People get passionate on Valentine's Day—long before the evening winds down and, if all goes well, the clothes come off. Some love the day, reveling in and dispensing as much heart-shaped, gooey sentiment as they can fit into 24 hours. Others view it as an unnecessarily pressure-ridden faux-holiday and would rather hide under the covers until the clock strikes midnight and it's officially February 15th. If you're like us, you buy into the idea that it might be nice to do something special with your significant other, but you'd rather not go through the motions and trot out the same tired tricks. So this year, try one of our alternative ideas that'll make you look inspired—and also happen to be very easy to pull off.
The Cliché: Dinner at a romantic restaurant
The Alternative: Cook for your mate, you lazy bastard
The Details: You don't have to be a genius in the kitchen to knock the socks (and other items of clothing) off your lover. In fact, it's best to avoid any complicated preparations that will unduly stress you out. In other words, keep it simple. Hell, boil some water and make pasta. Pair that with a bottle of wine, candles, and some music (preferably what your partner would like), and you've got a setting infinitely more romantic than any restaurant crammed with lovey-dovey couples paying through the nose for a V-Day prix fixe. If all goes well, you may find yourselves having dessert in the bedroom.
The Cliché: A Hallmark card
The Alternative: An onslaught of sticky notes
The Details: Save the card for Mom. The key to the sticky-note scheme is saturation: the more, the better. Put them everywhere you can think of: on the bathroom mirror, on the computer monitor, on a milk carton. When your mate opens his/her wallet at lunch, for example, and sees a note that says "I love to kiss your lips," that's guaranteed to put you over the top on the romantic meter.
The Cliché: A box of chocolates
The Alternative: An unexpected aphrodisiac
The Details: There's nothing wrong with chocolate, but have you tried figs? They've been associated with sexual desire since ancient Greek and Roman times and are alleged to have been one of the favorite foods of the temptress Cleopatra. Another sexy and sweet (and sticky) treat is honey, a.k.a. the nectar of Aphrodite, Goddess of Love (and, incidentally, the lady who aphrodisiacs were named after). On the opposite end of the palate, try dishing up some oysters. The 18th-century Italian lover Casanova was a proponent of the oyster as a sexual aide of sorts (he supposedly ate dozens of them for breakfast), and science has since confirmed that the bivalves really do pump up the libido.
The Cliché: A romantic stroll
The Alternative: A romantic adventure
The Details: The variations are endless. Your options include the skinny dip (the beach works if you don't have a pool), the secluded hike (bring bug spray and a flask filled with hot chocolate or booze, or boozy hot chocolate), the rooftop stargazing journey, or the literary pub crawl (identify spots in advance where writers once lived and drank). One word of advice: Bring a flashlight so you don't get really lost—which is not the sort of adventure you're going for.
The Cliché: A romantic movie
The Alternative: A burlesque show
The Details: Chick flicks are tame. VD (that's Valentine's Day) is time to get dirty. What's more, venues across the country are hosting special V-Day shows. So whether you're in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, or Chicago, you can get your fill of va-va-voom girls in pasties and double entendre-spouting hosts. (For a thorough listing of shows nationwide, visit the fantastic directory Burlesque Bitch.)
The Cliché: A dozen red roses
The Alternative: A 12-song playlist
The Details: In days past, giving someone a mixtape was a heartfelt gesture capable of transmitting a variety of messages too difficult to put into words. Today, cassette tapes are long gone and even CDs are looking like dinosaurs, but the mixtape lives on in the form of iTunes and Spotify playlists. Hopefully you've got your own ideas for songs that strike the right mood, but if you need a nudge, then check out Billboard's list of the 50 Sexiest Songs of All Time.
The Cliché: Champagne
The Alternative: Champagne cocktails
The Details: You want bubbly because it activates the salivary glands, awakens the taste buds, and looks cool in a glass. But a regular bottle of champagne, cava, or prosecco shows no imagination. Instead, try cocktails like the French 75, Chandon Brut Mojito, Blood Orange Champagne Cocktail, and of course the classic Champagne Cocktail. Even better if you sip from each other's navels.
Bonus: The Love Poem Generator App
Simply input your beloved's name and the app instantly crafts a poem from one of its 4,294,967,296 combinations of verse. Feel a line isn't living up to your standards? Tap it and it's replaced with an alternative. Naturally, you can share the poem via e-mail, but you can also play it aloud as read by the app's
slightly creepy sexy robotic voice.
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