Date night

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY - By AMY LEIBROCK

Ideas for par­ents to en­joy a Valen­tine’s Day cel­e­bra­tion that is big on heart but low in cost.

VALEN­TINE’S Day is al­most here. Have you made your res­tau­rant reser­va­tion, made heart-shaped treats for the kids, bought a ro­man­tic gift for your honey, picked out a sexy out­fit, and booked a sit­ter? Whew ... and all this for what? To end the night at a crowded res­tau­rant where they hike up the prices in the name of ro­mance?

If your typ­i­cal Valen­tine’s Day plans lead to over­spend­ing and dis­ap­point­ment, keep read­ing be­fore you throw in the towel com­pletely. Par­ents these days need to use ev­ery ex­cuse they can find to carve out a lit­tle cou­ple time. So keep the sit­ter, ditch the din­ner reser­va­tion, and try one of these fun ideas that won’t break the bank.

> 1. Skip din­ner. Well, you can still eat din­ner, but save money by mak­ing a meal at home and go­ing out just for dessert. Even if you choose the best res­tau­rant in town, chances will be greater that you can score a reser­va­tion later in the evening. Or just savour your sweets with your sweetie at the bar.

> 2. Play hooky from work. Valen­tine’s Day is on a Tues­day this year. If you al­ready have a nanny for the kids while you’re at work, take the day off – or even just the af­ter­noon – and spend it re­liv­ing your care­free, pre-par­ent days with your part­ner. Linger at a cof­fee shop, visit a free mu­seum, or take in a ro­man­tic com­edy – hold­ing hands, of course. Or check out that fancy res­tau­rant’s cheaper lunchtime menu.

> 3. Dance in the liv­ing room. Make a mix of songs from the mile­stone years in your re­la­tion­ship: when you met, got en­gaged, tied the knot, etc. Once the kids are snooz- ing, pop open some wine and pop in the mix. Take it up a notch by dress­ing up like you’re go­ing out danc­ing.

> 4. Go low-tech. Some­times some­thing as sim­ple as turn­ing off tech­nol­ogy can help you tune in to your re­la­tion­ship. Once the kids are in bed, light some can­dles or start a fire and play a board game, cook to­gether or just talk. No phones, no TV, no com­puter – just you and your honey.

> 5. Take a walk. Whether it’s a na­ture trail or cute part of town, hold hands (or link arms) and go for a stroll. Talk about your past year’s high­lights and your fun ideas for the year ahead. Rem­i­nisce about your first Valen­tine’s Day to­gether and how far you’ve come. Warm up with a drink at a bar or a cup of tea or cof­fee at home – and a kiss.

> 6. Write a love poem. This is an es­pe­cially great idea if you don’t con­sider your­self a writer, be­cause your part­ner won’t ex­pect it. For help, check out this step-by-step poem tu­to­rial from Wik­i­how. Write from your heart and your part­ner will love it, even if the poem ends up more silly than se­ri­ous.

If you’d rather leave the com­pos­ing to the pros, here’s a sweet idea from Sherry A. Sims, a US na­tional breast can­cer ad­vo­cate in Tulsa, Ok­la­homa: “On Valen­tine’s Day when money was tight, my hus­band and I would meet in the greet­ing card depart­ment of our lo­cal gro­cery store.

Af­ter read­ing var­i­ous Valen­tine’s Day cards, we’d ‘give’ the ones we liked best to each other,” she says. “This ac­tiv­ity gave us the abil­ity to ex­press our deep­est feel­ings for one an­other – with­out spend­ing a dime. Plus, it gave us a way to com­mu­ni­cate dur­ing a dif­fi­cult time – with-with­out ever say­ing a word.”

> 7. Recre­ate your first date. Whether it was roller skat­ing, tak­ing your dogs for a walk, or go­ing to din­ner and a movie, go on a retro date. Or rent that movie and cook what you both ate. The nostal­gia will be worth it. – Care.com/ Mc­clatchy-tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

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