Published: February 6, 2002
Creating a day to remember
Tips on celebrating a Valentine's Day like no
by Kelly Griego
According to Palo Alto resident Bill Rayburn, the ideal Valentine's
Day would unfold like this: "Take the day off, load loved one
and provisions in car, take top down, dress warm, head down Highway
1 to Monterey, find area with view, unload provisions, dine on crab
and shrimp and cheese and grapes and a crisp chardonnay, toast the
view and each other, eye contact is almost constant, talk is unnecessary,
smiles are abundant, kisses are brief but intense."
It is looming. Whether you're ready or not, whether you're coupled
or not, Valentine's Day is just heartbeats away. So why not have
a little fun and be a little creative this year?
Brad Foreman of Stanford says Valentine's Day is not the day for
last-minute spontaneity: "Definitely have an advanced plan,
and don't hide the fact that you've got the day organized. It shows
you care." He suggests making the day suspenseful and exciting
by giving your special someone a series of gifts throughout the
To add a little adventure to all-day gift-giving, send your loved
one on a romantic scavenger hunt -- throughout the house, the neighborhood
or the Bay Area -- with a special gift or message at each spot,
and a clue for the ensuing location. End someplace exciting, like
a romantic restaurant, Golden Gate Park for a picnic, or maybe the
If time -- or weather -- do not permit a romantic excursion along
the coast or to remote destinations, local sites and resources boast
exciting and creative alternatives.
If you and your date like to spice things up in the kitchen, spend
the day together preparing an unforgettable meal. For a sweet twist,
try cooking a four-course meal in which each item on the menu uses
chocolate as an ingredient. Begin with an appetizer of chocolate-covered
nuts or chocolate-covered strawberries. Follow with a salad of mandarin
oranges, raspberries, mangoes, kiwi, pears, slices of red onion
drenched in a chilled vinaigrette made with olive oil, black pepper,
salt, sugar, Tabasco sauce, raspberry vinegar and cinnamon. And,
of course, adorn the salad with chocolate shavings. For the main
course, serve chicken with chocolate-based mole sauce. Finally,
indulge in some sort of decadent chocolate cake, swimming in a warm
And in a nod to that Johnny Depp movie, add a pinch of chili powder
to le chocolat in any or all of the above recipes for a kick
that claims to create an effect of aphrodisiac proportions.
Tired of clichéd gifts of teddy bears and boxed chocolates?
Surprise your Valentine by planting him or her a garden. String
red and pink twinkle lights through the nearby trees or bushes.
Want to get away? Try surprising your loved one with a hot-air balloon
ride. Open a bottle of champagne and toast to each other from skyscraping
heights and drink in the lush view. In the mood to stay in? Try
His and Hers massages -- given by a hired masseuse or by one another
-- in the comfort of your candle-lit house.
Order take-out from your favorite restaurant and enjoy dinner in
an intimate and private setting.
For a really original gift, and an investment in your health, treat
each other to a full body scan, with an extra scan of the heart.
Although pricey, these four minute scans from local scanning companies
can detect early stages of heart disease or tumors and can be life-saving.
Expanding one's circle of sweethearts, fete your children and the
grandparents, too. Remind your children of how much you love them
by spending time with them. Sit down with your kids before Valentine's
Day and help them make handcrafted Valentines for their friends
and classmates. End the fun with some ice cream over brownies.
It is common for elderly people in retirement homes to line-up
for the mail delivery hours in advance. Make their Valentine's Day
extra special and not at all disappointing by showing up with your
children and a plateful (or more) of sweets to share. You can teach
your children valuable lessons in love and giving by making Valentines
for the seniors and preparing the snacks together at home. Visit
the retirement home after -- or, as a special surprise for the kids,
during -- school.
For those of you who do not have a particular "special someone"
on Valentine's Day, tweak the above recipes for Valentine's success
by replacing the "date" ingredient with one, two or however
many friends you wish. Valentine's activities can still make for
a wonderful day filled with loved ones and fun memories.
Rayburn's perfect Valentine's ends as so: "Drive back as sun
is setting, holding hands the whole way. End the evening like all
people in love should end the evening." Well, maybe those details
are best left to you.
E-mail Kelly Griego at email@example.com