1. Build a Fort
Going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day kind of stinks. Everyone and their brother is trying to get a table, the restaurant staff are all stressed out… why bother with that? Make an awesome fort/tent/teepee to cuddle up in and watch a movie together. Even if it’s just pushing the kitchen chairs together and throwing a blanket over the top, it’s fun, memorable, and romantic.
Smart devices have invaded our homes: at the dinner table, in the bedroom… they’re everywhere! Give your loved one your full attention by turning off your phone, tablet, and computer, and cook a meal using your grandma’s old cookbook, play a (nondigital) game, or take a walk around your neighborhood.
3. The Old Standby: Cards Candy
Make a Valentine card or get some chocolates. But don’t buy them from the drugstore — get creative! Personalize a candy tin by etching, stamp your own messages on candy hearts, make candy sushi, or whip up an LED Valentine card.
Warning: melting together Sweethearts to make a giant Sweetheart may not yield appealing results.
4. Purchase Tickets to an Event
So, you forgot to make Valentine’s Day plans. Or, you know going out on Valentine’s Day is madness, and you’d rather make plans on a non-holiday. Getting tickets to an event is an excellent Valentine’s Day gift! It gives the two of you something to look forward to and plan for. My friend Joy’s husband Kyle bought them tickets to see Bill Cosby for Christmas, and she thought it was a great gift! What does your loved one like? Soccer, chamber music, beach volleyball… MAKING! (SHAMELESS PLUG: If they love making or crafting, consider purchasing tickets to Maker Faire! Right now you can get the Early Bird special pricing for Maker Faire Bay Area.)
It’s really fun to collaborate with someone you love. Especially if the two of you have different skills! Here are 20 tips for making together, from Clare and Sean Carton:
1. You’re not going to get your way — with each other or the materials. But that’s OK. New ideas will come out of letting go.
2. There’s often a different solution. But it isn’t going to be found unless you both contribute. So listen.
3. Your life is a project you actively create. But your project? It’s just a project.
4. If you find yourself in a fight, walk away, and think about it. Then regroup.
5. Appreciate each other’s strengths, and compensate for each other’s weaknesses.
6. Find something entertaining to listen to while you work. It’ll give you something to talk about and distract you from any frustrations.
7. Carve out time to be together and work on your project, regardless of what the kid(s), dog(s), and cat(s) might demand.
8. Start with a shared vision, but be flexible about what that means.
9. Celebrate your victories, no matter how small.
10. Do it for yourselves. What others think doesn’t (and shouldn’t) matter.
11. When one of you is on a roll, get out of the way. What comes out of it will likely be amazing.
12. If you can, put the family to work. Kids make great pieceworkers! And they like being involved.
13. Share your skills. Teach your significant other what you know. Find joy in sharing your know-how.
14. Laugh. A lot. The perfection of the final project isn’t that important. What matters is that you’re spending some together.
15. If you’re tired, go to bed.
16. Accept chaos, but fight entropy. In other words, keep your space and your life as tidy as possible, but realize that life happens, and ultimately, nothing’s more important than your family and your life outside the project.
17. Trains are cool. Even if they’re mainly the domain of old guys who retired from steel mills and have too much time on their hands.
18. A good joint project is like good sex: the details don’t matter so much as how good you feel when it’s over.
19. Praise each other. A lot. Positive feedback keeps things moving.
20. Hanging out together is the best thing. So even if you don’t have a project in mind, just hang out. You can always improvise something.