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Sometimes life can get a little too busy for our bandwidth, and one thing or another ends up falling through the cracks. Worse, sometimes that one thing or another ends up being an event or holiday that you really wanted to make special—Valentine’s Day, for example. Now, if you’re the type of person that has it together and can’t relate to anything I’m saying, kudos (also, you’re probably not reading this right now). However, if it feels like I’m speaking directly to you, yeah, you’re human. Fortunately, even if you have accidentally put off making plans to the last minute, it’s still entirely possible to pull something special together. All you need is a little inspiration and, guess what? We’ve asked men’s lifestyle and travel expert Joe Miragliotta from Joe’s Daily to share his best suggestions when it comes to last-minute Valentine’s Day ideas.

1. Learn something

Whether you’ve been together for three months or three decades, every couple has a few things to gain from taking a class together. First, and it admittedly goes without saying, introducing a new activity into a routine is perfect for shaking things up. Then there’s the actual education part. What’s nice about taking a class with someone else is, not only do you come away having learned a new skill, you also get to learn something new about one another. Maybe one of you is a surprisingly good cook, maybe the other has a natural knack for painting, or maybe you’re both just really awesome at taking direction. As another little bonus, endeavors that require you to work together, like dancing, might even help you be more in synch in other areas, too. As for what classes to take, that’s entirely up to you. For all of the interests and hobbies out there, there are classes to go with them.

2. Speaking of cooking…

Chances are if you’re looking for a last-minute idea for Valentine’s Day, the restaurants you love are already booked up. Not to worry. As it turns out, cooking with your significant other can actually be really gratifying. When the focus is more about spending quality time together and enjoying the fruits of your labor—as opposed to rushing to make sure you get food on the table before 9 p.m.—it makes for a completely enjoyable experience. If you’re both amazing cooks, try something adventurous and indulgent that you’ve never made before. For those where only one really knows what they’re doing, never underestimate the helpfulness of chopping and relaying the next step in the recipe. If skills are basically nonexistent between you, one word: pasta. And, when it’s just going to be a situation where you’re burning water, maybe preparing dinner together comes after one of those classes I mentioned above (*cough* the cooking class *cough*).

Cooking with your spouse

Cooking class on board Regent Seven Seas Cruises

3. No reservations required

Lucky for us, not everything there is to do on Valentine’s Day or its associated weekend requires advance notice. No, you might not be able to score tickets to that Broadway show you’ve been wanting to see, but there are still plenty of things to do in your city that stir up that same kind of amative feeling. If the weather’s nice enough, consider taking a stroll around a local arboretum or botanical garden. If not, how about a museum or art gallery? Of course, if your minds are of a more curious variety, there’s nothing wrong with making it a science center or something of that nature. The idea is to find a place that appeals to both of you and enjoying taking in the experience together. Also, you know, without a reservation required.

Los Angeles Natural History Museum

Los Angeles Natural History Museum

4. Get childish

But then, sometimes you just want to stay in. Like, really in. If you happen to be the kind of person that thinks building forts in the living room is weird beyond a certain age, this option is probably not for you. For those of you that fall on the other side of things, you’re not alone. Building a fort (pillow or sheet, I’m not here to tell you how to do things) is a fun way to create an even more intimate space within your already intimate space. Once you’re inside, you’re not distracted by looking around and thinking about how you need to vacuum or seeing mail stacked on the counter that needs to be taken care of. No, once you’re in, it’s much easier to stay focused on the reason the structure was created in the first place: spending time together. Just grab some building materials, maybe a deck of cards, a computer for streaming some movies, ideas for “Never Have I Ever”, and your S.O. and you are well on your way to a relaxing, romantic, and maybe a little nostalgic day.

5. Recreate a magic moment

If time is getting a little down to the wire and you’re worried that the day won’t be quite special enough, why not pull something from a great memory you already share? While I would never suggest trying to recreate it fully (because let’s be honest, that’s going to be nearly impossible to do), choose an element or two that clearly remind you of it and go from there. Choices are going to be specific to every relationship but if you’re in need of some ideas, the signature cocktail from your wedding, the fantastic dish from your first Valentine’s Day, or even a diffuser with the same essential oil blend as the spa you visited on a favorite trip are ideal places to start. For extra points (did I not tell you that we’re keeping score?) try to incorporate samples from several different meaningful times into the evening, maybe even accompanied by a corresponding photo album. The individual pieces might not be completely original, but bringing them all together definitely will be.

6. Look to the future

According to a study from 2010, the uptick in happiness we get from going on vacation actually becomes measurable the moment the plans are made. While this might sound like common sense when you think about it, that’s not stopping me from using this fact toward making my point for this option. That said, if you weren’t able to plan out the most amazing Valentine’s Day event ever this year, why not give yourselves the gift of happiness via anticipation by planning the perfect trip together? It could be down the road to a B&B next month, an all-inclusive getaway for a birthday, or a visit on the other side of the world for your next big anniversary. I could keep going with ideas, but I think you’ve got the gist. However, if you find you could use a little more inspiration, we’ve got more than a few lying around here.

Joe and Sarah on vacation in Greece

A romantic trip to Greece with my wife, Sarah.

7. DIY a deux

While it may not seem like the most romantic thing to do, similar to cooking, taking a step back to enjoy what you’ve created together is definitely something that can bring you closer. What’s better than cooking, you get to remember your efforts together every time you stop to admire the completed project. Maybe it’s something as simple as some antiquing followed by an upcycle, or maybe it’s something a little more complicated like adding that backsplash the kitchen has been crying out for. Just make sure to keep a good part of the focus on the journey, otherwise, you might be recalling a tensely frustrating Valentine’s Day instead of a happy accomplishment every time you look at it.

8. Have a drive and a picnic

True story, sometimes you want to be alone, but you also don’t want to be cooped up inside. For these cases, I would recommend a scenic drive with a picnic. It could be in your own car or a convertible you rented for the day, along with a favorite route or an unplanned one, with a home-packed lunch or the spoils of a random charcuterie challenge you set yourselves at a grocery store halfway through the day. So long as you have enough gas to get home and a few road games to play along the way, you’re probably set to have a pretty amazing day.

Romantic Valentine's Day Picnic

Take a road trip and have a picnic.

9. Spa day

Now, if you are able to find a spa that has last-minute openings for couples treatments, that’s amazing—good for you. If you’re not, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a spa day with your partner right at home. True, it’s not going to be a completely work-free day, but that doesn’t mean it won’t still be wonderfully relaxing. Just make a list of all the things you like (or would like) to have done when you go to the spa and a quick pop to the store later you’re ready to go. Cold towel and amazing ambient smell? Oil diffuser and…yeah, damp towels that have been thrown in the fridge. Facial? You definitely have various pre-packaged options basically anywhere you go. Massage? Grab a hand-held one and take turns or grab a couple that sit in your chair and enjoy together. Soak with champagne? You guessed it, grab some bath salts and champagne. It only takes a little imagination to simulate a relaxing day at the spa. Even better, It’ll probably only be a fraction of the price.

Spa day on Valentine's Day

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