More often than not, our romantic date nights take place at home, with the baby monitor set up and Netflix turned down low so it doesn’t wake the kids. Our budget (or the kids’ schedules or 100 other things) often keeps us home, and when it comes to Valentine’s Day, dinner at a fancy restaurant that requires (gasp) makeup for me to sit down and peruse the overpriced prix fixe menu isn’t necessarily the most appealing option.
But that doesn’t mean romance is dead!
You can have a memorable, romantic evening right at home if you get creative.
So, I’ve collected some of my favorite ideas for staying home and having date night in on Valentine’s Day — or any day, really. Put the kids to bed, light some candles, pop open that bottle of wine you’ve been saving, and enjoy the life you and your sweetheart have built together. You deserve it.
Related: 12 seriously funny Valentine’s Day cards for couples who need a good laugh
1. Have a nice dinner at home, cooked by someone else. I’m not talking private chefs, here! Call your favorite local spot (that does not mean rotisserie chicken from the supermarket) and see if they’ll do take-out for you. Then set up your kitchen table complete with tablecloth, nice dishes, good flatware and candles. Let Alexa or Sonos play some mood music in the background while you enjoy an uninterrupted dinner, for once, complete with limited clean-up.
2. Try a date in a box. My husband and I had a lot of fun trying out DateBox, shown at very top. This subscription service gives you a complete date all in one box, as you might have imagined from the name. You can even select the “at home” version complete with activities, snacks, and items to bring it all together. f you’ve waited until the last minute, you can download their PDF versions, though that requires getting the supplies yourself.
3. Slow dance to your retro favorites. Surprise your partner with a DIY mix tape (or as the kids say these days, playlist) of all your favorite slow-dance love songs.
4. Get competitive. If a little friendly competition gets you in the mood, put together your own board game tournament for two. You can each pick a favorite two-person board game to play — not too long though, so no Monopoly! Feel free to spice things up with strip poker (or Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit) if you need a tie-breaker. And the kids are safely in bed.
Related: 11 Anti-Valentine’s Day gift ideas for your cynical SigOth or single best friend
5. Have a DIY wine and cheese tasting. A private wine and cheese tasting at home is not just fancy, it’s super sexy too. We even put together a whole post on how to make a fancy cheese plate using supermarket ingredients. Your local wine store should be able to help you with a list of wines to pair with what — and you can even buy a split of champagne (87.5ml) or a half-bottle of wine (375ml) so you’re having lots of tastes, not lots of glasses.
6. Make s’mores by the fire. Snuggle up in front of a fire with a big blanket and everything you need to make s’mores. (We highly recommend trying contributor Caroline’s tip: Use thin, homemade chocolate chip cookies instead of graham crackers.) If you don’t have a fireplace? No worries! We’ve also got a list of fantastic s’mores recipes that don’t require a campfire including a fabulous no-campfire s’mores dip that just requires a cast iron skillet and a stove top. And some fingers to lick.
7. Karaoke…but quietly. Turn on YouTube on the TV, search for your favorite karaoke version of songs you love, and get singing. Just don’t wake the kids!
8. Dream together. Dreaming up the things you want to to together — with or without the kids — can be a real aphrodisiac. Make a bucket list together, write out your dream travel plans for the future, or even just jot down a list of movies or books you have always wanted to experience together. (“What do you mean you’ve never seen Love Actually?”)
9. Find a new place for, well, you know. Changing up sexy time locations can add a lot of spice to your relationship, so once the kids are fast asleep (check, then double check) throw some blankets on the living room floor, or clear off the kitchen counter, or run the bath and get busy.
10. Bubble bath. No bubbles works too. But how indulgent is a bath for two? Light the candles, get the robes ready, and treat yourself to total relaxation, couples style.
11. Cook together. Does cooking together make you feel more connected? Then get in the kitchen! Have fun with by making up your own DIY Chopped competition at home. Or Nailed It if you want to laugh.
Or, just make some pasta and a salad together. If it’s something you don’t normally do together, it can be really romantic.
12. Plan dinner and a movie, with a theme The theme does not have to be “Valentine’s Day,” by the way. Instead, set up an Italian at-home date night with a screening of Moonstruck, a favorite pasta recipe, some Prosecco, and a slice or two of Tiramisu. Have an 80’s night with your favorite childhood foods (Mac n cheese? Burgers?) and a John Hughes double-feature. Or, try a Japanese night with sushi, sake, and some good anime. You get the idea.
13. Arrange for an at-home couples massage Splurge a little on a personal masseuse to come to the house after your kids are safely tucked in bed, and enjoy a back-to-back couples massage together. Soothe will help you find a professional masseuse who can even come within an hour. True luxury.
Budget version: Couples foot massages, performed by…you. Just be sure you don’t do them at the same time, so you can each really lie back and enjoy it when it’s your turn.
14. Netflix and, ahem, chill. It may be your comfortable routine, but there’s nothing wrong with a little Netflix and chill for Valentine’s Day. Find one of their most romantic movies, sexy movies, thrillers…whatever you two love is the right idea. And if you don’t make it to the end, that’s more than okay. It’s great.
Photos: Ingrid Hofstra, Karla Alexander, rawpixel.com via Unsplash