Valentine’s Day is a big deal in our culture. The world upholds this holiday as a litmus test for true love.
What’s a couple on a budget with a house full of children to do?
We tried a Valentine’s dinner at home and asked our kids to help. Their eager responses surprised us. Years later, what started as a whim has now become – tradition.
If you are like us and want a romantic Valentine’s dinner but do not want to fight the crowds and pay a babysitter – here are five tips on how to bring the romance home on this holiday when everyone else goes out.
1. Mark Your Spot -
I chose our schoolroom. An unlikely place for romance, but it’s off the beaten path and quiet. With bookshelves packed full, in dim light this room has a cozy, library feel. The kids and I clean up ahead of time. Our school table converts to a romantic corner. Tablecloths and candles do wonders! This room, which normally resounds with piano music, theory books astray, pencils strewn and art projects, becomes our venue of choice. The transformation takes imagination. Armed with ideals and determination – the boys and I tackle the room. The outcome is surprising!
2. Choose the Menu -
Last year our son, Josiah, made us filet minion – putting his restaurant experience into practice – our Valentine’s feast was exquisitely gourmet. He even did the shopping! Most years I choose a simple, yet elegant menu. This year we’re having grilled salmon, asparagus, gourmet mashed potatoes, and sourdough bread. Fresh butter and our favorite beverages add richness to the meal. I scour the local bakery for a worthy dessert. No restaurant we can afford compares.
3. Plan for the Children -
When our children were little – we waited to eat a special meal until after the kids were in bed. Now, our youngest is ten and we have no babies in the house – so the kids serve us dinner. This is the fun part! I shop in advance and reserve the day for cooking. Everyone helps with the details – it’s a family event.
Tim and I savor a candlelight dinner - alone. The kids fill our drinks, bring dessert and peek in to get a glimpse. Once we’ve lingered over dinner, they clean up and we retreat to our bedroom. The older ones put the younger ones to bed and lock up the house. We get a night to ourselves!
4. Dust off the China and Iron the Dress -
Presentation sets this meal apart from the ordinary so I dig out our best dishes. With a big family, setting a table for only two feels like playing house. Our dining room table seats 17 and even the simplest meal is a big ordeal. On this night, decorating a small setting feels Martha Steward-ish. We dress for the occasion too – not too fussy – just classy.
5. Set the Atmosphere -
The kids help me download a play list of love songs and loan me their speakers. Oldies music, the kind that makes the kids giggle, takes us back in time. Conversation is easy when we remember. The obvious overwhelms us when we stop and notice. With grateful hearts we soak in the vastness of life together. The Lord’s grace toward us overpowers daily concerns. The night goes by much too fast.
When we brought the romance home on this elusive night, to my surprise, everyone felt a part. Our kids needed to see us celebrate our marriage – we needed it too. Happy parents enjoying each others company is every child’s dream.
I need pampering, like any other woman. Luxurious getaways have highlighted our journey as a couple and kept us sane. But, celebrating Valentine’s Day at home has given our children a glimpse into our private world of love and devotion. The result – priceless.
Be forewarned – quiet dinners at home may be habit-forming!