How to Have a Stress-Free Valentines Day Dinner
Be My Valentine
Planning a Romantic Valentines Day Dinner
Valentines Day, men and women, is the one day in the year dedicated to the celebration of love, to being publicly and intimately romantic. If you want to show your boundless love, demonstrate just how deep it is and how infinite by putting on a Valentines Day dinner then it's time to get practical. A stress-free Valentines Day dinner doesn't materialize in your romantic thoughts. It's a success because you've been terrific about planning it.
It isn't just about the dinner!
With two feet on the ground, here is the list of initial planning considerations:
- How many people to invite? Is your Valentine's dinner going to be an intimate soiree, or would you like to share the dinner with others, with the family? How many? Are you going to propose marriage?
- What's your budget?
- What's your theme?
- Do you want elegant dress, or casual?
- Are you going to make the Valentines dinner yourself at home (cook it, or 'cater' it)? Do you plan to have it in a restaurant? Do you plan to make a trip somewhere else in the world for your dinner?
- What menu do you have in mind? (I've put together a choice of four menus - as guides).
- Do you think you'll need to organize time off work - take that day that's owed?
- Then and only then can you get into the fun bits: How do you want to do your flower arrangements, your hair and your nails, your cards, candles? What music do you want to listen to, what movie to watch later on? Now your Valentines Dinner is stress-free you can give in to all those boundless, deep and intimate feelings - and enjoy yourselves. and your dinner.
Lace and Glass and Victorian Valentine
Is It a Romantic Dinner for Two? Budgeting for Valentines Day
Whether your Valentines Dinner is for just for the two of you, or for more, the bigger the budget, the splashier the dinner. The smaller the budget, the more ingenious you'll need to be to make it and yourself look beautifully romantic.
Knowing your limits and sticking to them means that your dinner won't make you sick with financial worries. Who needs an ulcer to play up on 14th February? Work out what your budget really is and write that sum on the top of your planning page! You want a stress-free Valentines Day dinner, right?
In order of importance, here is a short list of things to get real about when doing your sums (total them up on that page and see how they tally). Remember, it isn't just about the dinner. It's also about romance and seduction:
- Hair and beauty treatments
- Clothes, intimate garments and accessories
- Flowers, candles - those sorts of things
- Cost of the dinner (food) whether it is at a restaurant or in the privacy of your dining room, or in front of your fire.
- Champagne, crystal glasses, drinks, chocolates
You're the host or hostess, so you can juggle those sums any which way you desire but my suggestion is to prioritize how you look, how romantically you dress and make up, and how lovely you want to feel. Isn't it more romantic to invest in perfume and lingerie than it is to make your own chocolate soufflé? Your dinner can be delicious and look amazing too without spending on caviar and oysters (if that stretches your budget too much). One red rose in a pretty vase is as lovely as twelve.
Sticking to your limits is the secret to stress free anything in life. Get all the estimates, find out how much your ideas would cost. Make the phone calls, make the notes, (make sure the figures will add up to no more than the total on your page). Pop into those flower shops, the printers, the shoe shop. Call your beauty parlor and get the real estimate! How much will that morning at the spa set you back? Do you chose the spa morning (looking and feeling beautiful) over say a new hairdo, the smoked salmon and Champagne. Can't chocolate and cherries be just as romantic?
Now perhaps you can start to make a plan, to consider what theme is going to be central to your Valentines Day dinner, which theme is going to hold all the ideas together.
Your central theme is love. Will you be saying it in flowers, music, interesting foods, clothes, flowers, in a corner table in a French bistrô in the South of France? With hearts, (as I have done in the article!). How do you imagine it all? Is this the night you propose? How do you see yourselves - in your most romantic light?
Garters and Lace
What is your Valentines Day Dinner Theme?
Being a true 'Romantic', the only day in the year that my companion of more than twenty years takes seriously is Valentines Day. I rarely get a birthday card. He claims he isn't interested in Christmas (that's a lie!), but he is the most romantic partner a woman could ever desire . He buys me red roses, chocolates and plans for the two of us to be together romantically every year. He isn't original in this but he blows my mind every Valentines Day.
