Quit being so predictable!
Like birthdays, Valentine's Day celebrations become repetitive after a few years. If you've grown disenchanted with the fancy dinners, chocolates, and roses, worry not, because we've rounded up a series of unique Valentine's Day ideas to combat the season's predictability. After all, what's romance without a little mystery, surprise and adventure?
Here's how to put some fresh energy into a your V-Day this year:
1. Learn about "love" in a new culture.
Every culture celebrates the day of love a little differently. For instance, in Japan, women give men chocolates on February 14th, while some parts of Britain serve buns baked with caraway seeds and raisins. Need more global inspiration? Check out YourTango's feature on Valentine's Day around the world and then try mixing a couple of fun new traditions into your own date night.
2. Throw a "Quirkyalone Day" party.
As much as we love batting heart-shaped piñatas during "Singles Awareness" parties, we'll concede that hating Valentine's Day feels just as trite and obnoxious as the day itself. Instead of throwing an anti-Valentine's party, participate in International Quirkyalone Day, when singles around the world throw feel-good parties celebrating empowerment, romance and gratitude.
Sometimes, these get-togethers encourage mingling; other times, they're just an excuse to enjoy Valentine's Day without the collective self-pity that often accompanies other singles' parties. For ideas, check out the movement's website, which recommends hosting an event at a public place, such as a library, and advertising it a few weeks ahead of time on Craigslist or Flavorpill.
3. Do touristy things in your own town.
Since plenty of people already dismiss Valentine's Day as corny, plan a few touristy activities that you and your honey have never done. And don't feel shy, take a zillion couple-y pictures while visiting those attractions. For example, if you live in New York City, ride a carriage through Central Park, have dinner at Serendipity, and play arcade games at Dave & Buster's in Times Square. Actually sounds pretty fun and romantic, eh?
4. Have a group date at someone's house.
Gather a bunch of people for a stay-at-home group date and split the duties. For instance, the men buy flowers, cook and serve the women dinner, while the women plan games, decorate or provide gifts (we suggest baked goods!). Keep in mind that if your party consists of both singles and couples, invite an even number of single men and women so that no one ends up feeling like a third wheel.
5. Volunteer to help those needing some love.
Valentine's Day is a celebration of love, so consider branching out from romance into charity and friendship. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, send flowers to nursing home residents, or check online listings for Valentine-themed fundraisers for reputable non-profits. Contact local women's and domestic violence shelters to ask how you can best show love to those who live and work there. Baking cookies or sending letters of appreciation to caregivers can make all the difference for people who have suffered because of corrupted relationships. (Find volunteer opportunities in your area at VolunteerMatch.)
6. Make a DIY gift.
By do-it-yourself, we don't just mean cooking dinner and making mixed CDs. Scout around for a personalized present she won't expect. For instance, Blends For Friends, creates a blend of loose leaf tea based on the recipient's personality. Simply provide your S.O.'s date of birth, hobbies, personality and physical appearance and see what the service comes up with once the box arrives in the mail. Or put a contemporary spin on homemade scrapbooks, by using Blurb.com to compile a book of love poems or love quotes, photographs or literary passages that describe your relationship.
7. Have a date at the dog park.
A global poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos revealed that one in five people would rather spend Valentine's Day with their pet than a partner. If you're having a hard time picking between the two, spend the afternoon at a local pet park before hitting the town on date night. Or, if you're single, forego the ice cream-laden night alone and take Fido out to play in your city's dog run. Who knows, you might just meet the dog-lover of your dreams.
8. Celebrate on a different day.
Restaurants sure are expensive and crowded on Valentine's Day, so postpone your date night to February 15th and spend the holiday itself indoors, relaxing with takeout and a couple of romantic movies. Go all-out the following night with bouquets and a reservation at a classy restaurant you've always wanted to try.
9. Give an alternative bouquet.
Roses may be the symbol of love, but they're also rather generic. If your lady's down with non-traditional presents, try substituting roses — heck, even flowers — with a different kind of "bouquet." Send a potted plant, a bonsai or even a miniature tree to her home or workplace. If she's got a sweet tooth, send her a candy bouquet, and if you're good with crafts, make flower bouquet using origami.