Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and it's a holiday that comes with a great deal of pressure for those in a relationship. According to the National Retail Federation, people who celebrate the day of love will shell out an average of $146.84 this year (which is up slightly from last year).
While flowers, chocolate and a romantic dinner tend to be the go-to, there's convincing evidence to do things a little differently this year. Pricey menus, crowded venues and overworked staff make Valentine's Day the worst day to head out for a romantic dinner, experts say.
Instead of braving the crowds for one-on-one time together, get a little more creative with activities that will actually bring you closer (sans the stress). How? One quarter of people plan to gift "experiences" this year and almost half of people say they would love to receive this type of gift.
“The best gifts are thoughtful, and even better are experiential gifts that deepen and expand your love. Regardless of how many years (or mere months) that you’ve been together, sharing an experience will make you two closer and more connected,” says relationship expert and dating coach Laurel House.
Indeed, couples who schedule date nights around new and novel activities are more likely to report happiness, bringing to mind the old adage: couples who play together stay together.
So forgo the dinner spent bumping elbows with the couple next to you and instead pick a present the two of you are guaranteed to enjoy together. Here, the 11 best gifts for your valentine.
A hybrid of The Secret and a positive Cards Against Humanity, Serenflipity takes you out of your comfort zone with fun adventure cards. Simply pick a card and then follow instructions — such as asking a stranger for a mantra, surrendering yourself to the chef’s whims at a restaurant, or lasting an entire day without spending any money — taking as long as you need to complete each task. It also features a texting service that will send you fresh, challenging ideas, to ensure you’re always on your toes.
An interactive hardcover journal designed to help you express your love and foster a connection, this journal features writing prompts like detailing things you admire about your partner, and ways you make each other better people. Beautifully designed, there are also pages to reflect on bucket lists, anniversaries, hardships endured and favorite things.
There’s a time for extravagant, dressed-up dinner dates … and then there are those times when you just want to zone out together and relax. Forgo the TV and enjoy a quiet night-in this Valentine's Day with the Knack Bathtub date night box, featuring everything you need for a sensual soak together: Eyrie Vineyards Chardonnay, AYDRY & Co. Rose Geranium Hand and Body Wash, and a Prosperity Candle "Peace" soy wax candle.
Price: $99 for a 60-minute massage
Is there anything as romantic and relaxing as a couple's massage? Unfortunately, the hassle of getting to the spa and the hefty price tag deter a lot of couples from indulging. Enter: Zeel. The app (or desktop version) allows you to choose from five different types of massages and book a masseuse (in as little notice as one hour) to arrive at your doorstep, table in hand. The service is currently available in over 85 cities and is especially smart to have on hand if you're someone who tends to forget the holiday (and are left choosing between the picked-over roses at the corner deli).
Studies show that art therapy such as adult coloring books can help ease anxiety and increase mindfulness. De-stress together by working in-tandem on a funny adult coloring book like #Married Life. Designed for all color mediums — including pencils, paint and watercolor — the book is both satisfying to color and side-splittingly hilarious to read.
Price: Starting at $50
It’s easy to get stuck in a relationship rut. Shake things up by surprising your partner with an exciting activity from Cloud 9 Living: think a Champagne brunch sail, a helicopter tour, Ferrari racing, a hot air balloon ride or a trapeze lesson. Simply choose your city — Cloud 9 Living offers 2000+ experiences in more than 30 states — and then choose between categories like adventure, spa, driving, nautical and more.
Price: Starting at $25
Of course, planning that fun night out is a little more difficult when you have little ones at home. But as a parent, constantly prioritizing your kids’ needs can easily lead to burnout (and keep your relationship on the back burner). Take the hassle out of arranging childcare by gifting your partner an Urban Sitter gift card, available in any denomination. Users can choose from a wide variety of sitters, with the ability to search for options including sitters with background checks, drivers licenses, CPR training and experience with multiples or infants.
Price: $36 - $60
Art is known for its healing and therapeutic properties, and research shows that doing new and exciting things as a couple makes your relationship more satisfying. We can’t think of a better way to do “new and exciting" then by making one-of-a-kind art at home, with your bodies. This unique DIY kit includes a black or white cotton canvas plus a combination of colored paint to choose from, as well as plastic sheeting, disposable slippers and a body scrubber. May we suggest the bathtub date box for a little post-art clean up?
Price: Any amount
Couples who sweat together stay together. Stay fit in-tandem with a gift card from ClassPass, allowing flexible memberships to fitness classes you can easily book through the ClassPass app. Featuring hundreds of studios, activities and gyms in 39 cities — everything from spinning to boxing to yoga to barre — there’s something bound to pique your mutual interest. Users can also stream workout videos online, with the option to select videos based on length, fitness level, and workout type, so you can squeeze in a class together at home.
Price: $49.00 - 65.00
Another way to throw some novelty into your date-night routine: Turn your home kitchen into a Michelin-level experience with this Molecular Gastronomy kit, featuring tools, food additives, utensils and a recipe DVD to help you and your honey create a mad science meal-to-remember. Cooking together can foster communication, so be prepared for serious bonding as you play with your food.
Price: Starting at $15 per bottle
Add a touch of personality to your vino with customized wine labels from Custom Wine Source. Get creative by personalizing bottles for specific date nights or with reasons why you love your significant other by choosing a wine from one of their winery partners and creating a label online with your own text and meaningful photos. Personalized wine will arrive directly on your doorstep. Cheers!