Celebrating Valentine’s Day has become something of a conundrum over the years. A lot of the problem is the over commercialization of the holiday; it seems like every restaurant has an overpriced fixed menu and flowers and chocolates are marked up beyond reason. It just isn’t fun anymore. Plus, if you’ve been with your significant other for a long time, all of these ideas start to feel stale, like you’re just going through the motions. 

But when you think about it, it is important to find the time to celebrate your love, especially if you’ve been together forever. Valentine’s Day is a convenient reminder every year that we should try to show our appreciation for each other. It’s also the perfect excuse to go the extra mile in terms of romance. This year, instead of scoffing at celebrating such a Hallmarked-out occasion, why not do Valentine’s Day a little differently? Here are some ideas:

Take a Class Together

Learning something new as a couple is downright refreshing, and there are a ton of options available in person or online. 

    • Mixology classes are a big trend right now, where bartenders walk you through the finer details of creating classic cocktails or themed beverages. Many mixology classes are organized around a certain liquor or type of drink, so you can make sure you’ll enjoy sipping on whatever you create. Doing these in person is a ton of fun (it leads to some entertaining interactions between guests and instructors) but there are remote options as well, ranging from taking a Masterclass course online to ordering a kit and following printed instructions. (Or, you could have the best of both worlds and invite some other couples over to take the class with you.)
    • Cooking classes are a great way to enjoy a dinner out without having to fight your way through the usual Valentine’s Day crowds. You could try a new cuisine entirely, learn a new skill or merely hone your repertoire. La Centralita is a local favorite, offering a fantastic, intimate dining experience in the Basque tradition, but there are a slew of other great options like the Gio Culinary Studio in Voorheesville, or Capital Cooks in Colonie. And, if going out isn’t your cup of tea, there are online cooking classes as well, such as the ones from Sur La Table or The Chef and The Dish.
  • Dancing lessons are a surefire way to reinvigorate a relationship, and you get some exercise as a bonus. Albany Dance and Fitness offers a surprisingly wide array of dance styles and class settings for all fitness levels, as does the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. You could also up the romance by doing any number of online dance classes in your own living room, and really set the mood.

Use Your Imagination

Getting creative as a couple can help you learn something new about your significant other, build a sense of camaraderie, and usually have some laughs.

  • Escape Rooms are really fun and don’t require a whole lot of romance. That said, they help build teamwork skills and force you to problem-solve as a couple, which can bring you closer (or maybe cause a little healthy tension). There are several options in the Albany area, which you can find at All In Adventures and World of Escapes, so you can choose a theme you’ll both enjoy.
  • Solving a Murder Mystery by mail is a growing trend and could be a fantastic date option. You could participate as a couple or do a whole dress-up evening with friends; either way it will be a good time! Typically, the way it works is you are sent a box containing clues and other evidence, a list of suspects, a case to solve and probably a few red herrings. Some kits require the use of the internet to solve the crimes and others don’t (but be sure you know ahead of time what you’re getting into). Additionally, be aware that some kits are stand-alone purchases and others are subscription-based.
    • Get Crafty: If you’re a little more low-key, a sweet Valentine’s Day could be spent putting together a puzzle or craft. Some couples build Lego together, or enjoy DIY-ing a home project. Or you could sign up for one of the many art/craft classes like Painting With a Twist or Canvas, Corks & Forks, at which all the art supplies and drinks are provided for maximum convenience (and fun). A new trend going around social media strikes us as another fun, artsy idea: Set up a canvas and paints at home and attempt to paint your partner’s portrait. You’ll either end up with a masterpiece or a really good laugh.
  • Dream Together: Sometimes it’s just as fun to make plans as it is to execute them. You could make a Date Jar by brainstorming different date ideas and writing them on slips of paper to draw out of the jar throughout the year. Researching new places to go and see and experience can be enlightening, and it’ll help you avoid the “what would you like to do?” debate later on. Alternatively, you could dream up a Couple’s Bucket List. Share places you’ve always wanted to see together or adventures you’d love to try, and start down the path of making these things come true.

Treat Yourself

    • For maximum romance, you could try to Re-Create a Memorable Date. Maybe you need a do-over for your disastrous first date, or you just want to revisit a sentimental spot. All you need for this Valentine’s Day idea is a memorable date you two shared and a sense of nostalgia. You could go the extra mile and dress up like you did before, or order the same food, or merely retrace your steps from that time and revel in your glory days.
  • Couples Spa Day doesn’t even really need an explanation. Go ahead and splurge: Get a couples massage, or indulge in some solo pampering in preparation for an evening on the town.
  • Play Tourist: Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to finally visit a museum, botanical garden or theater. We often forget to partake in some of the loveliest things in our own towns, just because they’re always there. (Here are some ideas for Albany, if you need some suggestions.)
  • Have a “Yes” Day. If you’re the type of person who loves giving gifts more than receiving them, a “Yes Day” for your special person would be incredibly fulfilling. The premise is simple: say “yes” to doing whatever your partner wants. They want to go to a craft store and buy all the yarn? Yes. Visit the animal shelter to play with cats? Yes. Try that new restaurant? Certainly. Wander the mall aimlessly, just to get out of the house? You betcha. It can be really fun watching their face light up, and you never know where the day will take you.

Hurkle-durkle. Allow us to introduce you to our new favorite phrase: hurkle-durkle. It’s a Scottish term that goes back to the early 1800s, and refers to the act of lounging in bed past the point when it’s time to get up. Why not spend Valentine’s Day hurkle-durkling with your loved one, watching TV, reading a book or generally just lazing around. It’s a lovely way to make a slow start to the day.