Rethinking Romance

Some fun new ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day, quarantine-style.

This Valentine’s Day is definitely going to be different than any other one that came before it. No restaurants packed with cozy couples. No theater dates or movie nights. No browsing the mall for gifts—alongside everyone else who’s out looking to show their love with a bauble in a box.

But instead of feeling bummed, why not get inspired and rise to the challenge? There are so many ways to say “Be My Valentine” without putting your health or theirs at risk. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing…

Whether it’s at home or in a public space with plenty of room to social-distance, hardly anything is more romantic than a picnic. You could get take-out, or surprise your Valentine with a beautiful homemade spread. It’s the perfect time to try your hand at making food that tastes as good as it looks. Maybe a charcuterie board filled with all of your favorite goodies? Or make the picnic prep a part of the date and craft a board or a basket of goodies together.

I know, at first glance, painting a room or building a fence might not seem like the most romantic Valentine’s Day activity. But tackling a project with your special person can be super-romantic when you work to complete something together. You can compare your skill sets and teach one another, or you can both try your hand at something totally new. Achieving something together is always a great way to grow closer.

This is not the time to think small. Team up and take on a cooking challenge that you would never try on your own. Think homemade dumplings or pasta. Maybe a cake enrobed in fondant, or get really crazy and make a croquembouche. Don’t worry about the results—this is about having fun and trying something new with your love. (You can always call for take-out if you end up with nothing but a messy kitchen and some fun memories!)

The story or poem you choose can be anything, really. Something funny or sad, new or old. The only requirement is that you take turns reading to one another. There’s something so intimate and comforting about reading to someone, and being read to. You can even surprise one another with readings that you each pick out. And who knows? You just might find it’s something you’ll want to keep doing long after Valentine’s Day.

Head over to the Houston Zoo’s outdoor exhibits, wearing a mask and staying socially distant from others. Make faces at the monkeys. Talk to the birds. Giggle at the hippos, run with the rhinos, and hop with the kangaroos. In other words, take a deep breath and give in to the silly, romantic side that we all have hidden somewhere inside. There’s something about all of that giddiness that can lead to all kinds of romance.

It doesn’t matter if you like crafts or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re good at them or not. All that matters is your intentions. If you intend to have fun while making something sweet for your sweetheart, that’s all that matters. And the best part of all? No need to buy an expensive gift. You can make one another something truly heartfelt. Even if it looks crazy, nothing on earth is more romantic.

Take a walk. Ride your bike. Kick the soccer ball around. Whatever gets your heart rate up will also get your endorphins pumping. That feel-good feeling will also make you feel even better about your Valentine. Pick an activity you’re both great at, or try something new to both of you. Or maybe take turns teaching each other something new. Who knows, you just might have some surprising basketball skills or  hula hooping talent. The activity doesn’t matter, as long as you’re sweating together.

Challenge your partner to a Scrabble duel, a Rummikub battle, or a Monopoly match. To level the playing field, take turns choosing what to play. (This isn’t supposed to be like that time at summer camp where the kid who didn’t capture the flag has never gotten over the shame.) So be a good sport, and remember that playing games is always supposed to be fun!


Jenny Block

Jenny Block is a frequent contributor to a number of high-profile publications from New York Times to Huffington Post to Playboy and is the author of four books, including “Be That Unicorn: Find your Magic. Live your Truth. Share your Shine." She has appeared on a variety of television and radio programs from Nightline to BBC Radio to Great Day Houston and has performed and spoken at bookstores, events, conferences, and resorts in the US and Mexico, as well as on Holland America Cruise ships.
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