We used to go out for dinner, but now I prefer to make us a candlelit, stress-free Valentines Day dinner at home, in our farmhouse kitchen. We bake potatoes in the embers of our fire and eat them in front of licking flames (with melted butter and cold cream cheese) and a sausage or two. He gives me my box of chocolates and romantically, my favorite chocolate cake. Our kitchen looks like a movie set, not a jar out of place.
Classically Valentines Day is all about red roses, lace, chocolates, red hearts. It's about romance and romance is lacy, pretty, candlelit. It is in the stars, on white linen, lingerie, red wine, sparkling champagne, in candelabras, antique silverware, romantic paintings, Rococo frames. It's in music and song and in movies. It's in the details you think about (really, any which way you fantasize). It's in how well you plan well ahead and how you make it!
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Valentine's Day Dinner at a Restaurant - Valentines Day Specials?
Perhaps you chose to have your Valentines Day dinner at an intimate restaurant, or a glitzy trendy one, or at that bistrô in the South of France. Do the research! Look at the menus and speak to the maitre'd about prices and tables and feel out which one is really sympathetic to your desires. Once you've decided on your romantic setting, then:
- look around for restaurants that are offering Valentines Day 'Specials'
- make the reservation way ahead of time (book your airline tickets if you're jetting off somewhere)
- chose which table you want
- order the flowers and make sure they will be on the table when you make the reservation and then again on February 14th to make sure that they will be on the table, or order them to bring yourself.
- if there is music, ask for your song. If there's a band, ask for your music.
- organize your transport, reserve your taxi or limousine (or your hotel room, why not?)
If your choice of restaurant is elegant, then you'll need to look pretty smooth. (Do you need to rent a tux? Are you going to buy a new dress and high heel shoes). If its casual, then make sure your shoes are as cool as those pressed jeans. Wear socks or stockings with hearts on. Wear red underwear. Well, wear red underwear anyway! I have it on first hand that men say it really is the sexiest color.
Homemade Valentines Dinner for Two
Since, (in my opinion) dining at home is the most intimate way to share Valentines Day it's time to work on the 'sets' and make sure everywhere is glowing clean. When the picture frames shine, and the desk is tidy and the cushions have been plumped up, then it's time to do all the fun stuff;
- Arrange candles.
- Choose music and movies.
- Decide what flowers to buy? Which vase to out them in? Where to put them?
- Lace cushions? A new romantic painting?
Since by now you know what you'll be wearing exactly (including the perfume, lipstick, lingerie too), then, and only then it's time to get real about the food for your stress free Valentines Day dinner.
How to Plan your Valentines Day Dinner
Will you have a caterer to deliver your dinner? If so, check the caterers out; find out what the reviews are saying about punctuality, how hot the food is, how pretty it is. Do they supply the dishes? Order the food you'd like and the time you'd like it to be delivered a week ahead and check again on the day that it's on their priority list. (Don't try a new catering company out on Februray 14th). Decide which drinks are best and order them. Order the ice. Do you have an ice bucket? Can you order one from the caterers? Put the Champagne in the (sparkling clean) refrigerator the day before, make sure your crystal glasses shine!
If you are cooking dinner and you don't have a lifetime of experience, then here are a few simple suggestions for a stress free Valentines Day dinner:
- You won't want any complicated foods to prepare on the evening,
- You don't want to smoke up the ambient with frying or roasting
- No strong food odors (no broiling, boiled greens or fish)
- Try not to have more than one pan around - so there's no confusion in the kitchen, or glumpy sink or trash can, or masses of dishes afterwards.
The very best plan is to have prepared most of your dinner the day before, (get the pans well out of the way) and the food in the refrigerator, so that you're only left with warming up and garnishing and serving at the last moment.
It is possible, especially if you make a meal you have rehearsed! Get the moved down.
Homemade Valentines Dinner for Two
Below are four menus that have ideas for courses, which show what sorts of foods to prepare that are both very romantic and Valentines Day in theme (red) but oh so simple to prepare, so that your stress free Valentines Day dinner will be as smooth as chocolate. You could always mix and match from these menu ideas, (see what your deli has too!) You know what will delight your partner, so go for that choice, or for something very like it.
