Arnold’s Guide to Creating "Love Bug" Moments at Home
A handful of holidays require pulling out all the stops — elaborate menus, fabulous tablescapes, special gifts and wearing your good suit. And though I normally encourage playing with your food and exploring new culinary adventures, sometimes during these special times, like Valentine's Day, a few practical tips and help from outside sources can calm the nerves, relieve the pressure, and allow you to stop and smell the roses.
I’m not trying to keep you from busting out the souffle pan, roasting rack and Chateau Lafite. If you are an ambitious domestic diva who enjoys the thrill of a party-hosting challenge, by all means, go for broke. But if not, it’s totally OK. Working within your technical and financial means with a few subtle personal touches will do the trick, especially on this heart-filled day. Here are a few creative and approachable Valentine’s Day ideas that are sure to spark a romantic “love bug” moment.
Instead of making reservations for that hot new restaurant with a waiting list for months, stay home and create a unique romantic environment of your own. Decorate with things you already have, and consider using spaces outside of the traditional. Grab some blankets and throw a bunch of pillows on your living room floor. Mute an old black-and-white movie on the television. Dim the lights. Serve food on a tray. Play your favorite mood music. You’ve created a memorable picnic just for two.
Formal menus can be labor-intensive, time-consuming and way too fussy. And though sitting in the dining room gazing across a long table with candlelight and flowers has a definite charm, an intimate meal of familiar food relaxes the mood and suggests physical contact (hint, hint). Consider casual items like cheese and charcuterie, an elegant platter of dips and spreads, exotic Asian lettuce wraps or even a build-it-together banana split bar. Familiar items like these allow you to focus on each other and not on how to prepare or eat your fancy meal. It’s also adorably flirty and suggestive to use your hands together, potentially feeding each other sensual bites of love.
Curated craft cocktails are not only trendy, but also efficient when it comes to home entertaining. By batching a larger quantity of a signature beverage, you allow yourself to spend more time enjoying the libation as opposed to dealing with a variety of prepping, mixing and cleaning at your bar. For Valentine’s Day, something light and bubbly is festive and romantic. Of course, champagne is always quite chic, but if your budget is a bit more humble, a subtle variation on a sparkling wine spritzer is just as sexy. Start the evening by wetting the lips with this tasty creation; as the night progresses, finish off the meal with a piece of chocolate, and watch the meal and the evening have a passionate ending!
Lightly smash raspberries with vanilla extract in a pitcher. Add ginger ale and sparkling wine. Lightly stir, and keep cold until ready to serve. Pour into champagne flutes and serve with chocolate candy.
Whether this is your first week together or you have celebrated your golden anniversary, there is always a little pressure on Valentine’s Day to make your loved one feel extra warm and fuzzy. Remember, holidays are a time to celebrate. All that really matters is that you and your partner are enjoying each other’s company and creating a memory — hopefully a tasty one.