You and I both know you don’t have anything planned for Valentine’s Day yet. In fact, you forgot it’s that time of year when Hallmark vomits hearts all over everything until your bae mentioned how excited he or she was to give you your Valentine’s Day gift.
Don’t worry, though, you still have time to pull this year’s V-Day off in high style. Just follow this fail-proof guide to convince your sweetheart that you’ve had this planned for weeks in advance.
Step one: Send a love poem or quotation (priceless)
There’s nothing like a sweet text message to let your loved one know you’re thinking about them (and that you’ve remembered this auspicious occasion.) Need some inspiration? BrainyQuote (available on iOS) can help you find the right thing to say. Pick a quote, pick a photograph, and click “send.” Don’t have iOS? No worries, Love Quotes” is a similar app available for Android devices. It’s like those Valentines you used to hand out in elementary school, but classier.
If you really want to go all out, however, you could scrawl that love quote in a handcrafted (or hastily purchased) valentine and send it to your boo via courier (the Postmates app is handy for this and available from iTunes and Google Play.) It has the same grand gesture effect as a singing telegram —minus the embarrassment of actually receiving a singing telegram.
Of course, if you want to get cheesy, apps like Romantic Card Maker provide plenty of tools for creating Valentine’s Day cards.
Step two: Follow up with flowers or chocolate-covered berries ($30-$200)
Once you’ve got the love note sent, follow up with flowers. Or, if you subscribe to the adage that the way to any heart is through the stomach, send chocolate in any of its endorphin-releasing forms. ProFlowers, BloomNation, and a host of other sites let you order gorgeous arrangements and get them delivered at pretty decent prices. Prices vary pretty widely depending on the vase, the flowers, and the day you want the blooms sent. Prices also tend to surge on same-day orders, so just know that you will pay for procrastinating.
When it comes to chocolate-covered berries, Shari’s Berries is a pretty good bet, with prices ranging from $20 and up. You can even order from the iOS or Android app, if you don’t want to use the website. Delivery on V-Day will cost you $10 extra, though. Postmates can help you out, again, if you want to opt for local chocolatiers for your honeybun.
Step three: Reserve a table or plan a romantic dinner at home ($40-$100)
Now that you’ve shelled out a bunch of money to ease your guilty conscious, it’s time to think about the main event. If you can’t cook to save your life, you’ve got two options: eat out or hire a professional to cook for you. OpenTable, Reserve, or Table 8 (if you’re in California) can help you find the perfect spot to dine out. However, tables can be hard to come by this close to Valentine’s day. Alternatively, you could check out what’s looking good on FourSquare or Yelp, and go through place by place to see if they’ve got any tables left.
Failing that, stay in but leave the cooking to a pro. HireAChef, Cloud9Living, and BigCityChefs can help you find someone but, unsurprisingly, hiring a chef for the night isn’t cheap. Prices can run as high as $500 for a romantic dinner for two but, that’s a small price to pay to keep your sweetheart happy, right? You know what they say: Hell hath no fury like a valentine forgotten.
Alternatively, you can always make a nice, home-cooked meal for your darling. Whether you’re an aficionado in the kitchen or not, if you can at least follow a recipe, this could be the way to go. You’ll avoid the crowds, eliminate the need to tip the waiter, and pay too much for drinks from the bar. Even better, regardless how simple or fancy your fare, the fact that you went through the effort to make it yourself is an arrow to the heart for most valentines.
Epicurious, the Food Network, and TheKitchn will help you find the best recipes and tell you how to make them. You can also use shopping apps such as Instacart or AmazonFresh to get the ingredients you need delivered to your door.
Ambiance is key here, and a little can go a long way— think Lady and the Tramp. A tablecloth, some candles, low lights, and maybe a flower or two in a vase is all it takes to transform your everyday table into an intimate setting for two. Remember you’re trying to make it seem like you had this planned all along, not like you just forgot and couldn’t get a reservation somewhere nice.