Looking for a fun way to surprise your S.O. for Valentine’s Day? We have some great ideas that go beyond the usual.
On such an occasion as Valentine’s Day, with couples everywhere celebrating their love en masse, there are those who stick to the tried-and-true (read: predictable and uninspired) and then there’s you. You know you want to do better this year than any of the standard tropes: dinner and a show, chocolate and flowers, Netflix and chill, etc. You can leave those methods to literally everyone else.
If yours is an unconventional love befitting an unconventional approach, you might consider adding an element of surprise to the festivities. Lean less on the spring-loaded gift wrap or jumping out from behind a corner themes, and more on subtle ways to delight your valentine, whether on simple or grandiose terms, with sweet little secrets tucked into your Valentine’s Day celebrations.
Help keep the mystery alive in your relationship this Valentine’s Day with any or all of these seven unusual ways to surprise your sweetheart.
Keeping It Close: Hidden Heart Cake
Heart-shaped accessories make everything possible, so much so that your whole day could be heart-food-themed, from heart-shaped waffles in the morning, to heart-shaped burgers, to heart-shaped chicken parm for crying out loud. Listen, we get it, you’re in love, but that kind of on-the-aorta style is enough to make Cupid himself nauseated. Instead, just make a lovely meal of your choosing with foods in their natural state—also a fine theme for Valentine’s Day—and finish with this sweet little loaf cake whose heart is anywhere but on its sleeve. Get the Hidden Heart Cake recipe.
Wilton 3-inch Red Metal Cookie Cutter, $3.09 on Amazon
For adding hearts to your dinner, subtle or otherwise.
Secret Rendezvous: Speakeasy Dining at Frevo
Speakeasies are a growing trend in American cocktail culture, especially around the 100 year anniversary of the start of Prohibition, and a fine option for Valentine’s Day, with their often glam throwback ambience and naughty, getting-away-with-something vibes. Now, there are speakeasies that call themselves as such and have little more than a heavy door and an understated sign. And then there are truly hidden rooms: where one’s Valentine might be surprised by finding a bar on the other side of a phone booth, or a hardware store, or a bodega.
And then there’s the latest and greatest: Frevo, a full fine dining restaurant hidden behind an art gallery, where you and your valentine pass through a painting before settling into the sumptuous kitchen counter to enjoy a multi-course tasting menu. Now THAT’s a Valentine’s Day dinner and a show. Look for similar style restaurants and bars in whatever town you celebrate V-Day in.
Hidden Treasures: Jackpot Candles
Candles are one of the most universally well-regarded gifts for any occasion: functional and beautiful, at once timeless and finite. But because they are one of the most oft-given presents, perhaps your valentine will feel momentarily disappointed that your gift lacks, I dunno…a little bling, perhaps? But if you’re in it for the long-game, or even the at-least-a-few-days-more game, have patience. Once melted these candles reveal a hidden gem. Literally. In ring form.
Jackpot Candle with Ring Inside, $24.95 on Amazon
Wait...is this a proposal?
Keep the Mystery Alive: Cooking Basket Challenge
The couple that sautés together, stays together. (I think I got that right.) What is more romantic than cooking in on Valentine’s Day, out of sight and more than an elbow’s distance away from everyone else’s V-Day celebrations? For an element of fun and surprise, go for a mystery-basket cooking challenge. Have a (trusted) friend or family member prepare a basket of three or four items for you and your valentine to figure out what dinner will then be. Or celebrate dinner-party style where each couple brings a mystery basket for a specific course, which will be up to one of the other couples to cook. What better way to test your compatibility?
Picnic Time Basket with Gingham Liner, $44.95 on Amazon
Mystery ingredients sold separately.
Melt Your Heart: Blooming Chocolate Swirl Balls
Along with candles, and your heart, chocolate is another thing that can be counted upon to melt on Valentine’s Day when heat is applied. Already synonymous with this amourous event, you can also put chocolate to use as an agent for a surprise reveal. An easy to make chocolate shell can hide whatever treasures you want on the inside: messages, gifts, or even more chocolate. Your valentine may only think they’re getting dessert. What they’re actually getting is…well, dessert and whatever else you want to dazzle them with, even if only your dessert-making capabilities. Get the Blooming Chocolate Swirl Balls recipe.
Escapist Fantasies: DIY Escape Room
Heads up: This is not about locking your valentine in a closet. This is the graduated version of the adorable Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt you might have done for your high school sweetheart. Taking the puzzles, tasks, and game elements of the Escape Rooms that are all the rage right now, these DIY ideas from Lock Paper Scissors help you to create a customized escape room in your own house. What awaits on the other side of the locked door or locked box is entirely your affair. (Pun intended.)
5-Digit Bike Lock Cable, $12.99 on Amazon
You can set the code to your heart at any significant number of your choosing.
Love Potion Number 9: Color Changing Martini
Set the scene thusly: “Darling, this is what you do to my heart…” before adding the final element that turns this cocktail from a deep purple to a bright fuchsia. The latest secret ingredient for abracadabra bartenders is Butterfly Pea Flower Powder, which reacts with acid, in this case lemon juice, to provide a little show-stopping, transformative color action. Cheesy come-on lines sold separately, but no matter what, at the end you have a lovely, ginger-spiced cocktail to enjoy, which can help with Valentine’s Day transformations of your own design. Get the Color Changing Martini recipe.
Butterfly Pea Flower, $18.25 on Amazon
The drinks won't be the only things blushing.
Header image courtesy of With love of photography/Getty Images