to enjoy creating together. Sit on cushions on the floor or on a couch where you can recline.”
For an added touch, make it personal. For example, if your partner loves television and movies set in France or Italy, consider planning a French or Italian meal to cook together before watching their favorite show or film. You can buy all the ingredients, set the table, and pick out the music to set the scene.
Create a Picture Slideshow or Photo Album
Sometimes reflecting on photos and memories as a couple is way more romantic than any fancy restaurant or cheesy activity could ever be. Hire someone to put together a slideshow of your favorite photos and videos together as a couple, or do it yourself if you’re on a budget. You can also print off some of your favorites and put them in a scrapbook or photo album for your partner. After dinner on Valentine’s Day, surprise your loved one with the images over a bottle of Champagne or dessert.
Plan a Special Hike
For those who love to hike, it might be tempting to visit the same trails over and over again. For a date that feels both special and familiar, why not take a hobby you both share and put a unique spin on it? For the holiday, you can pack Champagne to pop at the end of the hike, or go in the morning to watch the sunrise from the peak. Alternatively, you can visit a trail that’s off the beaten path, or one that ends near a brewery with great outdoor seating.
Take a Surprise Vacation Day
If your partner is all about quality time, do everything you can to plan a date that emphasizes this, says Davis. “Clear your work schedule and contact your partner’s employer ahead of time to see if you can clear theirs as well, then spend the day doing something you both enjoy,” he says.
This may seem pretty vague, but the key for people who crave quality time with their partners is to simply prioritize being together with zero distractions. The details of the day itself aren’t all that important so long as phones are off, notifications are muted, and you only have each other to focus on. If you find yourself stressing about the specifics of a Valentine’s Day date but know your partner loves quality time, concentrate your energy on eliminating as many distractions as possible first and foremost.
Highlight What You Love About Your Partner
For people who crave words of affirmation, hearing a list of “specific, nuanced” things that you love about them is incredibly important, Davis explains. This means things that go beyond mundane, everyday compliments. For a Valentine’s Day date to remember, brainstorm how you can incorporate a list of these things into a date or event. Maybe you simply write a letter to your significant other and present it with another special gift, or perhaps you can tell them after you both do something you love together, like hike, cook, or exercise.
“Small gestures like that are the glue that holds relationships together, but they rarely get any mention,” Davis says. “You’ll be surprised at how seen your partner feels once you do this.”
Learn Something New
If your partner is all about trying new things, bringing in an expert to teach you both a new skill could be an exciting Valentine’s Day date. Hiring a virtual mixologist, chef, or dance teacher means that you can have this experience from the comfort of your own home. Before the big event, grab cocktails, have some appetizers, and light candles to make the evening feel even more like date night. Afterward, share a meal and laugh about the experience, or maybe even book more lessons together.
Set Up a Luxury Scavenger Hunt
If the perfect Valentine’s Day, for you, involves showering your loved one with expensive gifts (lucky them!), you might find yourself wanting to give them gifts in a way that’s a little more interactive and unique than just sliding boxes across the dinner table. In this case, consider building a scavenger hunt for Valentine’s Day. Each clue can either be a special gift or lead to a series of special gifts. You can also pepper in smaller gifts, like chocolate or cards, throughout the experience. It’ll feel like a game and an activity you both can experience together, so it’s a win-win.
Take a Road Trip
We all know that person who loves nothing more than a road trip—the playlists, the snacks, the wacky, off-the-beaten-path tourist traps. Sound like your sweetheart? Plan a road trip for V-Day! Stock the car with their favorite candy, snacks, and other treats, and pick a few locations on the map that you can drive to within the day. You can even build a playlist with songs that remind you of your relationship or set a timer, so that every 50 miles, you have your loved one grab a love note from the glove compartment.
Plan a “One Day” Day
You know all those things you and your significant other have always said you’ll do “one day”? You’ll order from the fancy sushi place one day. You’ll rent a convertible and drive through the cost one day. You’ll play tennis together one day. You’ll finally splurge on that new backyard projector one day, or make s’mores in the backyard, or ride bikes together at the beach. Why not take a handful of those things and work them into one day-long date? Present your partner with a schedule in the morning (pair it with a cappuccino for bonus points), and explain that there’s no time like the present, and you know they’ve always dreamt about doing these things. Then, let the fun begin!
Have a Themed Dinner
This one is pretty flexible, and the good news is you can alter it based on your partner’s favorite things. You could cook dinner based on your partner’s favorite movie or country. You could have a nostalgia-filled evening with all your partner’s favorite meals from childhood, paired with their favorite movies, shows, and music from growing up. You could make a three-course meal that’s based on you and your loved one’s most beloved restaurants to visit. The point here is to give a home-cooked meal some meaning and some thought and to make it personalized. It’s more romantic than you might think.
Pull a “Sweet Home Alabama”
There’s a reason why so many people remember the ring shopping scene from Sweet Home Alabama—you know the one where Patrick Dempsey’s character takes Reese Witherspoon’s character to Tiffany’s, turns the lights on, and says she can pick one as he proposes? It’s pretty romantic. It’s also a little over-the-top, but it can be recreated on basically any budget. After sharing a coffee or some breakfast together, take your partner to their favorite store (a fancy jewelry store works too) and ask them to pick whatever they want.