Valentine’s Day, the designated day of romantic love, is just around the corner. During a conversation a few years ago, a friend asked me how I met my husband. My answer sparked a conversation about how romantic couples are. It covered moments, adventures, and events from the first date to babymoons. I recently revisited the question and started a conversation with others, who happened to have had whirlwind romances. It became apparent that experiences are cherished more than tangible gifts. Below is a sampling of answers.
- First date – Blind date set up by a mutual friend who thought they had a lot in common. Went out for drinks after work.
- Proposal – Dinner in their favorite tiny Italian restaurant in NYC. He got down on one knee to propose, and they all applauded.
- Wedding – Got married in the church built by her grandfather and great-uncle, where her grandparents, parents, and family members have been married. Birds randomly started chirping at the end of the ceremony.
- Honeymoon – Went to Athens, Paros, Mykonos, and Santorini, Greece, then Istanbul, Turkey.
- Big Anniversary – Climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
- First date – Independence Day fireworks in NYC.
- Proposal – Popped the question in Montmartre, Paris. They continued on to Amsterdam, Munich, Cologne, and Zurich.
- Wedding – Rented staffed villas on Jamaica for the weekend. Got married at the Half Moon Club’s gazebo on the Caribbean.
- Honeymoon – Went to Maui, Kauai, the Big Island, and Oahu, Hawaii.
- Second Honeymoon – Took a two-week cruise down the Nile from Cairo to Aswan.
- Babymoon – Went to Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore in Italy.
- First date – Brooklyn landmark Gage and Tollner, which had 36 gas lamps.
- Proposal – Rented a staffed villa in Barbados with her family. Her brother videotaped his speech, which ended with the proposal.
- Wedding – Big traditional wedding in New Jersey.
- Honeymoon – Southern Caribbean Cruise to St. Lucia, St. Thomas, Barbados, Puerto Rico and other ports.
- Big Anniversary – Surprised his wife (and kids), by telling them all to pack their bags, then took them to the airport. They flew to Barbados, and returned to the villa where they got engaged to celebrate their 10th anniversary.
Creativity, spontaneity, and nostalgia are a few key elements to romance. Often it’s not what you GIVE, but what you DO that shows how romantic you are. Instead of giving “stuff”, give an experience. As you have noticed above, the memories are about going somewhere. If you’re looking for a gift idea, consider an idea from below.
- Plan a unique surprise escape – Skytop Lodge overnight followed by a dog sled tour, or Mohonk Mountain House with ice skating or snowshoeing
- Go to Atlantic City (click here to read more)
- Find a last-minute getaway (Florida or the Caribbean)
- Surprise overnight stay with breakfast at Nassau Inn, The Peacock Inn, or Inn at Glencairn
- Sleep in, go to brunch (elements, Mediterra, Mistral, Peacock Inn, Teresa’s ), then head to the Adventure Aquarium, Duke Farms Orchid Range, or Longwood Gardens
- Hot Air Balloon Ride (yes, even in winter)
- Day in NYC – Brunch, walk through Central Park, and Broadway matinée
- Give tickets to a rock/pop concert (Adele, Coldplay, etc.)
- Reserve a class for two at Pinot’s Palette – Princeton, and bring your favorite bottle of wine
On the Cheap
- Make a favorite meal
- Give a massage
- Make a video or slideshow marking your time together adding your favorite “couple playlist”
- Create a treasure hunt
- Make brunch at home and go to Princeton University Art Museum
- Eat take-out at home and watch a movie On-Demand
- Invite couples over for dessert
- Reserve a museum pass from Princeton Public Library
- Watch a movie at Princeton Garden Theatre
Many of the restaurants have a Valentine’s menu, both for dinner and brunch. Some of the specials run from Friday, February 12 – Monday, February 15. While it’s not a Valentine’s special menu, Peacock Inn has a month-long 3-course menu priced at $49. For those looking for fine dining “on the cheap” as a way to celebrate, consider going there on Thursday the 11th or Tuesday the 16th.
If you do buy a gift, plan something unique to do so that you will make the day even more memorable.