And if formal eating is not your thing then you might like to pig out together on 'Hot Nutella Sandwich - dobbed with hot black fruits'. You could make the fruits red fruits instead of black, using cranberries, raspberries, strawberries.
Valentines Day Dinner Menus
1st Valentines Dinner Menu
2nd Valentines Dinner Menu
3rd Valentines Dinner Menu
Vegetarian Dinner menu
Hot tomato and sherry soup, topped with with heart shaped butter pats
Smoked salmon with hot blinis
Crostini with shrimp and gorgonzola.
Hot Pitta bread with houmus, Taramasolata and Guacomole
Cold lobster (out of its shell) with mayonnaise.
Spaghetti with cherry tomato sauce*
Fillet steak in pink pepper and cream sauce,
French chive omelette
Cherry tomato and chives salad. Small boiled new potatoes
Slices of cold roast beef with rugola salad*
Baked potato, Latuga and baby tomato salad
Sliced fennel, Gorgonzola and pear salad
Chocolate Mousse and Thick Cream
Chocolates, cherries in Kirsch, blueberries
Chocolate cake, strawberries and cream
10 Romantic Films
Bonnie and Clyde
Il Giardino dei Finzi Contini
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Under The Tuscan Sun
Something's Gotta Give
Pride and Prejudice
How to Plan the Dinner Menus
On February 13
House cleaning, top of the list!
- Shop for salads, flowers, tomatoes, spaghetti, deserts, drinks, chocolates, sauces, peppers, meats, extra virgin olive oil
- Set the table (except for flowers). Corkscrew! Glasses for water and wine (or Champagne flutes)
- Put the chairs, the candle holders
- Set the drinks table with drinks and glasses and an ice bucket
- Check the plates and cutlery you'll need and put them ready in the kitchen and on the table.
- Call any stores that are preparing foods for you and make sure they will have the orders ready the following morning.
- Prepare the foods that will need heating on 14th.
- Or, pack your small suitcase beautifully, with sensual thoughts and just a few clothes. Confirm your flight, your hotel booking, your restaurant.
Make (or buy) the soup. Put the butter pats in the refrigerator.
Make (or buy) the mayonnaise. Find a pretty dish for it. A silver serving spoon?
Find the cream jug.
Put the cream and the mousse in the refrigerator.
Make the spaghetti sauce. Set aside in the refrigerator.
Roast the beef, rare (takes 20 minutes). Hold it in its pan in the sauce it makes.
Check that you have a pasta serving bowl, a colander and serving fork for the pasta and a lovely dish for the cold roast beef. Also a small dish each of horseradish sauce and mustard.
A nice bowl for the arugula salad.
Make the sauce. Refrigerate. (Look for a pretty serving platter)
Check you have the right size pan (small) and dishes for the steak. Make sure you have little dishes for the butter, cream and chopped chives for the baked potato, the right serving ladle and spoons. Check you have a pretty salad bowl.
Wash and refrigerate the little berries and find a pretty bowl for them. Ditto for the chocolates.
Make or buy the dips for the pitta bread. Put them in pretty bowls. Organize dishes for serving, perhaps with nice lacy napkin?
Make sure you have bought the tin foil for the potatoes (and the caviar or lump-fish and butter etc), and have a dish for them, or a wicker basket.
6 Romantic Songs - Artists
Valentines Day Party
On February 14.
Now is the time to enjoy your stress-free Valentines Day.
Time to luxuriate and enjoy a sauna or steam bath at a spa all morning and then at the beauty parlors for hair and nails. Why not? Time to feel beautiful.
Pick up the flowers on the way back home.
Put the flowers in vases
If it isn't on already, put the heating on, light a fire, close the curtains.
Time it so that about one hour before your guest/guests arrive, light the candles, go into the kitchen and organize your dinner.
Put your music on.
Put your slippers on.
Take their hat off.
Have a happy stress-free Valentines Day Dinner party!
(Turn your phone off.)
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Valentine's Day gift ideas that aren't on the store shelf and don't cost much, but make lasting memories.