I love tradition just as much as the next person. My family would tell you I love it even more than most — guilty as charged. And yet, even this creature of comfort realizes that sometimes you have to mix it up and try something fresh and new. In my opinion, Valentine’s Day is one of those times.
Lots of options for a Valentine’s Day date present themselves, and dinner and a movie is probably the first one that comes to mind. It’s an obvious choice. You get a meal, and you get entertained. But what you don’t necessarily get is the opportunity to interact with your partner in a meaningful way. Turns out, noisy restaurants and darkened movie theaters don’t always allow for the most fruitful or engaging conversations.
Here are four unique ideas for a date you and your partner might enjoy. I’ve included a range of activities to accommodate varying interests and budgets, and while the details may differ, the purpose remains the same. Each of these ideas allows you to engage an essential part of yourself while engaging with your date.
Engage your creativity
Allow me to say that I am not artistically inclined in the least. Maybe you’re not either. I promise you that this does not matter. I have created things in both a pottery studio and painting class (multiple times, in fact) and thoroughly enjoyed the experiences.
Many cities have stores that allow you to select a piece of pre-made pottery and paint it. The upside here is that you don’t have to go through the painstaking work of creating the pottery. You just get the fun of painting it!
Similarly, there are places where you can register for an instructor-led painting class, and even enjoy a glass of wine while participating. The instructor will literally take you through the process of creating the artwork, step by step, and you will genuinely be amazed at what you are able to make.
In both of these examples, prior experience is not a prerequisite. The only thing required is an open mind and a willingness to have fun. Whichever activity you choose, you’ll be creating memories with your partner while also creating a work of art.
Engage your mind
Take a road trip with your partner to the nearest bookstore or local library. While you’re there, find a book or album or movie that has been particularly meaningful to you. Share it with your date, and explain to him or her (perhaps over a cup of coffee) why it is so special to you.
Perhaps the lyrics of a specific song stir your soul. Maybe one author’s story gave you the courage to walk through a difficult time in your life. Or, you might simply love a movie that makes you laugh until you cry.
Whatever item you choose to share, you will also be sharing a part of yourself and learning something about each other. Another potential bonus? You might even find a new favorite movie or author in the process.
Engage your appetite
Sharing a meal can be a great way to foster conversation on a date, but restaurants aren’t always the best settings for this. They can be loud and expensive, and getting a reservation — on Valentine’s Day, no less — can prove more than a little challenging.
Try cooking at home instead. You’re not limited by time constraints or space, and you get to prepare exactly what you want to eat. I recommend choosing something that will allow both partners the ability to customize their meal. For example, concoct your own taco bar, complete with various fixings. Or go to the store together and buy different toppings so you can each make your own individual pizzas.
The really wonderful thing about this type of activity is that it is family-friendly. That is to say, if you have kids and a babysitter is not in your Valentine’s Day plans, this is something the whole family can do together. My husband and I have two young children, and we love making pizzas as a family when we can’t sneak away for a date outside of the house.
Engage your heart
Volunteer your time together. Start the conversation by discussing causes that are near and dear to your hearts. Maybe nothing comes to mind immediately — that makes this a great opportunity to learn about an area of need you may not have known about. Alternatively, perhaps you both have charities that hold a special significance for you. Now you get a chance to practice the fine art of compromise. Who says a date can’t serve multiple purposes?
Volunteering together means you get to do good — and feel good about it. Hopefully, while proposing different ways to help others, you’ll learn something about your partner. He might care deeply about a program that supports women in unexpected pregnancy situations. She might be committed to increasing book ownership among at-risk youth. Whatever the cause, both you and the charity will benefit.
Whichever type of date you may try, the purpose is to grow in your knowledge of each other and have fun doing it. Whether you and your partner have been dating for one week or married for 52 years, there is always something new you can learn about each other. That’s part of the mystery of human love and intimacy: The more you love someone, the more deeply you come to know them; and the more you know them, the more deeply you love them.
There’s always some morsel or tidbit just waiting to be discovered, and Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate everything that makes us gloriously unique.