It’s hard not to love a holiday that celebrates, well, love. / David Baratz / USA WEEKEND
Go low-key with your sweetie: Drop in at the bowling alley. / ZEDCOR, GETTY IMAGES
For a Valentine's treat with friends: Shoe shopping! / LUKAS GOJDA, GETTY IMAGES
Romantic dinner: Pick a menu you've never made and cook it together.
Sure, Feb. 14 has its commercial side. But it’s hard not to love a holiday that celebrates, well, love. And you don’t have to be in a moony-eyed relationship to enjoy it, either. Here, some ideas that will make you truly XOXO Valentine’s Day.
If you’ll be with your sweetie
1. Have dinner and a movie in. For some flair, toss conversation hearts in a bowl of popcorn, says Sara Perry, author of Valentine Treats: Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family.
2. Go low-key. Drop in at the pub that has amazing burgers, or the bowling alley. You’ll have the place to yourselves — inherently romantic!
3. Serve the bubbly on a customized “tray.” Make a collage of photos to put inside a large picture frame. It can ferry your cocktails now and be hung on the wall later, Perry says.
4. Pick a menu you’ve never made and cook it together. Hey, it’s no coincidence so many films feature steamy kitchen scenes (Big Night, Chocolat, No Reservations).
5. Buy a recordable card and put your wedding song — or any meaningful tune — on it.
6. Make your honey personalized ice cream. Stir pieces of his fave treats into softened ice cream. Give it a fun label (Charlie’s Chocolate Factory Surprise!).
7. Tell your romantic story. Sites like blurb.com help you create a book by uploading photos, adding text and binding the book in a coffee-table-worthy way.
If you’ll be with the kiddies
8. Give a kid you love a “bouquet” of lollipops tied with a big red bow.
9. Make a sweet morning menu. Serve cranberry “champagne” (juice and fizzy seltzer) and heart-shaped pancakes. (A cookie cutter will do the trick!)
10. Have a scavenger hunt. Hide chocolates and give your kiddos a list of “clues” to where they might be found.
11. Fancy-up family dinner. Dress as if you were dining at the best joint in town. The kids will get a kick out of seeing you in suit-and-sequins attire.
12. Spread the love. Ask everybody to share one thing they love most about each family member. (Even pesky little sisters or brothers!)
13. Have a mush-averse teen? Make a special Valentine’s playlist (check iTunes for song suggestions) and load it onto his iPod.
If you’ll be with friends
14. Start an annual brunch tradition. What’s not to love about Bloodies and eggs Benedict with your best friends?
15. Throw a fondue party. Cheese for dinner and chocolate for dessert. Dunk brownies, apricots, marshmallows and graham crackers.
16. Skype loved ones. Call up your mom, sister, best friend, favorite uncle. There’s nothing like seeing an adoring face.
17. Go potluck, Top Chef style. Assign V-Day ingredients to guests and have them bring their best dish. Vote on a winner!
18. Invite singles for whine and cheese. As in: Good wine, yummy appetizers and major laughs over past loves.
19. Two words: Shoeshopping.
If you’ll be with just your lovely self!
20. Bake chocolate chip cookies, package them with red ribbons, and give them to people you appreciate — neighbors, your barista, the lady at the dry cleaners. “You’ll be amazed at how touched people are by this small gesture. That has a way of making you feel incredible,” Perry says.
21. Help your heart. Take a fitness class — then enjoy a heart-healthy meal, such as seared salmon with a glass of red wine.
22. Indulge in non-romance. Take in an action flick. Make your ultimate comfort food — say, mac-and-cheese. Bypass the lingerie drawer and pull on your favorite flannel jammies and spend the evening in bed with a book and glass of wine. Heaven.
23. Sign up for a class: Cooking, pottery, skiing! Good experiences are among the best gifts you can give yourself.