Misguided Muse: 11th-hour Valentine's date ideas

Even after Cupid started waving his flag in department stores the minute the Christmas season ended, it still happened — you forgot to plan something for Valentine’s Day!

We’re all busy with school, work and shoveling our driveways these days to remember to make restaurant reservations, so fear not! I come bearing possible solutions.

Here are a few last-minute ideas that can help turn a date for Valentine’s Day or this weekend into something a bit more memorable than the typical “dinner and a movie” routine you might end up resorting to.

1. Go on an outdoor adventure.

If you’re dating or married to someone who has a certain lust for excitement and doesn’t mind the cold, bundle up and go out somewhere. Go out and enjoy a snow sport together if you’re both up for it. Maybe take a light hike somewhere serene where the trails are cleared and enjoy these picturesque Utah mountains of ours up close. You could even just go out and play in the snow like giddy grade-schoolers. What’s more adorable than scenes of lovers making snow angels and forts together or pelting each other with snowballs? This would easily make for a fun group activity too, if you weren’t up for going alone. No matter what you end up doing, make sure the date ends someplace snuggly and warm with plenty of hot cocoa.

2. Seek out unique entertainment.

How many times are you going to go out and see a movie this year? There are plenty of other forms of performance that might bring a change of pace. Maybe pair up that nice dinner with a trip to the theater. Plays can be a really intriguing alternative to big-screen shenanigans, and though some bigger box-office theaters may require tickets in advance, there are plenty of local theaters that have great shows you could attend as a walk-in and thoroughly enjoy.

If you’re not in a dramatic mood, set the night to live music and seek out a large or small concert venue going on. Comedy improv shows are my personal favorite. It’s a great tension-breaker for first-time dates, and it’s void of awkward, intense scenes if you’re truly wishing to avoid dramatics.

3. Dedicate the day to a hobby or obsession of your valentine.

You know how they say it’s important to pay attention in relationships? Well, a surefire way to let that special someone know you’ve taken notice is to do something directly related to his or her interests. Does your lover like to sing? Go out for karaoke. Does your partner like to dance? Seek out a pulsating floor or a couples’ dance night. Some venues teach free lessons before their specialized dance nights, like West Coast Swing or line dancing, and it’s just something fun you and your date can do that’s directly interactive. It also hits that “unique entertainment” mark square on the head.

Is he or she the biggest fan of “insert-show-or media content-you’ve-never-seen-here”? Plan a marathon where your date can introduce you to his or her obsession. The key is taking the time to enjoy something with your sweetheart you might not otherwise, just to say, “Hey, you like this a lot. I noticed. Share this with me.”

4. Dinner and a living-room fort?

If you do end up spending the big occasion with your valentine at home, your spontaneity may be able to come from just altering the environment. Staying in may seem cozier if you attempt to make your date’s favorite dinner or dessert, or at least have it on hand.

Are movies, video games or board games on the agenda as inevitable entertainment? Find a way to make it cozy if you just plan on having a movie marathon. You can either go the successful cliched route of dimmed candlelight, or do something out of left field, like building a fort around your entertainment system. That might be something fun and spontaneous and might add to the intimate setting some couples might be craving. It’s a literal fortress away from the world, at least for one night.

Also, who says it has to just be a romantic comedy on the billing list? Try something to induce an adrenaline high with epic action that both you and your valentine might be able to gush geekishly over. Try laughing together, either with a series of slapsticks or even just horrendously cheesy movies that won’t fail to put either of you in a good mood. Sometimes, nothing brings two people together more than mutual heckling.

Despite this grocery list of backside-savers in the eyes of your beloved, it can be obviously noted that Valentine’s Day is not the one date out of the year reserved for someone to be romantic. Furthermore, it’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card for a relationship that may be going nowhere fast. It might be considered a celebration of the loved ones in our lives, and the best way to do that is to craft memories unique to our relationships. That is something that all of the fancy chocolates, wallet-breaking jewelry and posh dinner reservations in the world will never be able to replace.