14 Dates of Valentines – Give the gift of experiences this Valentine’s Day with one (or all!) of these 14 date night ideas. Plenty of ideas for date nights in and dates out!
The 14 Dates of Valentine’s is one of my favorite gift traditions. I’ve done this a few different ways in the past. Sometimes, I’ve done the 14 Days of Valentine’s and tried to perform some act of service or give some small gift or note to Michael to show him how I love and appreciate him. In the years since we’ve had kids, however, I’ve found that what he appreciates even more is 14 Dates of Valentine’s, where I give him 14 different date ideas.
We are constantly stuck in a “I want to do something fun or relaxing with you but I’m so tired I can’t think of anything” sort of mode. In the last two years, we’ve made it a big priority to do a once a week date night out. We only have a couple of hours to work with and since it’s one of the only blocks of time in our week where we get to have a real, true, uninterrupted conversation, we’ve tried to make those weekly date nights a time for one-on-one attention and discussion, whether that’s about kids, life, or the latest book we’re reading. For us, that usually means dinner and talking (either lingering at dinner or running errands and talking).
Some couples really value the experience of trying new things together, and we do too on occasion, but most of the time, Michael and I would honestly rather just spend that time talking (and eating because we heart food) than focusing on trying something new, like taking a salsa dancing class together or going to a shooting range. Still, in these 14 Dates, I usually try to include a decent mix of things out and things in, as well as low and moderate cost dates. Most of these will be completed at home once the kids are in bed, so we keep things fairly simple.
Your list will naturally look different than mine, but here are a few ideas…
DATE NIGHT IN:
1. MELTING POT AT HOME (FONDUE!) – Named after the fondue restaurant, this is really just at-home fondue (on the stovetop or with an actual fondue pot). We shoot for savory options cooked in court bouillon (a seasoned vegetable broth, like they do at Melting Pot), a salad, and some chocolate fondue for dessert.
- Savory ideas: Andouille or artisan sausages, shrimp, sirloin steak or filet mignon (you only have to buy a tiny bit), chicken, mushrooms, potatoes, broccoli. Include a few dipping sauces (curry mayo, ginger-soy, green goddess, avocado, bbq, etc.) for the cooked items. You could certainly do a cheese fondue and include bread or crackers, etc. instead.
- Sweet ideas: Chocolate fondue, marshmallows, Rice Krispies treats (especially these toasted marshmallow ones), strawberries, bananas, kiwi, pineapple, clementines, graham crackers, pretzel sticks, cake bites, etc.
2. HOMEMADE PIZZA – Make homemade crust and make your own individual pizzas (or one masterful combined pizza). Try something new like BBQ Chicken or Thai Chicken, or white pizza. You could even get fancy and try deep dish, or grilling your pizza.
- This is my favorite traditional crust recipe (you can make the dough up to 3 days ahead of time or store it in the freezer!)
- This my favorite gluten free (and grain free!) pizza crust.
- THE BEST pizza sauce recipe.
3. COOKIES & COLORING – Bust out a freshly sharpened box of colored pencils and break in a grown-up coloring book together. Before you get started, mix up a batch of cookie dough and color while the cookies bake. Your house will smell amazing, you can chat while you color (or not), and you’ll end the evening feeling relaxed and happy. Yes, please.
- (Gluten Free/Grain Free) Double Chocolate Cookies
- Nutella Stuffed Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (From the archives – These have gluten and dairy. And they’re delicious)
- Coconut No-Bake Cookies (Gluten Free)
(p.s. there are hundreds of pages you can print out from online if you don’t want to get a whole coloring book.)
4. ANTIPASTO PLATE – This is one of my favorite things. Put together an awesome antipasto plate and enjoy a movie or game together. Try salami, roasted red peppers, baby tomatoes, grapes, nuts, marinated olives or mixed olives, and your favorite bread or crackers. If you’re a dairy eater, load up on a few great varieties of cheese! I recommend aged white cheddar, dill Havarti, and a good sharp cheddar. You could also go with brie or goat cheese. Other ideas include artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, dried apricots, etc. Add a sparkly drink (we love sparkling peach or pear juice), and call it a night!
5. BREAKFAST FOR DINNER. This NEVER gets old for me. Ever. I just love breakfast food. Make some fancy stuffed French toast, whip up some killer omelets, a stack of pancakes, or open a box of the good cereal (#goals). Watch a movie and eat breakfast (for dinner) in bed, or set up shop in the living room.
6. ICE CREAM TASTE TESTING. Pick up a few different small containers of ice cream, sorbet, or gelato (the really good stuff) and have a taste test. We really love Talenti sorbet (and gelato when we ate dairy), but the fine foods store and Whole Foods often carry locally-made or artisan brands that are really good.
7. TRY MAKING SUSHI (or potstickers or spring rolls) at home. It’s easier than you’d think and you can make them just the way you like!
- How to make sushi without a mat – Minimalist Baker
- How to make sushi (with a video!) – Snixy Kitchen
- How to make sushi – Gimme Some Oven
8. POPCORN AND GAMES (OR A PUZZLE). We both enjoy playing games and doing puzzles, but we never make time for them! Pop some popcorn (Caramel Corn, or this Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Corn are yummy!). Set aside an evening to actually play. Invite another couple over if you want more players. A few fun games that move quickly…
9. PLAN A REAL (OR DREAM) VACATION. Scope out somewhere you’ve wanted to go and find out what it would take to get there.
10. START (OR FINISH)THE 36 QUESTIONS. Some research says that these questions will bond two people enough to get married. We’re already married, but we still surprised each other with some of our answers. Add treats for best results.
A NIGHT OUT.
1. GO OUT FOR DESSERT! Go to a bakery (or fancy grocery store, or even Whole Foods!), and choose a few different desserts to try.
2. JUST TRY IT. Go to that restaurant you’ve been meaning to try finally. Seriously, just go.
3. SMOOTHIE AND STROLL. Head to a juice bar or smoothie shop. Pick up something great to drink and then take a walk while you drink them. (You could also try a fancy soda shop, or get something from a grocery store).
4. PACK A PICNIC (or pick something up). Eat at a gorgeous park (or take a hike or bike ride to a beautiful place) and enjoy being outside together. We love doing this in neighborhoods we want to scope out.
5. WALK THROUGH MODEL HOMES. This is better done during the day or early evening, but walk through and talk about what you do and don’t like.