Love is present in the simplest acts. Valentine’s Day 2021 doesn’t have to be about gifts, and it will be more meaningful when it’s not. Plus, committing to spending time together saves you from worrying whether the diamonds were safely mined or the cocoa used in the box of chocolates was harvested ethically. The truth is, conscientious shopping can be time-consumptive and stressful. This Valentine’s Day, keep it simple instead.

Dinner and dessert

For the past year, the world has been in varying phases of lockdowns, making restaurant reservations unpredictable and somewhat unnerving. Instead of dining out this year, make a meal together. Share a family recipe, try a food neither of you have ever had before, or create a completely vegan dish.

Related: Plants to give your loved one this Valentine’s Day

If neither of you are kitchen-savvy, take a virtual cooking class. Share the experience of learning a new technique or focus on a specific ethnic cuisine.

For dessert, set up a wine and chocolate pairing. Source some organic, fair-trade chocolate and match it with local or international wines made with organic grapes. If you’re not a wine-drinker, sample teas or coffees instead. 

Movie day

Cozy is the vibe for Valentine’s Day 2021, so cuddle up and enjoy a day of your favorite movies. Establish common ground in viewing preferences. You might be surprised to find your significant other loves documentaries about recycling or period pieces. Then again, maybe a comedy or action flick fits the bill. Round out the date with food and drink selections that are good for the body and the environment like a charcuterie tray of veggies, fruits and nuts.

hands grabbing chess pieces

Board games

Instead of flipping on the TV, interact over a game board. Will it be a competitive game of Battleship or Scrabble? Take the opportunity to teach and learn from each other. For example, introduce your partner to Backgammon or Chess. Even a basic deck of cards can offer entertainment for hours.

Travel locally or virtually

The pandemic has stymied most opportunities for casual travel, but Valentine’s Day offers a chance to make up for it. Use the day to sign up for a virtual tour of a museum, historical site or even a chocolate factory. Before or after your virtual experience, spend a few hours brainstorming and planning for your next real vacation. If you have a destination in mind, watch travel shows and online videos related to it. Create your ‘must-see’ list to work from when it’s time to book.

If the weather is tolerable, spend the day outdoors. Head to the beach, hike in the mountains, go camping, visit an animal sanctuary or spend the day on the slopes, depending on the regulations in your area. At home, plan an early dinner on the patio followed by drinks by the campfire.

It is winter, so if you encounter adverse weather, don’t let it ruin your day. Set up a tent indoors instead. Turn out the lights, light the candles, eliminate the electronics and take the time to enjoy each other’s company.

DIY spa time

You can make your own sugar scrub and face masks for the day of romance. Paint your partner’s toes or offer a massage. Share a bath, spend time in the sauna if you have one or soak in the hot tub. While a trip to a day spa means you don’t have to put forth any effort yourself, a DIY spa day at home offers a much more intimate and customizable experience.

couple dancing in their living room


While the majority of bars are closed and many restaurants have tight restrictions, it doesn’t mean you can’t don your dancing shoes. Put together a playlist of your favorite tunes coupled with some romantic ballads. Move the dining table out of the way or dance on top of it. It’s your date — have fun!

Volunteer time

Giving back to your community together is a meaningful way to strengthen your relationship. If regulations in your area allow it, find a volunteer opportunity and sign up. Head to the food bank or the soup kitchen. Work at the thrift shop or animal shelter. Sign up for a day at a Habitat for Humanity build site. If volunteer options are limited, collect donations instead. Put out a notice to the community, neighbors and/or friends, and organize a drive for diapers, coats, food or other causes close to your heart.

Learn a new skill

As individuals, you each have your own strengths. Love is about vulnerability, so be willing to try something new. Let your partner teach you a new skill or craft. Face the power tools or mountain bike or stovetop that intimidates you. Trust your partner to lead you into unchartered waters in learning how to throw an ax, make candles or take a spin with the pottery wheel.

two people having wine while talking over a video call

Have a virtual date

If you can’t be together on Valentine’s Day or if you’re wading through the early days of getting to know each other, enjoy a virtual date instead. Set up a video call to share a glass of wine. Better yet, set a shared goal beforehand, such as video chatting while hiking with your pets or bird watching.

However you choose to spend your holiday, the circumstances of 2021 might be the perfect opportunity for unique experiences that create long-lasting memories.

Images via Adobe Stock