Well, folks, it’s here again. The most potentially awkward of holidays is upon us. Valentine’s Day has always struck me as a strange holiday. You’re celebrating your significant other (or lamenting your lack thereof) while every other couple in the country does the exact same thing. It’s not exactly romantic.
Lucky for you, though, that’s where we come in. To save you from a bad Valentine’s Day date — which is exponentially worse than a bad date on any other day of the year — we’ve come up with a list of suggestions that will earn you bonus points for being unique, if nothing else. We’ve even provided conversation topics in case things are feeling really stale. Whether you’ve just swiped right or you’ve basically mated for life, we’ve got you covered.
Disclaimer: I am not a relationship expert. Honestly, I’m probably spending this Valentine’s Day on my couch with a bag of Cheetos in one hand and the remote in the other. Don’t blame me if your date goes terribly.
We just swiped right
OK, so let’s just get this out of the way: It’s a little weird that you’ve chosen to meet each other in person for the first time on Valentine’s Day. But, for reasons unknown, that’s what you’ve done, and we’ll accommodate that.
Your best bet in this scenario is to do something that’s going to require participation from you. Maybe that’s games. Maybe it’s concerts. Aim for activities that will allow you to concentrate on something fun, as well as each other. Don’t skip out on conversation all together, but it might be better to keep this light given that you’ve chosen to have a first date on such a high-pressure holiday.
(Also, try not to get axe-murdered on Valentine’s Day. You know the important details, right? Last names, jobs, hometowns, etc. Please tell us that you know this stuff and that someone close to you knows where you are. With great mobile romance capabilities come great responsibilities.)
You should try:
▪ Watching “The Boy Next Door” with the Cinemasochists at 7:30 p.m. at the Buffalo Room at 817 Westport Road. You’ll get to watch the Jennifer Lopez thriller, see a live riff and maybe order dinner and drinks while you do it. Cover is just $5.
▪ Attending a Valentine’s Day Murder Mystery Dinner at 6:30 p.m. at the Belvoir Winery at 1325 Odd Fellows Road in Liberty. Nothing puts people in the mood (wink wink) like being immersed in a classic whodunit. For $55, you’ll get dinner and quite the show. For more information, see northlandtrc.org.
▪ Trying your hand at Valentine’s Trivia Night at Hamburger Mary’s, 3700 Broadway, at 7 p.m. It’s $50 per team, and proceeds benefit the KC Anti-Violence Project. You know there’s no way you can be bored at Hamburger Mary’s.
We’ve been on a few dates
You’ve hung out with this person. You know them. You’re attracted to them. You’re both acting like this is just a casual date, but let’s be real: You chose to go out with them on Valentine’s Day, when you could have just said you were swamped at work. Or sick. You definitely have a giant crush.
With that in mind, then, maybe it’s time to kick this little romance up a notch. This is a good opportunity to really get to know this person and decide if this is someone you could eventually see yourself with.
Try to have dinner in a relatively quiet, casual setting. You want to have real conversation, but there’s not necessarily a need for a super fancy restaurant. Your goal here is to focus primarily on each other, as intimidating as that may sound.
If this is going well, it may be time to feel out where the other person stands on issues that matter to you: politics, religion, sports, Beyonce’s pregnancy. If a topic is near and dear to your heart, you’ll eventually want to know where the other person stands on it. (Note: Try to let your freak flag fly all the way. You’re feeling each other out, not trying to get a lifetime commitment.)
If dinner goes well, do something lighthearted and fun afterward. You’ve been serious enough on this Valentine’s Day; now it’s time to stop taking yourselves so seriously.
You should try:
▪ The Heartbreakers Ball, featuring Clark Rooseveltte & the Rose Garden, and DJ Maxx Gruv at the Riot Room, 4048 Broadway. It starts at 8, it’s an excuse to get dressy, and the $10 price of admission includes snacks.
▪ The Stockyards Sounds Concert Series with Folk Alliance International at the Stockyards Brewing Co., 1600 Genessee St., at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door. If you’re into that, you can check out the Kansas City Folk Festival on Feb. 19. (That’s two date suggestions in one week. You’re welcome.) For more information, check out kcfolkfest.org.
I want to make this exclusive
OK, it’s game time. You’re on a journey here. This Valentine’s Day, you can’t mess around. Basically, you have to plan a date worthy of a one-on-one on “The Bachelor,” and your partner has to realize (if they haven’t already) that you are here for the right reasons. No pressure. You don’t need suggestions for conversation topics, because you already know the conversation you want to have. Will you accept this rose?
This stage of the relationship can be so very cringe-worthy, but it’s time to put yourself out there and plan a romantic date right. Fortunately, some activities lend themselves to being adorable.
You should try:
▪ Ice skating at the Sweetheart Skate at 7 p.m. at the Line Creek Ice Arena at 5940 N.W. Waukomis Drive. This is guaranteed to be adorable as long as neither of you hurts yourselves. But hey, it’ll just be a trial in catching each other when you fall. (Aww.) Tickets are $6 each, and more information can be found at kcparks.org.
▪ Dinner at the Vineyards Restaurant in Weston. You’ll get so many brownie points if you roadtrip to the quaint antebellum home at 505 Spring St. for an upscale dinner. Make sure to have a good playlist for the drive, and maybe check into Airbnb reservations if you think it might be time for the fantasy suite.
We’ve been together for a few months … or has it been a year?
This stage of the relationship can be unpredictable. Some people may be practically engaged, while others may still not be guaranteed a prompt text message back. What can we say? Love is complicated.
Regardless of which scenario applies to you, cooking dinner together is a good opportunity for some sensual, low-pressure bonding. Decide on a recipe together beforehand and go grocery shopping together because, let’s be real, being one of those adorable couples at the Sunfresh in Westport is #relationshipgoals. Be sure to grab some wine.
You should try:
▪ Instead of hitting up Pinterest for a recipe and praying that whoever wrote it was somewhat thorough, try “The New Kansas Cookbook” by Frank and Jayni Carey, a couple from Lawrence. It’s local, plus it features classic Midwestern recipes with twists. Something old, something new.
We’re basically mated for life
First of all, let me just say congratulations. You’ve made it to the promised land. You know who you want to spend not only this Valentine’s Day with, but all the Valentine’s Days to come. That’s big. It also gives you a lot of leeway in planning your big date. But just because you’re OK with spending this mushy holiday the same way I will — Cheetos and Netflix — doesn’t mean your partner feels the same.
Variety is the spice of life — and sometimes you need a little spice after you’ve been in the same relationship for, like, ever. If that’s what you’re looking for, we recommend going somewhere you’ve never been before. The best way to keep things from feeling stale is to try something new, right?
You should try:
▪ Catching 2017 Grammy nominee Robbie Fulks at Knuckleheads Saloon, 2715 Rochester St. To purchase tickets, which are $15 each, go to knuckleheadskc.com. Never been there before? Billy Bob Thornton has.