Valentine’s Day Party Inspiration to Help Couples Feel Sexier…
Why is Valentine’s Day celebrated on February 14th and associated with romantic love? The official explanation is a half-convincing overlapping of religion and popular culture, involving a christian martyr who left a handwritten note and Chaucer thinking it would be a great idea to turn this into a habit for courting couples.
I have another theory: I think the reason we celebrate Valentine’s day on February 14th is that we realized that we desperately needed an excuse for partying halfway through that long and potentially depressive stretch of time that falls between the end of the winter holidays and the several national variations on the spring-break theme. Someone, at some point, must have decided that we could not simply be expected soldier through the sheer misery of February and the potentially lethal boredom of March. However fashionable it might have become to sneer at Valentine’s day celebrations, we know, deep down, that we need that break from our ordinary lives and that we really want to drown in hearts, chocolate, and diamonds. Or do we.
Throwing a Valentine’s Day party might be a great idea…I promise you won’t have to paint your house pink, serve exclusively strawberry-based food, include kittens in any way, shape or form.
Unique Valentine’s Day Party Idea #1 – Dinner in the Dark
Have you heard of multisensory dining? It is one of the latest trends for foodies in fashionable restaurants, from Shangai to Barcelona, and it’s based on the idea that the dining experience can be enhanced if all five senses are equally stimulated. What few remember is that this trend originated from one that was briefly popular about a decade ago: dark dining.
The concept of dark dining works the other way round, with the diners not seeing the food they are about to eat, and therefore it requires a certain degree of trust on their part. Turning this into an unforgettable Valentine’s day treat is easy. While making preparations, be sure to enquire into your guests’ dietary restrictions, but don’t give away anything concerning the evening’s menu. The hosts are the only ones allowed to see the food, which makes the whole experience funnier – if less sexy – for them.
In order to avoid tripping as you are serving your guests, you might want to consider dimming the lights rather than keeping your dining room completely dark: in this case you should ask your guests to wear blindfolds for the duration of the dinner. Take particular care when choosing background music: you will need something suitably relaxing and not intrusive.
There is to be no cutlery, therefore you should prepare recipes that can easily be eaten without it (fruit is surprisingly versatile). The most important rule of a Dinner in the Dark is that no-one is allowed to touch their own food: members of each couple must feed each other. As you might have guessed, such a meal involves a great deal of mutual touching and fumbling and it can be as funny or as sensual as you will make it. What you might not know is that it is also surprisingly moving on an emotional level: in order to feed their partner in the dark, each guest will have to acquaint him or herself with the surroundings and be very aware of the other party’s movements and position at any given time. Unable to see, they will naturally resort to other kinds of physical communication and negotiate trust on a different level than normal, day-to-day interaction.
Unique Valentine’s Day Party Idea #2 – Secret Valentine
Think Secret Santa, only way more complicated and potentially disastrous, which should bring some excitement back into the whole Valentine’s Day ritual. This particular party works better if you stick to couples, unless you can throw a substantial number of single friends into the mixture. The idea is very simple: through a random draw, everyone is assigned a Secret Valentine, for whom they have to buy an appropriate Valentine gift. It’s highly advisable to set a price limit, as the focus is not on getting your Secret Valentine the biggest and most valuable gift of all, but on guessing what particular thing will make that person happy. It is an exercise in friendship, rather than romanticism, but the consequences might be interesting – ranging from sudden jealousy to embarrassment. If your social circle is close-knit enough that you feel comfortable going the proverbial extra mile, you could even set up a swap corner for misjudged gifts. In this case too, overly romantic choices in catering or interior decoration should be avoided: if cake is going to be flung, it had better not be bright red. You’ll never get that off the sofa.
Unique Valentine’s Day Party Idea #3 – Valentine Couples Bake-Off
Ok, maybe not an actual bake-off, unless you own multiple ovens and a massive kitchen. If there’s one thing that organizing team-building events for corporate managers teaches you, is that cooking something together works wonders for mutual understanding and empathy, particularly if you then get to eat what you have cooked and sample what other teams – or, in this case, couples – have managed to produce. Depending on how much room you have available and how many couples you are planning on inviting, it might be reasonable to work on a full menu, so that, at the end of the evening, you will be enjoying a meal that includes different courses, instead of ending up with six cakes and two trays of canapes. This will not be a black-tie occasion, as everyone will be expected to get their hands dirty and muck about with flour and jam. You might also want to invest in a few cheeky aprons and some extra utensils, so that all of your guests can get to work at the same time.
Cliches can be fun, from time to time, but the best thing about cliches is that we get to play with them and break them, and turn them into anti-cliches that can be broken in their turn. . Love, after all, comes in many forms and it is only fair to celebrate it with creativity and a few unusual twists.
Angela Fiore is head of online Marketing at Smarteventi, a Milan-based, internationally-oriented events agency. As a freelance marketing consultant, she helps brands, artists and musicians get their message across to international audiences. She has been known to blog about business, write about music and tweet about food.