Tag Archives: creative date ideas

Valentine’s day gift ideas for her: The Box of Love

–By guest author Rod Johnson

Are you looking for the perfect way to say I love you at Valentine’s Day?  The “Box of Love” is something I have been doing for my wife for the past 10 years or so.

Box of Love

What is the “Box of Love” you ask.

The “Box of Love” is a small box or tin that contains 12 small envelopes.  There is one for each month.  Each envelope contains a date to go on or something to do for that month.  The idea is to open one each month on the first of the month, and find out what is on the agenda for that month.

As I said my wife and I have been doing this for the past 10 years or so and we have really enjoyed it.  We have created many memories.  The nice thing is that the box makes a great place to store ticket stubs and other mementos so that we can go back later and reminisce.

What we do is to sit down after the date, usually over a cup of coffee, and write on the back of the card. We describe what we did, what we ate if we had dinner, that sort of thing.  We call it signing off the card.  Then we put the card along with any ticket stubs etc. into the box for later.  Many times we will buy a coffee cup or other souvenir to commemorate the occasion.

It is not always the most expensive things that are the best.  Sometimes just a walk together or a picnic means more than a night out on the town or a trip.  The important thing is to spend time together.  When I think up the activities, I look for things that we wouldn’t otherwise do.  For example, visit a local tourist attraction.   Have you ever noticed how you never do any of the touristy things until someone visits from out-of-town?   Well this is your chance to do some of them together.

How can I create a “Box of Love”?

First get yourself a nice box or something to put the cards in.  Then get some business card stock at an office supply store.  Get the kind that has perforations so you can break it apart.  Then put your “dates” on the cards print them out and break them into the individual cards.  I like to make it into a little rhyme like:

“The leaves are turning different colors, they won’t be here long.
Let’s take a drive down to the coast, to miss it would be wrong.”

Once you have your cards, make or buy some business card sized envelopes (sometimes referred to as professional, mini, or florist envelopes).  These can be a little hard to find, and of course you can’t really print on them, so I have always made them.  Just print out pieces of paper with the month names on them, and cut them roughly into the shape of an envelope.  Fold the paper around the business card and seal it with a piece of tape.

Finally, put the cards in the box and when you give it to your sweetheart, get ready for the love.

What if I don’t have time to put it all together?

If you are local (in the Portland Oregon area) you can pick up a Box of Love Kit in the form of a heart shaped tin for $19.95 at the McKenzie Books store on Millikan Way.  If you are not in the area, you can order one online at boxOfLoveStore.com.

How to create a romantic dinner date at home

Recently my wife and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. It was my year to plan (she plans the even years, and I plan the odd years).  With three kids, two of which are still in diapers, getting a sitter is both challenging and expensive.  So, this year instead of going out, I decided to try and create a little magic in our living room after the kids went to bed.  Here is a picture I took of our anniversary dinner, right before I escorted her into the room. Think also of some soft piano music playing in the background:

Now I know the ladies are thinking, “this is great and easy to do”.  And, the guys out there are probably thinking, “impossible”. Well, you’re in luck, because I’m going to give you the step by step guide to creating some romantic magic at home (and you don’t even have to tell your significant other that you read how to do this online).  To take it a step further, why not surprise your significant other with this?

Let’s start with your shopping list. Keep in mind that you may already have some of this stuff around the house, or you could borrow from a friend, or you may find most of it at your local thrift store.  I think it is definitely feasible to keep it a cheap date night but at the same time very special and romantic:

  1. A round table with two chairs. Yes, you could do this with a square table, but round is a nicer touch I think.
  2. A round table cloth and some cloth napkins.
  3. Two wine glasses or champagne flutes (the flute style is shown in the photo).
  4. Piano songs (12-15 songs should do). This could be done via an iPod if you have a way to put your iPod on speakers. Or, a portable CD boombox will work just fine. Whichever way you go, make sure to put the music on REPEAT.
  5. If this is for something special, such as an anniversary, be sure to pick up a card and gift while you are out as well. Flowers perhaps too?
  6. Wine or champagne. Recommendation for Oregonians: If you are ever in Seaside, Oregon, pickup a couple bottles of Centive Moscato D’asti from The Wine Haus. It is a really great lightly carbonated sweet white wine.
  7. Corkscrew to open the wine, if you don’t already own one.
  8. Candle holder and candle(s).
  9. Card stock or some other heavy paper.
  10. Optional: special plates and special flatware to make the evening even more special. I went with two dinner plates, plus two smaller salad plates.  Also, matching bowls for dessert can work great too.

Putting it all together:

  • The food–OK, first I’m going to admit that I cheated a bit and ordered the ravioli and bread sticks from Olive Garden. I drove and picked it up a couple hours before our dinner date started. But, the salad and dessert I made myself. Don’t forget about dessert! Anything with chocolate is usually a good choice for dessert.
  • If you purchased flatware, glasses, and/or plates, be sure to wash them. This can be done a day or two ahead of time.
  • Sign the card and wrap the gift (if applicable). Again, do this a few days ahead of time and cross it off your list!
  • Make a menu. Remember that card stock paper from #9 above? Type out the night’s menu (and activities?)  and print it out. Put two copies out on the table.
  • Choose a napkin fold for your cloth napkins and learn how to do it.
  • The finish line: Put out the table cloth, folded napkins, flatware, glasses, and menu. Light the candle(s), pull the cork, fill the glasses, put dinner on the table, and get the music playing softly. Escort him or her into the room for a surprise and a special evening together.

Have other ideas for how to create a romantic dinner date at home? Be sure to leave a comment! Thank you.