19 Valentine’s Day Ideas Long-Time Couples Swear By
Same old, same old? Not this year! Here’s how to spice things up this Valentine’s Day, according to long-term couples who make romance a priority.
Keeping the romance alive
It’s a special adventure when you find someone you want to share your life with. From the big milestones, like marriage and children, to the little everyday rituals that make you love each other more with each passing day, it all builds a happy relationship. Most couples who have been together for a number of years develop traditions around holidays, including the one dedicated to all things love: Valentine’s Day. Some choose to stay home, snuggled and cozy with Netflix, while others use it as an excuse to paint the town red or book a table at one of the most romantic Valentine’s Day restaurants in the country. Whatever the case, there’s no right way to celebrate your affection; it’s whatever is right for you. But if you and your number one are looking for new ideas to explore, consider these tips from duos who have their own special traditions for February 14th.
Create a relaxing staycation
For some wild reason, Brad and Soraya Kilgore decided to get married at the young age of 21, and now they’ve been happily hitched for 12 years. As chefs, they spend a lot of time in restaurants together, so that’s the last place they want to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Instead, they use the holiday as an excuse to fully disconnect and hole up together in a hotel, far away from their jobs. “Since we are both in the restaurant industry, getting time alone is few and far between, so we make it a priority to do a staycation and just relax,” Brad shares. “I like to shut my phone off, but I end up coming back to hundreds of emails! The time quiet time with Soraya is totally worth it, though.” These are the best staycations in every state.
Write each other an annual letter
In the past 10 years of being married, Sarah and Zack Klutz have developed many traditions to celebrate Valentine’s Day. From staying home and cooking a steak dinner to visiting a local hot springs for some R&R, they’ve had plenty of time to perfect what they prefer. Sarah’s favorite, though, is writing an annual letter to each other as a way to express gratitude for their relationship. Now that they have two kids, the letters may not be as long as they once were, but they’re still equally meaningful. And that’s not the only way they maintain their marriage. They don’t just prioritize date night once a year in February, says Sarah—they make sure to go out at least once a month to keep the spark strong. They’ve got the right idea: Regular date nights are statistically proven to keep a relationship healthy.
Include your kiddos in the celebration
If you live in Portland, Oregon, you’ve probably heard of Nick Steele and Kristen Flowers since they host a radio show together. They’ve been married for 10 years, and these days, they look at Valentine’s Day not just as a celebration for a party of two but as a moment of love for the whole family. Usually, they make a special meal or a fun dessert. “We always get a special Valentine’s Day card for our daughter to show her that she is loved,” Kristen says. “It’s a day for love, and for us, that includes children.”
Nick also goes the extra mile to make his wife feel adored, like last year, when he asked her to run out and grab coffee for them. While she was gone, he decorated the whole space with V-Day decor. “It made me feel special and surrounded me with love the whole day,” Kristen says. If you’re thinking of giving flowers, first make sure you know the real meanings behind different rose colors.
Work up a sweat together
Truth be told, author and certified health coach Christine Egan and her husband, Frank, aren’t the biggest fans of Valentine’s Day. As Christine puts it, it can be too disappointing and present unrealistic expectations that no one can meet. They’ve been in a happy relationship for 24 years, and they use the holiday as a chance to work up a sweat together. And no, not like that—in the gym! “My husband and I shared a fitness goal of participating in a 36-hour endurance event. We trained for over six months together. We would climb stairs, run at night, exercise for over eight hours in a day,” Christine explains. “All those activities put us out of our comfort zone, but it created a deeper connection in our relationship with each other.” Plus, this won’t put a massive dent in your bank account. Here are some more ideas for the best Valentine’s Day on a budget.
Choose a different day to celebrate if your schedules are crazy
Like any other holiday, February 14th falls on a different day of the week each year. Especially if both of you have super busy schedules, finding time for a three-course-meal on a random weekday can be tricky. That’s why Leah and Joseph Lupo create their own day to celebrate, either the weekend before or after—or, really, any other time that makes sense for their life. They call it the Tuesday Card. “The sentiment is that while every day won’t be bliss, there are many days that you feel ‘extra love.’ Show your appreciation in a special way [then]: Surprise your partner with a card, flowers, their favorite meal, or get a babysitter and take them out, just the two of you,” Leah explains. Don’t miss these 19 funny Valentine’s Day cards we’re buying this year.
Go shopping together
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Rather than stressing out about choosing the perfect gift (and then picking something random), Nicole and David Pomije, the owners of The Cookie Cups in Minnesota, go shopping as a couple. They’ve been together for eight years and have one child, and they see the excursion to the mall as a fun experience, with less pressure. “Instead of coming home with gifts to unwrap, we go out and splurge together,” Nicole shares. “One year, we both got fancy sunglasses for an upcoming trip. Another, we did fancy fragrances. We have crazy schedules, so spending time together outside of the house is the best-case scenario for us and we enjoy it.” Looking to get away from it all with your significant other? Check out these 15 romantic getaways to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Create a vision for your future together
Business and mentoring coach Stephanie Smolders and her partner of four years, Peter Beukering, see Valentine’s Day as a way to reflect on their past and dream about what is sure to come. “We look at the memories we made and talk about our future together. We write down a list of goals or intentions for the rest of the year,” Stephanie explains. “It is like creating a mini bucket list, and it gets us excited about the next steps in our lives. Peter is really good at drawing and I’m good at writing, so we create a moodboard of our vision and hang it in our bedroom to feel those cozy feelings again.” Here are 11 communication rules every couple should follow in their relationship.
Check a place off your bucket list
Travel and food blogger JB Macatulad and his partner of 16 years, Renée Cantos-Macatulad, are always jet-setting. He estimates that they travel at least five to 10 times a year, and nearly every V-Day, they find themselves in a foreign country. He says it makes it extra special because they are both celebrating something new. “A couple of years ago, we spent Valentine’s Day in Kurokawa Onsen, a charming onsen town nestled in the mountains of Kumamoto, Japan,” he shares. (An onsen, by the way, is a Japanese hot spring.) “We both had our first onsen experience on that trip and fell in love with the experience. In fact, we’ll be doing it again this year.” Need some travel inspiration? Pick from these 18 one-of-a-kind, bucket-list adventures.
Alternate who plans Valentine’s Day
Planning a holiday celebration that comes with a mountain-high list of expectations (most of them unrealistic) can put a lot of pressure on one half of the couple. That’s why Lia and Jeremy Garcia decided to alternate the work every year. Though they’ve been together for six years, they’re still going strong with surprises and fun adventures. “At the beginning of our relationship, this inspired a lot of creativity, because we are each incredibly competitive,” says Lia. “For several years, our goal was to one-up the previous year’s plans. And like, not to brag, but Jeremy has yet to top my ridiculously amazing multi-city scavenger hunt.”