You know what’s coming: Valentine’s Day! How do you keep this holiday low-stress for you but special for your loved ones? Here are 10 Valentine’s Day ideas (including no-cost options) to help you show your appreciation for your valentine, whether it’s a partner, child, or friend.
1. Do something healthy together.
Carve out time on Valentine’s Day to do something healthy together. You could go to a yoga class or take an art class. Make a homemade meal together, try a new recipe, or take a cooking class. You could also go sledding or ice skating — it’s a good excuse to channel your inner child and play outside!
2. Give them alone time.
For some life stages, such as for households with young or busy children, having alone time to relax might be the perfect gift. A busy parent might appreciate you taking the kids outside for sledding or snow fun while they take a warm bath (add aromatic bath salts or a bath bomb for extra relaxation), enjoy a warm beverage, curl up with a good book, do a facial, or take a nap.
3. Give them away time.
Another Valentine’s Day idea is to give them space to do something they enjoy away from home. Send your partner off to walk with a friend, go shopping, go ice fishing or do something else enjoyable outside of the home.
4. Make a special meal or dessert.
If your valentine does most of the cooking, it might be time to kick them out of the kitchen! Create their favorite meal, a recipe you know they enjoy, or a yummy dessert. Check out our recipes for ideas — like our pistachio-crusted salmon, grilled sirloin steak with pesto, or wild mushroom risotto. The co-op puts together a steak and lobster combo each year if you want to do a surf and turf meal — ask for details at the meat counter! If cooking’s not your thing, consider ordering takeout from a locally owned restaurant or grabbing a meal from the deli.
5. Create an outdoor experience.
Another one of our favorite Valentine’s Day ideas is to embrace winter fun and create a memorable outdoor experience. If your valentines love outdoor activities, plan a snowshoeing or skiing outing. Or think “outdoor cozy” by having a bonfire and serving hot cocoa.
6. Do a project for them.
If your valentine appreciates it when you do things for them, consider doing a project they’ve wanted to tackle but haven’t had the time to do. Volunteer to organize a cupboard or a closet. Clean out the garage or deep clean their car. Give them a foot massage. Organize their recipes or bookshelf. Just be sure to double check that it’s OK before you do certain organizing tasks so you don’t mess up their system!
7. Make a “best of” list.
If your loved one likes to hear words of appreciation, it’s a great time to write down a “best of” list about them. For example, you could write down a list of 10 or more of: their qualities that you love, favorite memories of the two of you, why you love them, things they do that you appreciate, and more. You can even write 30 notes on small pieces of square paper, fold each into an origami star, and put them inside a jar, so your valentine can open one sweet note every day for a month.
8. Don’t forget the kids.
Treat the kids in your life this Valentine’s Day, too. For young adults: Start a binder of favorite family recipes, including notes in the margins, such as “Grandma made this for birthdays” or “This is Bumpa’s favorite breakfast.” They might enjoy some Fair Trade chocolates or facial masks. For teens: Consider gifts such as Pacha bath bombs, jade face rollers, or Darn Tough socks for keeping warm when snowboarding, skiing, and doing other winter sports. For little ones: bath crayons, board books, Eeboo games, or Warmies, which are stuffies you can warm up on cold days.
9. Do something for you.
Another Valentine’s Day idea is to do something special for yourself, whether you have a special valentine or not. Start a meditation practice. Plan your garden. Buy a houseplant. Do a DIY project, like an oil infusion. Give yourself a break from cooking by picking up a take-and-heat meal from the deli, with a scrumptious dessert to end your meal on a sweet note.
10. Turn off your phone.
Give yourself some quiet on Valentine’s Day by turning off your phone and focusing on your well-being or your loved ones. According to the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, having your phone out during a conversation impedes how you connect with others and decreases the quality of conversations. So unplug and connect with your valentines, whatever activities you choose.
For more Valentine’s Day ideas for making a special meal, see our videos of local chefs, such as Yia Vang making duck laab, and Maurice Wallace making blackened catfish. Other recipes to consider are Grilled Tuna Steak with Mango Salsa, Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Vegetables and Gremolata, and Red Thai Coconut Curry with Winter Vegetables. Looking for a special present? See gift ideas that support women artisans, local businesses, or are good for the environment.
This article was updated in January, 2023.