A few years ago I posted a photo on Instagram and captioned it "give me experiences". Then I got a whole bunch of what does that even mean? questions. I used to be known for my random "deep" captions, but this one meant something. Forget the chocolates and the roses. Keep the necklaces and bracelets aside for now. Give me your hand to hold as we fly to visit new countries. Give me conversation. Give me your time. Give me experiences. Give me you. What it means is the older we get, the less we care for gifts. I realize the best things in life are memories and experiences. It is the simplest, yet most luxurious gift anyone could wrap up and offer me. On special days, like Valentine's Day, sometimes we want to do something different than Netflix and takeout —or an overpriced, prix-fixe dinner. A night of karaoke will make you happier than a new sound system, because experiences make us happier than material goods. I used to believe we were too young to celebrate Valentine's Day, but with school and work, sometimes we need to dedicate a day to enjoy time together, or even a cute card written just for you.
So with Valentine's Day approaching, here are some ideas to make the day (or upcoming weekend) unique and special. Spice things up and be spontaneous! (whether you're a couple or single showing yourself some self-love with your friends).
1. Go on a staycation
You don't need to go anywhere to be spontaneous and travel. To experience the feeling of a home away from home, book into a romantic hotel. Take off work, don't make any plans and then get creative together for your day of relaxation.
Real dancing - You can take a class together or hit a salsa club.
3. Ice skating.
There's a reason why couples are always hitting the rink in our favorite rom-coms. Go with your girlfriends or your significant other. Ice skating is always a fun idea.
4. A scavenger hunt.
You can make up your own, complete with creative challenges, photo missions, and sexy prizes or look for a local public event like the Amazing Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt in New York City.
5. A wine & Tapas crawl.
Skip the prix-fixe Valentine's Dinner restaurant - Hop from place-to-place (you can always check Opentable for ideas), grab seats at the bar, and order different kinds of wine and tapas all along the way. Way more interesting experience than a sit-down dinner.
6. Be a tourist in your own town.
Especially in Miami or NYC, there is so much to do that we sometimes don't take advantage. Put everything else on hold for the day and do all the activities you have on your list but haven't made time for.
7. Watch old romantic movies.
If you want to stay in but need a change from Netflix shows - stream classics like Casablanca and Roman Holiday or timeless favorites like Say Anything and The Bodyguard.
8. Make a fort.
Build a fort in the living room, lighten up the space with candles, and watch a movie to make the night more romantic. A fun adorable way to tap into your inner child, plus stay in and still enjoy Valentine's Day.
9. Go to an Event
Tickets to a local jazz club, a musical, sports game or museum tour? Either idea will be fun and outgoing. Dress up and splurge on fancy cocktails to make the outing extra special.
But I get it who doesn't love flowers and some jewelry, or Valentine’s Day chocolates and fancy dinners. There's no reason you can't do both, if you can't think of a gift to get, below are some ideas. This Valentine's Day Abd-Allah and I celebrated early (since the 14th falls on a Wednesday). We chose to enjoy a weekend hotel staycation and act like tourists in our own city, but we still exchanged some gifts. And I love my gifts (as you can tell from my photos), but what I'll cherish most is the memory of laughing so hard at dinner it felt like an ab workout and watching the sunrise together on South Beach. I'll remember laughing and screaming as he was carried me into the ocean (because I didn't want to get my hair wet) and visiting the Frost Museum of Science (finally) because we kept putting it off. Point is whatever you chose to do, appreciate the time you spend with the people in your life. Don't stress and ruin the day over gifts or getting the best photo to share on Instagram - live in the moment and enjoy.