COVID-19 has changed many of our approaches to the holidays, and there’s another important one coming up soon for couples: Valentine’s Day.
But even before the global pandemic, plenty of couples looked for ways to avoid the crowds, chaos, and, especially, costs of Valentine’s Day while still wanting to celebrate and honor their loved ones.
We’ve compiled the 10 best ways to safely and affordably celebrate Valentine’s Day in 2021, so you can better protect yourselves, your community—and your bank account.
1. A personal picnic for two
If weather permits, public parks, beaches, and lakefronts offer a tranquil setting for a private, homemade picnic with your special someone. Outdoor activities can be a safer way to meet others, particularly those who don’t live in your household, and sprawling lawns and sand make it easy to observe social distancing policies.
What to bring? Totally up to you! Easy-to-pack (and share) foods, like pre-packaged meats and crackers, sandwiches, and individual or homemade desserts, are a good choice.
2. Active activities
Take a hike, a bike, or a sunset stroll on a trail or path you’ve never visited before. If the weather is uncooperative, a free virtual yoga class or an at-home Bachata dance tutorial for couples can be a great way to try something new while staying active indoors.
Trying a new exercise can help inject some excitement into a relationship that has likely been marked by a lot of the “same-old” over the last several months of quarantining. What conversations and new connections will be uncovered once you get moving?
3. Fine dining (at home)
True, many of us have tired of cooking, but there are ways to make even this basic task feel romantic and exciting. You can make this a joint effort by coming up with a fun theme for the meal—a particular country’s cuisine, a callback to a favorite meal you’ve had in the past, or even going the breakfast-for-dinner route.
Whether you prepare the meal yourself as a Valentine’s Day gift to your loved one or cook together, we recommend keeping it fairly simple, so you aren’t spending the entire evening in the kitchen.
4. Romantic movie marathon
One movie is just another quarantine day. A romance marathon? That’s an event! Get some inspiration from IMDb’s list of most romantic movies of all time, fire up some popcorn, and get ready to swoon.
5. Valentine’s trivia
Think you know your partner like the back of your hand? Put it to the test. This 21-question quiz will assess your knowledge of each other—and give you plenty to talk about when you find out something new.
Next, test your pop culture expertise with Valentine’s Day trivia about all things love, from TV and film to music and history.
6. Build a bonfire
Chilly weather is the perfect excuse to cozy up by a warm fire. Fleece blankets, hot chocolate, and a s’mores kit will make for the perfect retreat in your own backyard.
7. Mutual massages
Bring the best of the spa home with a couple’s massage. We recommend starting with this “Couples Massage for Dummies” video to learn the basics and some special tricks (while ensuring you don’t accidentally hurt one another).
Pull up a spa soundtrack on your phone or wireless speaker to create a peaceful ambiance that will melt all your worries away.
8. Virtual cocktail classes
Learn how to make your own craft cocktails with a virtual mixology class or a series of Masterclass courses. You’ll discover what goes into mixing the perfect drink, whether it’s a classic old-fashioned or dirty martini, or a more imaginative concoction, like a watermelon margarita or mojito—then you can enjoy your creations. While some online classes are free or inexpensive, others are a bit pricey, so search for cost details before signing up.
9. Set up a scavenger hunt
You’ve likely become extra familiar with your surroundings these last few months. Take advantage of that and set up a scavenger hunt for your significant other, with riddles and clues that can lead them to various nooks and crannies before they finally discover your gift—which can be as simple as a love letter. And speaking of …
10. Handwritten notes and letters
In a mobile-first and virtual world, a genuine handwritten letter carries a lot of romantic weight. Don’t rely on a card to deliver a generic message for you—give yourself the time to write something thoughtful about what you love and appreciate about your valentine.
If you’re unsure how to get started, think back to your first date or wedding proposal, and take your partner back to that moment. Describe the setting and any other visual details as you remember them, and reveal the romantic feelings you had in the moment. As a bonus, you can include a favorite old picture or have your wedding video ready to watch to drive home the message.
While Valentine’s Day may be a little different this year, there are plenty of ways to celebrate love in a healthy way without breaking the bank. Choose your favorite activity from above or mix and match for an evening that you and your valentine will remember for years to come.