At this point, you're probably knee-deep in going after your 2017 goals. Between signing up for spin class and working extra hours for that promotion you've been eyeing, date night may have taken a backseat. So when Valentine's Day rolls around, the stakes can begin to feel high.
If you're getting stressed just thinking about it, take a breath. Valentine's Day doesn't have to be expensive or require a meticulously planned itinerary. In fact, if you follow our lead, you don't even need to leave the house. The key is picking a site that has everything you can possibly need without the hefty price tag, like Jet.com, which delivers everything straight to your door. Nesting is the new going out after all.
And to help share the thoughtful touches to make February 14 a real treat for you and your S.O., we rang Nashville-based artist Chelsea Petaja, who's been with her husband for eight years and has a newborn to boot. Ahead, she's sharing her plans for an intimate Valentine's Day at home with her new family—no fancy reservation or babysitter required.
To plan your own charmed night, keep reading for Petaja's tips ahead.
Make Your Meal Thoughtful
Done right, your Valentine's Day meal can be a gift in and of itself. It's the perfect chance to surprise your partner with how well you know them, so think beyond their usual favorite dish. And make it less about showing off your kitchen prowess (we're not giving out points for difficulty)—take the opportunity to reach out to their grandma for a much-loved family recipe. Hunt for tips online to make a dish from wherever they call home, or re-create the meal the two of you shared on your very first date. Search out those hard-to-get ingredients. Find a wine from their hometown or favorite restaurant. Whatever you do, let it be a little tribute to your own love story.
Upgrade Everyday Items to Set the Ambience
Take a moment to think about what will stop the evening from feeling like just another Friday night in. Waiting for the right time to pull out your wedding china? This is it. And since you're not forking out (no pun intended) for dinner at an expensive restaurant, use this as an opportunity to upgrade your everyday dining essentials. Keep in mind that V-Day doesn't have to automatically mean going pink. Go chic, not cheesy. Pick up pieces that will feel right in your home year-round—they're a much better investment than flowers for the table. Here, Petaja went with a neutral color scheme with blue fabric napkins and gold utensils, a welcome addition to her home décor (and a big step up from takeout).
Get away from the mind-set that everything has to look perfect. Instead, take the pressure off by embracing the current appreciation of imperfect, rustic cuisine that really feels hearty and homemade. Petaja made life even easier by ordering serving dishes from Jet.com that would work for both preparation and presentation. A new wood cutting board is the perfect example of practicality aligning with what's on trend: Serving cheese, charcuterie, and roughly torn (not perfectly sliced) bread on the same board you use to prepare it means one less dish to clean up, plus the added bonus of a meal that's extra Insta-worthy.
The Art of Giving
There's always a temptation to splurge and make a grand gesture on Valentine's Day, but a great gift doesn't have to mean an expensive gift. If you already used up your perfect present idea over the holidays and you're currently so busy that it's tempting to just throw money at something extravagant, hold up. It's the thought that counts.
As new parents, finding moments of alone time is more of a struggle than it used to be for Petaja and her husband. Her gift to him—a Bodum coffee maker—is an acknowledgement of their tendency to rush through the moments they used to savor. "Pour-over coffee takes time and feels like a luxury," says Petaja. "[Giving] my husband a morning to himself would be the best gift."
Ditch the Electronics
While a phone-free dinner is an obvious start, continue your effort by staying unplugged after your meal. Fight the temptation to just collapse in front of a movie… Instead, plan something a little different from your regular end-of-the-week routine.
"I'd pick snuggling up under a blanket with a glass of red wine any day," Petaja shares, although she acknowledges it can be a struggle to avoid work- or baby-related topics since she and her husband both work from home. The solution? An old-fashioned board game is the perfect diversion from more mundane conversations (and there's still plenty of opportunity to get cozy in your living room under a snug blanket).
Prepare to Relax
If your domestic bliss tends to ride on the ever-reliable "If I cook, you clean" deal, make a point of releasing your partner from their usual after-dinner obligations so you both can relax. Just be sure to make a conscious effort to clean up as you cook; you'll be surprised by how much less there is to deal with at the end of the night.
And while waking up to a disaster in your kitchen is no one's idea of a good start to the day, remember: The world isn't going to end if you leave the pans to soak and your wine glasses in the sink overnight. Which ties in with the most important piece of advice… Don't worry about scrubbing the kitchen or putting out the recycling—especially if the baby's asleep. Just curl up together and enjoy your Valentine's Day in.
Prices on Jet.com are dynamic and subject to change. Prices quoted are approximate reflections of prices on Jet.com on January 24, 2017.
What will you be cooking for Valentine's Day this year? Tell us in the comments below!