How to Spend Valentine's Day in 2021

Valentine’s Day is coming up fast. Here are some pandemic-proof date ideas as well as gift guide for what to get the special someones in your life.

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Ahhh, February. The wind howling after you like dogs after a mail carrier; the frost creeping up your windows; the Christmas displays wrapped up till the end of the year. The cruelty of winter is most clearly felt at this time. But what’s this? There’s romance aflutter, and the opportunity to treat someone in your life.

Obviously we’re all still living through the pandemic; vaccine rollout has been slow, depending on where you live, and there won’t be true normal until long after February 14th passes. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in a special way with our special someones. In fact, 2021 is the perfect year to go all-out in the ways that you can; it’s a perfect holiday to create low-stakes change of pace around the apartment, house, condo, wherever you find yourself.

And Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples now. Let’s make it a holiday to celebrate each other and everyone: our friends, family, and loved ones. Here are some fun ways to celebrate safely, and a handy little gift guide at the end too.

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There are some fairly touristy things we all never see or do, right in our very own backyard. Maybe you avoid a certain area, or visiting a building, because it’s generally overrun with crowds. Well, don’t worry about it this year because there aren’t that many tourists anyway.

Remember that this year Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday. Plus President’s Day is the next day, all of which adds up to three-day weekend, if you're lucky. There’s nothing more patriotic than relaxing (and wearing a mask if you do go out) in this hectic time. Make it a true staycation and get your loved ones, and yourself, a mega-box of chocolate, some vivacious vino, and soak in the tub for the whole day.

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Cook a (Romantic) Dinner

Some friends of mine recently told me “Valentine’s is the worst day to go to dinner…and to buy roses.” I would say that’s pretty sound logic. So skip the take-out and cook a romantic meal or a recipe you’ve never tried. If cooking’s not your bowl of spaghetti, make your own Valentine’s Day, but make it February 15th, or February 13th, and choose those days to order delivery. A reminder: Restaurants need our support right now so always try to order local.

If you don’t want to cook at all, but have been eating out a lot recently, split the difference and buy a bunch of frozen tater tots (dubbed "the perfect quarantine food" by Eater Magazine). Though tots may already be featured in your Super Bowl Sunday plan. Oh well, nothing wrong with tater tots twice!

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Movie Marathon

I obviously have a bias for this one. I’ve written about movies before on this blog and I think it would be hard to beat a day-long marathon of rom-coms: go old school to start with screwball comedies (It Happened One Night & The Awful Truth) then slowly migrate your way through the cinematic decades, hitting all the sweet spots: The Apartment (1960), What's Up, Doc? (1972), When Harry Met Sally (1989), The Big Sick (2017), Love, Simon (2018), and Sylvie’s Love (2020). Or, skip all the mushiness and binge some horror movies instead.

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Spend the Night Listening To (Or Playing) Music

Love, or its absence, is just about the subject of every song that’s ever been recorded: love for other people, love for ourselves, even love for inanimate objects. So why not turn up the volume and make a whole night of music? Set up a little stage for your roommates, romance-mates, and yourself, and perform makeshift karaoke until dawn.

If you have instruments on hand, and some casual musicianship, then it’s even more of a win. Serenade your loved ones (if you’ve got the vocal chops to pull it off) and dance away the anxiety of another pandemic week.

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And Now… A Small Valentine’s Gift Guide

Skip the Flowers

To reiterate what my friends said earlier, red roses are so oft purchased around this time you’d think the world would run out of the scarlet buds. Instead buy something more practical, but not in a ‘I bought us some new laundry detergent’ way; practical as in half a dozen slow-burning, heavenly scented candles. Here are some lists from New York Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and Oprah Magazine on stellar scented candles to radiantly refresh, brilliantly brighten, and sultrily soothe you and your day.

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Go Luxe on Loungewear

We’ve all been spending a lot of time in sweats. Your loved ones and yourself may be tired of it; or maybe you just need to change from your classic, worn-out joggers and leggings into luxurious pajamas. If there’s any day to be spent basking in svelte silks and kingly cashmere knits then it’s certainly Valentine’s Day. Here are lists from New York's Strategist, Glamour, Vogue, and Esquire for the gents.

Bonus: Then you have sweet fancy pajamas for any future fancy pajama parties you attend (I feel like that’s actually way more common than it sounds, or at least it should be).

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Wine's Fine, But Go Bigger on the Booze

We all associate wine and champagne with Valentine’s Day, but 2021 calls for something a little stronger. For the folks in your life that like to kick back at the end of the week with a whiskey on the rocks, or appreciate a refreshing gin & tonic, even in the depths of winter, splurge with a more expensive bottle.

And for the teetotalers out there, just simply pick a different vice: sugar. Chocolate remains the gift-to-beat every year at this time. The trick is really knowing the person to whom you’re gift-giving: are they a peanut-butter cups fiend? An all out m&m’s freak? A fancy bar of chocolate fan? Use your best judgment.

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Wrappin' It Up

More so than candles, loungewear, and cocktails, give your Valentine, whether they’re a roommate or romance-mate, the ultimate kind of gift: something personal: a framed photo with a from-the-heart letter; a book signed by their favorite author; a cameo (plus maybe something else) featuring a favorite celebrity. By making it personal, you invite the ones you care about into a shared, intimate space. And that’s really what Valentine’s Day is all about.

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