Michaels: Be original and don’t go to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day

"I have a very unique opinion on taking your loved one out for dinner on the 14 of February. And I say with confidence: just don’t do it." - Graphics Editor / Julia Quennesson

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I implore you to explore unconventional ways to celebrate, rather than going out to a restaurant the day of. 

As someone who has worked in the restaurant industry since I was 16 years old and having worked every Valentine’s Day since, totaling seven years of V-day-themed hosting and serving shifts, I have a very unique opinion on taking your loved one out for dinner on the 14 of February. And I say with confidence: just don’t do it.

Unless, of course, that is all your partner wants for that day, then you should probably do what would make them happiest. 

Now, I have a few reasons why I say this, and it isn’t to say that Valentine’s Day is cliche– but I am a firm believer that if you do want to show your love for someone, it shouldn’t only be for this one special day. You should always share your love and appreciation, which brings me to the first of many reasons. Of course, taking your partner out to dinner is a beautifully kind gesture, but if you plan it for a week before, after, or even two weeks later it will keep that Valentine’s Day spark going for longer especially when there are so many other original options you can plan. 

This is a day for romance, and a day to be close to your loved ones. Planning a picnic is a very personal way to celebrate, especially if it is warm out! You can pack your favorite snacks and sit out in nature, enjoying each other’s company in peace. And if it isn’t warm out, plan an indoor picnic. Your partner may find it silly, but you’d be surprised at how fun this could be. Or stay in to cook dinner (or order take out if you aren’t the best chefs or are super busy that day), put on a movie you haven’t seen, or maybe your favorite movie together. Make cocktails or pour your favorite non-alcoholic beverages, maybe even have some sparkling cider, and snuggle up together in the quiet of your own space. Maybe you’re a couple who loves to adventure or get competitive, go to an arcade, or for a hike near fancy waterfalls. Go to a museum or have a paint date and make art for each other to keep and remember the day. My point is there are so many interesting things to do rather than stuff your faces at a table for two. Do things that are unique to you as a couple. 

Secondly, restaurants on Valentine’s Day are in shambles behind the scenes. Tables upon tables filled with couples, hundreds of tables for two. Reservations pile on quickly and if you haven’t made one, you may be out of luck. Ultimately leaving your partner upset that you didn’t plan ahead, so if a restaurant is your plan definitely make a reservation at least 3 to 4 days in advance. Service may not be as great as it would be on a normal day, kitchens can become backed up easily and it may take longer than usual to get your food, as well as running the risk of higher mistakes across food orders. Servers will be busier than usual as well, catering to each and every couple’s needs to ensure they have a good date night. Now, I don’t know about you– but I would much prefer my server to not be as stressed when taking care of my date night dinner.  

This is not to discredit restaurants either, staff across dining businesses on the day of Valentine’s prepare and put in their utmost efforts to ensure that mistakes won’t happen and that their guests will be happy. However, due to the volume of customers restaurants see on this day, mistakes are bound to happen. Even from experience, I can say that I brought my best on these days, I went above and beyond to accommodate customers. I went to extensive lengths to try and seat walk-ins, even if we were booked full with reservations for the night. People can be grumpy and on edge, couples can expect the most, and challenges are presented on all fronts. 

Valentine’s menu specials are additionally often priced higher than usual menu items, and especially for college students– an expensive dinner date may not be the best to shoot for. Save your money and do the simple, sensual, and personal things that may take your date by surprise. With that note, take the same approach with Valentine’s gifts. Stray away from the expensive necklace or crappy chocolates. Flowers are cheap and are always a V-day must, but write your person a love letter, print your favorite photo together and toss it in a picture frame, get them their favorite candy instead of that chocolate heart, or make a list of your favorite memories together. You don’t have to empty your wallets to show your love. A pen and paper or a cute stuffed animal can mean just as much. 

In a world where Valentine’s Day has become an excuse for partners to only step up their game for one day in the year and everything is commercialized for businesses to make more money, get creative and use your imagination. Spread the love out for more than just a day. And overall, show your appreciation and admiration for the special people in your life in original ways.

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