While the classic “romantic prix fixe dinner at a white-tablecloth restaurant” option might remain in your arsenal of choices for the most arbitrarily important date night of the year, that doesn’t mean you need to take the bait. The restaurant industry definitely deserves its share of your love (money), but it’s understandable if you forgo the tableside service this year in the midst of a pandemic. Whether you want to stay at home or just stay away from people, here are a few alternatives to expressing your love through a 4-course meal.

You can have the time of your life in the place where you’ve spent most of the last year—it just takes a little planning.

Spa day in the bathroom

You’d be forgiven for going truly feral this year—salons have been intermittently shut down, and even with them reopening, bookings can be hard to come by. Part of the fun of going out for a special night is the looking part, which is dependent on the getting ready part, which can be incredibly indulgent when you actually have nowhere to be and nothing to get ready for.

Unisex Organic Waffle Robe – coyuchi.com

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While we don’t all have massage therapists on speed dial or saunas in our homes, you can definitely recreate some of the best spa experiences with a little ingenuity.

Don your robes and slippers. If you haven’t already invested in these pieces, we’re going to be living like this for at least another 6 months so might as well make it as luxurious as possible.

Classic Slippers – parachutehome.com

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Get the aromatherapy going. To really get the steamy fragranced essence of a spa, fill a diffuser with eucalyptus. If you have a tiny bathroom with poor ventilation, no windows, and a shower that gets hot fast, you could even create a makeshift steam room!

Saje Aroma Om Essential Oil Diffuser – amazon.com

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Invest in spa-worth beverages. Throw some cucumbers in ice water. Brew some herbal tea. Spa experiences are dehydrating and hydration is the key to beauty.

matcha face moisturizer – cocokind.com

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Gather the slatherables. Oil cleanser, gommage, essence, face mask, peel, serum, moisturizer—explore your options. And yes, there’s all sorts of stuff for your whole body too—body scrub, body serum, body butter—you get the point.

Pure Radiance Sugar Exfoliating Body Scrub – truebotanicals.com

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Dip into professional tools. Do gua sha, lymphatic drainage and microcurrents really transform your skin? Some say yes, and some say it doesn’t matter because it’s fun to believe.

Intro Gua Sha Tool – Nephrite Jade – net-a-porter.com

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Massage. You’re already naked under the robe, you’re in the safety of your own home, it’s Valentine’s Day. If anything, this could be a great chance to get to know each other on a more ~intimate~ level. Get some massage oil, or if you’re feeling adventurous, try a massage candle.

Masterclass in the kitchen

You want to eat delicious food, but don’t want to share pics on social of you two living it up out and about maskless? Sign up for a virtual cooking class you can take together. If you can’t stand the heat, you can literally get out of the kitchen or just take your pants off—or both! A quick search will give you options for everything from French brunch to Italian dinner to Japanese souffle pancakes.

Make Japanese Souffle Pancakes At Home – airbnb.com

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Glamp out on the couch


Like every holiday that has passed in quarantine times, this Valentine’s Day falls conveniently on a day when in normal times you could have used it to its fullest advantage—Sunday. While you may have found yourself doing this exact thing for the past 11 months, if you really commit to the bit that this is a special, rare occurrence, it could be magical. Here’s how to go all out:

Depending on you and your S.O.’s tastes, sign up for a niche streaming service—you’re only going to use it for the free trial period. A few to consider: Mubi, Criterion,and CuriosityStream.

CuriosityStream – CuriosityStream

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Attire is important. No, you aren’t getting dressed up to sit on the couch—you cannot properly lounge in pants with buttons. Instead, upgrade your sweats to something totally touchable. Think one of a kind, shibori-dyed cashmere sweats from a local artist or sustainably sourced, small-batch cotton joggers Leggings are athleisure; this is athluxury.

Limited Edition: Men’s Organic Heirloom Brown Jogger Pants – harvestandmill.com

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SNACKS. This is really where you show how well you know your lover. Are they addicted to charcuterie boards? Do they linger reading the label of every obscure health snack in the aisle of your local grocery store? Whatever their fancy, stock up and spread it all over the coffee table.

Stay away (outside)

You absolutely must get out of your house, but also want more than 6 feet between you and other parties of two? Here’s what you can do.

Force feed your lover chocolates in the lawn by Ghirardelli Square

If generic holiday traditions and barf-inducing PDA are your things, grab your picnic blanket, a bottle of champagne, and some strawberry-scented hand sanitizer and shove these classic SF chocolates in each other’s maws until you’re either sick from the sugar or your actions.

Signature Chocolate Gift Basket – ghirardelli.com

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Slurp oysters on the beach

We all know they’re an aphrodisiac. Now, add to the fact that you must use brute strength and survival skills to shuck these bad boys in order to survive on this pretend desert island? Hot.

Oyster Knife – oxo.com

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For the most steamy, least frustrating experience, you’ll need to gather your supplies ahead of time. Pack an oyster knife, gloves to prevent potential bloodspill (unless you’re into that?), a cooler filled with ice, lemon and hot sauce, a beach blanket, cute napkins and a large, sexy platter to avoid sand in your shells. As for where to acquire the goods, reserve them ahead of time from your favorite restaurant or sea mongerer—order online from Hog Island in the Ferry Building or call Portofino in North Beach the morning of—they’ve always come through.