Originally published in The Tulsa Voice
Ah, the scent of commercialized love is wafting through the air, and the red and pink-adorned aisles at CVS can only mean one thing: Valentine’s Day is upon us. If the idea of dropping a wad of cash on flowers, prix-fixe dinners, chocolate, and spa treatments makes you want to jump off a bridge, consider these ideas instead. They’re fun, cheap, heartfelt, and way more interesting than a stuffed bear proclaiming everlasting love.
Whether you head for a pub or download your own game to play at home, trivia is an awesome way to test your partner’s internal library of useless knowledge. Remember: half the fun of trivia is seeing who can rack up the most inconsequential points, so raise the stakes a bit with a prize for the winner. (Hopefully, it’ll be lucky for everyone involved.)
Embrace your true nature
An awesome disc golf course, plenty of room to toss a football or frisbee, prime picnicking spots, hiking trails, wide open spaces for hand-in-hand frolicking, and killer rock climbing routes make Chandler Park an oasis for outdoorsy folks. If your date is kind of granola, pack up the car and head to Chandler for an afternoon outside.
Learn their Language…
Ever wondered why the “little things” matter so much to your partner? It might be because they speak a different Love Language than you. Dr. Gary Chapman suggests that everyone speaks one of five main love languages: physical touch, small gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation, or quality time. If you really want to make sure your beloved knows you love them, take the online test together at 5lovelanguages.com and gain insight into how you can better communicate.
…Then speak it
If your partner’s Love Language is acts of service, show them you’re listening by picking up an extra chore around the house, changing their oil, or making them that craft project they’ve been eyeing. If your partner sits squarely in the “Quality Time” camp, block out the entire day and brainstorm an adventure together.
Suds it up
Instead of sending your partner to a spa (and a stranger), deliver that primo treatment yourself. Pick up a fizzy bath bomb or two, light some smell-good candles, chill a bottle of champagne, Google a recipe for chocolate-covered strawberries, and do the damn thing. Bonus points if you throw in a back, neck, or foot rub.
Get in tune
Whether you’re dating someone new or trying to keep the flame burning in a long-term relationship, you can learn a lot about a person from his or her musical taste. Spend a night in with your partner talking tunes. Take turns sharing favorite albums or songs. After each, talk about why you love them, where you first heard them, and why you chose to play them for V-day. Don’t have a record player? We’re breaking up.
Love and basketball
Playing basketball still rules. Even if you aren’t any good at it, there are several reasons why you should hit the court with your babe and break a sweat: 1) Knock Out wasn’t just fun in 5th grade—it’s still fun in adulthood. 2) Games stimulate our minds and our desire to perform. Translation: you’re bound to do something awesome and impress your partner. 3) Even if that doesn’t happen, acting like a goof with the one you love is freeing. 4) All that full-court action is a great way to burn some energy. (Here’s hoping you look good sweaty.)
Give a little
Love can feel hard to come by these days, but in the words of my favorite Christmas movie, “love actually is all around.” Remind others by foregoing gifts or lavishness this year and focus instead on spreading love to someone in need. Check out current volunteer opportunities at places like the Boys and Girls Club, Food on the Move, Hospitality House, The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges, or Seasons Hospice. Or, send a note to your favorite barista, co-worker, neighbor, or doctor, thanking them for their care.
Chelsea Does… Do you?
If you’re both V-Day cynics, check out the first episode of Chelsea Handler’s new docu-series, “Chelsea Does…” In episode one, Handler grapples with questions like, “Why do people get married?” “Can people be committed?” and “How does BDSM really work?” She consults with happily married couples of all ages, orientations, and lifestyles, along with exes, family members, and even the founder of Ashley Madison (you know, the website designed to help you cheat on your spouse). And, it’s $free.99 on Netflix.
How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways
For a meaningful (and cheap, cheesy, and easy!) gift, grab a stack of Post-Its and jot down something you appreciate or admire about your partner on each one. To make a date out of it, grab two pads of stickies and read the love notes to one another over a bottle of wine.
To the moon and back
With so much space at our fingertips here in Tulsa, we’d be crazy not to take advantage of it by getting handsy under the stars. Tulsa’s rife with spots perfect for taking in a primo sunset (or moonrise), and some even offer reprieve from light pollution, too. Fill a thermos full of bubbly, brown, or vino, head to Maple Park for a killer view of the Tulsa skyline, lay out a blanket and get cozy.
Get it on