Redeeming Valentine’s Day: Fun gift and dating ideas for loved ones

Redeeming Valentine’s Day: Fun gift and dating ideas for loved ones

Valentine’s Day is nearly here, which means singles are rolling their eyes and even couples are considering breaking up so that they don’t have to worry about topping last year’s date. 

Why is it that the day of love causes such groans of despair? Before you dump your sweetie or begin planning a “singles awareness” party, let’s try to redeem this so-hated holiday.

Below are the keys to what I believe will make a wonderful Valentine’s date, coming from a student who has had many bad Valentine’s Days and has spent time thinking about what could make them better. Yes, you can do it; no, it won’t cost much; yes, these concepts will work whether you’ve been dating for a few weeks or for many years, or even if you just want to make a best friend feel loved on Valentine’s Day. 

Think about what makes your special someone happiest; is it when you cuddle together? Give each other gifts? Spend quality time together? Help each other do chores or run errands? Talk for hours and hours?

According to Gary Chapman, there are five main “love languages” that people use to express and feel affection: spending quality time together, giving and receiving gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation (compliments or encouragement) and physical touch. These apply to all human relationships, whether between friends, family or couples. It sounds hokey, but even the roughest of guys I know have found that these concepts make sense. Try Googling “five love languages test” and take the quiz online, thinking about how your date would answer the same questions. Plan your date around your love language and your date’s love language. Here are some general date outlines that employ several of the “love languages”:

Almost everyone appreciates knowing that they are liked or loved, and hearing about why they are liked or loved. Guys and girls, allow this to be one of the few times you are both mushy and honest with each other. 

Whatever you end up doing for your date, it should include some of the following conversation topics (note: your answers should not be all about physical features): You first stood out to me because _____. One time, I tried to impress you by _____. What impresses me most about you is _____. The best day we’ve ever had together was _____. I get a kick out of watching you ____. Something awesome about you that not many people see is _____. If I could go back and relive any day of my childhood and bring the kid version of you with me, I would choose_____. 

If you’re still too early into the relationship for this conversation, think about your date and things you still don’t know about him or her. If you normally spend a lot of time talking about yourself, ask your date thoughtful questions for a change. 

If gifts are a big deal to you or your date, make the gift yourself (and from a female perspective, homemade gifts from a guy we like are pretty much guaranteed wins over jewelry or flowers). Homemade gifts take less money but more time and thought, which is why they are meaningful. Make the world’s best music mix, playing to your date’s tastes or inside jokes. Tell him or her why you chose each song, or let them wonder about it. Print out photos and make a collage or frame a picture. Write a poem. Sing a song. Draw a picture. Whatever your talents are, employ them to show your date that you think he or she is pretty great and should stick around for a while. If you insist on buying a gift, go somewhere like Target, Wal-Mart or Best Buy together; set a $5 price limit and a 10 minute time limit, and separate to try and find each other the best gift you can. Or place a bunch of smaller gifts (favorite snacks, memorabilia, etc.) in a big box and have your date unwrap them each individually. 

Finally, we move on to a few specific date ideas. Reservations will be necessary if you want to go to a nice restaurant, or you could go the night before or after to beat the Valentine’s Day rush. If a sweet dinner and a movie is not your thing, be creative and think of your favorite things to do together. Take mental notes of places your date talks about wanting to go. Do the same for activities. For example, if your date talks about loving Washington Park or wanting to try Mirko’s Pasta, now is the time to plan a date around those things. The date doesn’t have to be at night; go to your date’s house and serve breakfast in bed. Rent some kayaks or canoes from Mercer Outdoors and go to Lake Juliet or down the Ocmulgee with a picnic lunch (e-mail Kevin Andres at [email protected] for rental information). Go to a hockey or basketball game. Volunteer in Macon together. Make fondue together. Go stargazing. Turn the lights low in your room or apartment and take turns picking songs to dance to. Take an art class (or martial arts or dance class) together. Check out MaconArts.org for a calendar of local classes and events around Valentine’s Day.

Girls, be appreciative of whatever your date does for you; this is real life, not Twilight. If you would rather help plan the date than be surprised, say so; don’t expect your date to read your mind. Guys, you must give your date something worth being appreciative about. Go out of your way to be creative, romantic and kind. Both parties should consider what would make their date feel liked or loved and act accordingly. Try to please your date before expecting to be pleased yourself. And I’m serious about those love languages. Give them some thought. 

If you’re single, many of these ideas will work for a group of friends. Also, it’s a good time of the year to demand a care package from your parents. Lastly, if you’ve been eyeing or thinking about someone for a while, ask him or her out for Valentine’s! Do it! Chances are that they are only planning a girls’ or guys’ night anyway. If it goes badly, blame it on the writer from the Cluster.

Thanks to Marriedlifeonline.com for conversation topic ideas.