Getty Image/Eric Raptosh Photography
Olivia Harvey
February 14, 2018 4:00 am

Ah, Valentine’s Day — the most romantic (supposedly) night of the year. That is, until you get to your restaurant and are bombarded by pushy people, loud music, and even louder table neighbors. Some people are just not about other people, and that’s totally okay. If you’re a couple that would rather avoid the Valentine’s Day crowds, we have some alternative options to make your celebration more personal.

When you really think about it, Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be about showing how much you care for your partner by the material  things you buy or experience. Dinners, chocolates, and flowers are nice and all, but sometimes they don’t really convey how much you love your significant other. Plus, you have to literally battle everyone else in relationships when trying to make a reservation. Everrryyyonneeee is trying to make a res for the 14th, and probably already did weeks before.

Instead, take some time to think about what you and your partner enjoy doing. Break outside the box and tap into your personalities. To help get your creative juices flowing, we’ve compiled a list of activities to do with your partner that don’t include pushing, yelling, or being stuck in traffic surrounded by other couples.

Breathe a sigh of relief and follow our lead to avoid the Valentine’s Day chaos.

1Candlelit dinner at home.

Treat your partner to some home cooking rather than a night out. Loud restaurants can distract you from one another, so setting up something at home may be a great alternative. Prepare their favorite meal from scratch or even order takeout if that’s more your style (but be prepared: your favorite restaurant might not be equipped to do takeout that night if they’re focusing on the lines at the door and reservations).

2Movie night (they don’t have to be all rom-coms).

Pull up Netflix, open up your queue, and get to movie-marathoning. You can make the night more special by prepping some gourmet snacks (garlic and herb popcorn, perhaps?), popping open that nice bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion, and dragging all the blankets in your house to the couch.

3At-home couples spa retreat.

Stock up on face masks, bath bombs, candles, incense, wine, and anything else to make an at-home spa night complete. Dim the lights in your bathroom and enjoy some relaxation time with your significant other. You can decompress from the day and tune into each other.

4Valentine’s Day brunch.

Romantic dinners are what Valentine’s Day is kind of all about. But your favorite restaurants are going to be packed come dinner hour. So why not bump up your meal time by a few hours and book a brunch. You may have to rework your day a bit, but to avoid the hubbub of dinnertime, it might be worth it.

5Celebrate on a different day.

To celebrate on February 14th, couples have to make dinner reservations weeks in advance. And, sorry, but you know you won’t be the only couple in love at the restaurant. To make your Valentine’s Day celebration solely about you and your partner, pick another day out of the month to go out and treat each other. The day could hold significance or it could be completely random. Postpone until another night and you’ll beat the crowds and focus back in on your relationship.

6Head out of the city.

City-dwellers, get the heck outta dodge. Book an overnight stay at a small bed and breakfast in the suburbs outside the city or take your partner on a moonlit picnic at the beach. Separate yourselves from the hustle and bustle and enjoy each other’s company.

7Make reservations on the early or late side.

Finding the sweet spot to go to dinner the night of Valentine’s Day can be the difference between calm and casual and a three-hour wait. You may feel like your grandparents or crazy kids depending on when you decide to go out, but hey, you’re just playing it smart.

8Do an activity other couples wouldn’t think to do.

While everyone else is out to dinner or drinks, head to your local arcade or sign up for a cooking class. Take a step outside the mainstream to have a more private experience.

9Host a Valentine’s Day party at your place.

Okay, you may not be avoiding a crowd if you go with this option. But at least if you throw a party with all your coupled-up friends, you’ll be in a crowd you won’t want to avoid. This could be a small dinner party with one or two other couples, or a full-on bash. The best part is, if you host, you don’t have to go anywhere.

10Spend the day or evening in bed.

You know what we mean. Pretend the outside world doesn’t exist. No phones, no chores, no leaving — except to refill the champagne glasses.

11Set up an at-home wine or beer tasting.

Pick up a few bottles of wine or beer you’ve always wanted to try and treat yourself and your partner to a tasting. Serve appetizers (we suggest a well-stocked cheese board, of course) and fall in love with a new favorite beverage. Trying new things as a couple is great way to jazz up your relationship, even if you’re just popping open a new bottle of Pinot Grigio.

12Ask for a private booth or VIP spot at your go-to restaurant or bar.

Sometimes cutting through the crowds to get to a little slice of peace and quiet is worth it. If your local hangout has private tables or VIP sections, splurge and reserve the setting for the night. It’s always fun to feel a little special while out on the town.

13Go to a double-feature movie.

Even when the movie theater is crowded, it can still feel like you’re the only ones in there. See if any classic romance films are playing at your local independent theater or go check out some of the new releases. If you bop from theater to theater all night, you won’t have to deal with the madness of being outside on the most “romantic” night of the year.

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