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Valentine's Day Suggestions

It has been 2 years since we talked Valentine.  The holiday is coming up again, and -- if an urbanPapa asked for ideas to celebrate with his beloved -- what would you suggest?  An urbanPapa emails:

I have known my lovely, wonderful wife for almost ten years, this means ten years of birthdays, Christmases, anniversaries, and...wait for it....Valentine's Day. Over the years, I have tried to stay away from more routine ideas on these days - giving flowers and chocolates for instance. Coming up with new and unique ways to show my adoration was pretty easy in the early years, became harder once children arrived on the scene, and now I find myself a little tapped out on ideas. So please help me urbanMamas! I need some creative ideas for celebrating Valentine's Day.

C'mon urbanMamas, help an urbanPapa out....


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I would like my husband to plan an activity for us and actually do the planning himself: hire the babysitter, plan the dinner/snacks or whatever for them, sign us up for the activity. At the New Seasons Cooking School there is a Valentine's Day Dinner Date that sounds great. He could take me bouldering, to a beer tasting at one (or a few) of the new beer places around like Green Dragon or the Belgian Embassay, or a hike and picnic on a trail we've never been to (scouted out beforehand of course, with romantic notes and chocolates hidden along the trail for a nice touch).

Really, I don't care WHAT we do, what would be really nice is for him to plan the whole thing. Usually if we treat ourselves to a date night, I have to set up the whole thing, all the way from getting a babysitter, getting dinner for them, deciding where we'll go and what we'll do, and a back-up plan (yes, really, it's surprising how many times we've found that the place we were dying to eat at, and finally got the chance, happened to be randomly closed the one night we decided to eat there).

Two similar ideas, one more labor intensive than the other:

Easy: New Seasons has "coupon books" for family which include things like "I'll make your bed" and "You win this argument" coupon.
Harder: Make one of your own, with things like "Papa makes dinner tonight" to be redeemed on a night of her choice, or a "I'll take on the kids while you have you-time" coupon. Be creative and include things your wife/partner would enjoy: Night out with the ladies? Date night planned by hubby (per the pp)? I wash the dishes? Free litter-box emptying? Night at the coast? Trip to the zoo with kids, I'll pack the picnic?
Good luck!

I am with Blair. I don't care we do as long as my husband does the planning. I think him taking care of the details is the best present.

my baby is too small to leave with a sitter but I would love to be showered with affections!
a warm bath, foot rub, cup of tea or wine and sharing all of these with the best papa would make this mama's V day.
and don't forget some soothing music goes a long way to feeling loved.

DH once gave me a mini-photo album--mostly pics of just the two of us pre-kids. This was before all the shutterfly and sites like that. I made photo albums for the grandparents using a website, I think it was Tabblo (I think I accessed it through my Flickr account). It took no time at all, but it was seriously the most well-received gift I have given in years. I *almost* felt badly knowing that the effort I put into the albums was no where near what everyone thought.

I also agree with the "you plan it" suggestion- but for me the best is some sort of spa date. I love to go and get a massage with my husband and then go for a dinner after we're all nice and relaxed. Some places (Dragontree and Barefoot Sage) have rooms with couches where you can sit together and get foot massages while sipping tea. I enjoy this as well. Good luck and have fun!

What Blair said. It's seems that us gals plan evvveerrrything. I would ask the significant other who's NOT the planner/general go-to person to step up and make something happen. It doesn't have to be an enormously grand gesture. Think about your partner and imagine what they might like to do, OR, ask them. If you don't know who to call for kid coverage, ask your spouse who to call. Really, all it takes for most of us to be 100% happy is some adult conversation, a reason to put on some make-up, good food and maybe a cocktail or two.
Get to planning!

Definitely agree on the papa doing the planning ... AND, I don't think you can ever go wrong with some sort of pampering thing. My husband gave me a very nice gift certificate to Zenana Spa last year, and a promise to take care of everything at home on the day I chose to use it. It was just for a set amount - so I could order whatever service I wanted, when I most wanted it. It was so fantastic.

