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Stick to the Stylish Basics and Keep Your Valentine’s Day Plans Simple

These are some of our favourite Valentine’s Day ideas ranging from the cliché and traditional, to uniquely contemporary

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By House & Garden | February 4, 2024 | Shopping

Whether you're going out or staying in this Valentine's Day, we've come up with a whole variety of ways make it special for your loved ones, whether that's a partner, flatmate, yourself or the cat.

Order flowers

Order them for your loved one or order them for yourself–either way, it's winter and we could all do with some lovely blooms to brighten things up. But don't just go for the obvious roses, they're not particularly sustainable and there are plenty of beautiful home-grown, seasonal flowers to call on at this time of year.

Embrace a rose theme

While we don't necessarily endorse buying roses themselves on Valentine's Day (see above), we do love a rose-themed gift. Rose scents are having a moment (think candles, bubble bath and hand cream), and we simply adore John Derian's amazing rose decoupage homewares. If you're feeling crafty, why not try making your own paper China rose, or even plant a bare root rose in the garden. Save the real thing for summer, when they're at their best.

Order them for your loved one or order them for yourself–either way, it's winter and we could all do with some lovely blooms to brighten things up. Image via Pexels.

Cook a special meal

Whatever you think of Valentine's Day, it does afford us the chance to push the boat out on the culinary front. Whether with oysters and champagne, steak and chips or a meltingly good chocolate fondant, we have plenty of Valentine's Day dinner ideas that will give you something to do and something wonderful to eat.

… and then lay the table

Even if you're just having a boiled egg and soldiers, or you're making fresh pasta dough for an Italian feast, the simple act of laying the table instantly makes a meal feel like an event. Now is the time to make your celebratory breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner feel special, so consult our gallery of tablescape decor ideas for inspiration.

The simple act of laying the table for Valentine’s Day instantly makes a meal feel like an event. Image via Unsplash.

Decorate the house

What do you mean, you don't own a set of Valentine's Day decorations? They're so much fun! There's a whole world of bunting, garlands, balloons, paper cupids, pompoms, paper flowers and pink candles out there to embrace, so hop to it!

Book one of London's finest eateries

There's no denying that getting a reservation on V-Day is a tricky business, but with our list of the 50 best restaurants in London, there's got to be somewhere that has space. If dinner isn't quite the thing, how about afternoon tea in London? All those little cakes and sandwiches are rather romantic if you ask us.

… or drinkeries

What better place for facilitating romance than a cosy banquette in a dark and elegant cocktail bar? Our round-up of the best cocktail bars in South Africa is full of places your date will be glad you booked. Not into spirits? Try one of our favourite wine bars instead, it'll be a serious upgrade on the local pub.

Get your feelings down on paper

Let's go old school with our communication, it's much more romantic than WhatsApp. We've rounded up a host of charming Valentine's cards to send the apple of your eye, or why not get some pretty notecards or writing paper, your best pen and write to someone you care about? It'll bring them such joy to receive unexpected post.

Why not get some pretty notecards or writing paper, your best pen and write to someone you care about? It'll bring them such joy to receive unexpected post. Image via Unsplash.

Shop for a present

Stuck for what to get for Valentines or Galentines? Try our round-up of gifts for her. When it comes to the art of giving, there's nothing quite so special as a personalised gifts. Granted, you may have missed the boat with these for Valentine's Day, but it's the thought that counts.

… or treat yourself

Why not buy yourself a little something to boost your mood? If you can't rely on someone else to get you something, we say get yourself a lovely scented candle, some spring bulbs, or even a hamper. Whatever takes your fancy, you probably deserve it. Alternatively, consult our cheerful winter decorating ideas for inspiration and then treat yourself to some new pieces to make your home a happier space.

Book a stylish hotel

Even if you're not getting away right now, the promise of a holiday to come is always a delight. We've gathered together the best hotels in SA for a staycation or break among the bright lights, the best family-friendly hotels in the UK if you need somewhere to park the kids, and a selection of glorious country house hotels you must visit.

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, A Belmond Hotel, Oxfordshire, UK. Image via Belmond.

Consider a cottage

This is a time to indulge in romantic whimsy, and what is more romantic than the thought of a holiday in a charming cottage? We searched the listings and have found the loveliest cottages to rent for holidays, perfect for curling up à la Cameron Diaz in The Holiday with the person of your dreams.

Head for Paris

It's a bit of a cliché, yes, but Paris really can be terribly romantic, and fortunately we know our way around the city rather well. Book one of the best hotels in Paris, make your reservation at one of the best restaurants in Paris, and scribble down a list of things to do in Paris, and you'll have yourself a pretty spectacular weekend.

… or at least get out of the City

If you're usually city-bound, an escape from London can be such a tonic, whether à deux with a special someone, in company with a group of friends or solo for a bit of peace and quiet. We've gathered our favourite day or weekend trips from London that are easily accessible, as well as a guide to that most inspiring of counties, Sussex, which is just an hour's ride away on the train and full of possibilities for walks, museums, vineyards and beaches.

Bask in a beautiful interior

Naturally, spending time in an inspiring interior is one of our favourite things to do, and we can see it going down well with most dates. If you're in the market for something grand and spectacular, try one of the UK's most impressive stately homes, like Chatsworth, where Jane Austen's Lizzie finally realised the charms of Mr Darcy. Alternatively, head for one of London's fantastic interiors museums, from modernist heaven at 2 Willow Road to 18th-century grandeur at the Soane Museum.

Naturally, spending time in an inspiring interior is one of our favourite things to do, and we can see it going down well with most dates. Photography by Kensington Leverne.

Embrace candlelight

If there is one thing we can't get enough of at the moment, it's candles. Their twinkling light is the perfect remedy for bleak, gloomy days, instantly imparting a sense of cheer and of course, romance. Scented candles are wonderful, of course, but why not take your candle game up a notch with some beautiful wall sconces. These are lovely additions to your walls at any time of year, but really come into their own when you want to do everything by candlelight.

Buy an interiors-related present

The December/January issue is fresh off the press so there's no better way to fill your weekend than with some escapism via the heavenly houses and gardens within the pages. Alternatively, a membership to The Calico Club is a way to ensure your loved ones have access to the inside world of the magazine, with a number of exclusive events, all year around.

Gift your interiors-loving lover something that speaks to their love for the inner world like stunning interior design book for their bookshelf. Image via HEM.

Stream something stylish

We all need downtime and to switch our minds off from time to time, so there's a lot of Netflix and chilling happening right now. Indulge in the best period dramas you can watch online or follow our recommendations on what to watch if you love interiors for shows and movies that are envy-inducing in their locations.

Take on a paint project

Nothing brings couples together like a little DIY. Always thought you'd like a contrast skirting board or had a penchant for painting the fireplace? Go for it! There are a myriad paint projects you can undertake and finish in a weekend and they are sure to keep you entertained and give you something to smile about. You could go bigger; consult our guide on cosy colour schemes for more of an overhaul that will leave your house a cocoon of comfort.

Create a bath time ritual

A pre-bedtime ritual makes it all the more likely you'll get a good night's sleep, and we think there's no better way than a perfectly prepared bath. Drawing a bath for a loved one (or yourself), is such a treat if you're spending the day at home.

This story originally appeared on House & Garden UK.