The best birthday present I've ever received is the "Tuesday Nights Off" arrangement. He basically gave me every Tuesday night off do whatever I please (on an ongoing basis!!). I can go out with friends, or work late (believe it or not, it is a luxury to be able to sit at my desk as long as I need to once a week, without that pressure to get home), or get the grocery shopping done in a leisurely fashion, or see a movie alone ... or even just come home and play with our child while he makes the dinner and does the bath and bedtime. I LOVE IT!

Flowers and a box of Van Duyn chocolate, homemade in Portland. (There is a reason flowers and chocolate are cliche!)

I definitely agree with the planning idea and chocolate and flowers are always welcome. This year I'm asking for underwear, the sexy, nowhere-near practical, non-mama kind that I just don't buy for myself anymore.

For a unique experience for Valentine's Day treat yur family to a photo session with Campbell Salgado. The session itself is special...sweet moments surronded by a caring team in a beautiful sellwood studio. They have a unique way of capturing life.
Then return for an amazing show of portraits that will have you in awe.

One year DH totally surprised me with a nice dinner in the Pearl, and then took me to the Jupiter Hotel on Burnside where he had booked us a room. He had arranged for his parents to take our twins overnight and even packed my bags for me! He did forget a couple of things, but who was I to bring that up!

One year my husband surprised me with a dinner at home. After my daughter was in bed, he insisted I take a bath. While I was soaking, he did a quick clean up (stash toys) of the living room, lit a duraflame log, and put out a lovely dinner he had picked up from on of our favorite restaurants. He even remembered to pick up wine and dessert. It was inexpensive and easy, but to this day is one of my fondest Valentine's dates.

I just heard about the cool Valentine day idea. Foster and Dobbs in NE Portland is hosting a Valentine's Day Fondue for Couples. If I remember correctly it starts at 8:00pm on Thursday, February 14th and it is $40 per couple includes the fondue and two glasses of wine. Reservations are required & it is limited seating. Foster and Dobbs #503.284.1157.

Lots of good ideas. For me, the most important part would be some time to get pampered (for me it's a massage or pedi) while feeling absolutely no guilt about what dad and kids are up to.

I love the idea of a hotel room. That kind of forces you to get away from everything that pulls at you when you're home. It's too easy to think about picking up toys, doing dishes, or whatever when it's all right in front of you.

My husband and I (ok, mostly just me) haven't wanted to deal with getting a sitter for things like New Year's Eve or Valentine's in the past so I've planned things for home. I'll get a nice bottle of wine or champagne, some fancy foods that are either a little pricier or more decadant than we might feel comfortable with for daily eating -- cheeses, prociutto, other snacky items, homemade seafood dip, etc. We have a great time, avoid crowds and overtaxed restaurants and spend a lot less than if we'd have gone out.

I just saw the fondue suggestion. That's super easy to do at home too, if you don't want to go out. Even if you're not much of a cook, you could surprise your spouse with fondue. If you don't have a fondue pot, it's not critical, although the presentation isn't quite as fantastic.

Here's one easy recipe:

Cheese Fondue
Yield: Serves 2.
1 garlic clove
1 c white wine
1 pinch salt
1 pinch white pepper (I've used black without problem)
1 pinch nutmeg
4 oz Emmenthaler cheese, grated
4 oz Gruyère cheese, grated
1 T flour

Slice garlic clove in half and rub inside of fondue pot. Add wine, salt, pepper and nutmeg to fondue pot and bring just to a boil.

Mix cheeses and flour together and stir into boiling wine mixture. Lower heat.

Serve with crusty bread cubes, cubes of boiled potato and apple chunks.

To lower the cost even further, substitute regular Swiss, grated, for either the Emmenthaler or Gruyère.

Add a salad and you've got a quick, easy and decadant dinner. To dress up the usual green salad, I add sliced pear and either walnuts, pine nuts or sliced almonds before tossing.

Am I the only one on this site who doesn't know what a "DH" is?

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