With Valentine’s Day tomorrow, you might be rushing to come up with a unique way to celebrate your relationship. Are you feeling that going out for a fancy dinner has become cliche, or that you’ve already exhausted all of your quirky date ideas? Allow us to assist. Here are 3 of our favorite Valentine’s ideas, and we’re positive you’ve never celebrated quite like this before. If you’re itching to get creative or wow your partner with something unexpected, read on.
A DIY Cacao Ceremony
There’s a reason chocolate has long been considered a romantic food. Aptly named “Fruit of the Gods” in Latin (Theobroma Cacao), strong dark chocolate has several psychoactive effects. It contains anandamide (otherwise known as “the bliss molecule”) and also has properties which help to slow the breakdown of anandamide in your brain, leading to a mild ‘high’. The stimulant theobromine is also present in chocolate, which acts as a vasodilator and literal heart-opener. Theobromine is known to improve mood and produce mild euphoria. Moreover, chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, which promotes attraction, excitement, and giddiness. Although most of the phenylethylamine in chocolate is metabolized before it reaches the central nervous system, some people may show sensitivity to the effects even in small quantities. Finally, a range of other chemicals present in chocolate (including serotonin itself) increase brain levels of serotonin, one of the key neurotransmitters involved in happiness and good mood (Science of Cooking, 2016). In fact, chocolate contains over 1500 chemical compounds–that’s more than wine. With its symphony of flavors and chemical cocktails within, it’s no surprise that chocolate is considered romantic across cultures.
To best unlock the romantic potential of chocolate, host your own do-it-yourself cacao ceremony for two. A cacao ceremony is a chocolate-themed connection-building event (very) loosely inspired by indigenous traditions across Mesoamerica, popularized and brought back by travelers to the region. There are many ways to conduct a cacao ceremony, but the central theme always revolves around drinking a large quantity of very strong hot chocolate in a bid to explore chocolate’s psychoactive effects while connecting with others in an authentic way.
Creating your own cacao-based connection ritual for Valentine’s Day is probably romantic enough to make Allie and Noah from The Notebook jealous. You might sip your hot chocolate while playing truth or dare, take turns sharing memories you love of your time together so far, or play charades. If you want a little extra inspiration, you can try our custom cacao ceremony format for couples:
- Light a few large candles, turn off the lights, and sit across from each other on cushions on the floor with your hot chocolate beside you.
2. Sit in silence or meditate for 3-5 minutes
3. Take turns drawing questions from a hat. You can write the questions yourself, or use our questions (below), designed to get you to connect, admire, and discover new things about each other.
4. Each person has 3 minutes to speak and 3 minutes to listen for each question. When it’s your turn to speak, your task is to share authentically. When it’s your turn to listen, your task is to listen deeply without interrupting.
Cacao Ceremony Question Ideas
-What is one thing you admire about your partner, and why?
-What is a goal you have not yet accomplished in your life, and why haven’t you done it yet?
-What is something you are looking forward to doing together in the future?
-What worries you about the future?
-Share one of your fondest memories of your relationship so far.
-If you could invite 3 famous people (living or dead) to dinner, who would you invite, and why?
-If you could go forward into the future 200 years or back in time 200 years, what would you choose, and why?
-If you could change one thing about yourself, what would you change, and why?
-If you could take on one of your partner’s qualities, which one would you like to have, and why?
-Describe the worst date you’ve ever been on.
Also, here’s how to make hot chocolate strong enough to feel the effects:
-You’ll need 40-50 grams of cacao paste (otherwise known as chocolate liquor) per person. This just means that the chocolate is pure–neither the cocoa solids nor cocoa butter has been extracted; it contains both. Cacao nibs are one example of cacao paste. If you don’t have nibs, Baking chocolate will likely do the trick, or even a few melted-down 85% cacao Lindt chocolate bars. Or, you can use a mix of cocoa butter and cocoa powder in equal quantities.
1. Boil 3-5 cups of water (depending on how thick you want your hot chocolate).
2. Add the 80-100 grams of cacao paste, nibs, or chocolate and continue to boil.
3. Add your choice of sweetener. We recommend silan (date syrup) or brown sugar.
4. Add spices according to preference. Our favorite is a blend of turmeric, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves. If you want to go extra-fancy, add a dash of saffron. Allow to boil for 5-10 more minutes.
5. Remove from heat and add milk, if desired. Serve hot.
Ritualizing connection and utilizing cacao as a social lubricant and mild intoxicant can help set the scene for a magical Valentine’s Day evening. Drink up!
A Bonfire + Primitive Cookout
Aside from a DIY cacao ceremony, few things are more romantic than the sound of a fire crackling in the still night air, the glow of a smiling face illuminated by firelight, or the feeling of your beloved’s arms around you on a cool evening. Picture this: you arrive on a deserted beach or in a secluded forest clearing a couple of hours before the sun goes down. You build a fire for your partner or let them build it for you. When it has burnt down to coals, whomever didn’t build the fire cooks Valentine’s Day dinner over the coals. Pro tip: Make rice, bread, pasta, or your carbohydrate of choice at home first, then pack it. Cook your meat or veg in a wok or pan over the coals.
Want to spice things up? Try our delicious homemade Indian curry recipe. It’s chock full of aphrodisiac spices, cooks beautifully over a fire, and is guaranteed to get your hearts pounding and your blood moving. All quantities are to taste, depending on your preference:
-In a cup, put a few teaspoons of any Indian masala mixture (found in all Indian grocery stores). We recommend either Channa Masala or a combination of Sambar Masala and Chunky Chaat Masala. Add just a few drops of water–enough to stir into a thick paste
-Put pan or wok on the coals and pour a generous amount of oil into the pan
-Add curry paste (above) and allow to simmer in the oil for 30 seconds
-Add fresh chopped ginger and turmeric; stir for 10 seconds
-Add coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and hing (asafoetida)
-Add 1-2 vegetable or chicken bullion cubes
-Add chopped onion and stir constantly for 2-5 minutes
-Add chopped garlic and stir for 1 more minute
-Add your choice of chopped vegetables or meat, according to your preference, and cook until done. We recommend either mixed veg, okra, eggplant, or chicken. Here you can get creative; the base built in the previous steps works with your choice of main course.
Serve over rice, then build up the fire again and watch it crackle while you cuddle.
Relive or remember your favorite moments with a self-made, personalized walking or driving tour of places in which you’ve spent important or memorable moments as a couple (The Editors, 2021). Each partner is responsible for picking 2-3 places, which are to remain a surprise. You will take turns taking one another to the locations on the tour, with the other partner blindfolded until arrival. And yes, if you’re walking, that means guiding your blindfolded partner around. If it’s too far to walk blindfolded, you should blindfold them and spin them around when you’re within about 200 feet of the location, so that they don’t know where you’re going.
Whoever is blindfolded will get 3 guesses as to where they have arrived. If the first guess is incorrect, the other partner may offer 2 hints, based on what the couple has done together in that location. After the third guess the blindfold is removed; then it’s time to spend a few minutes there. Whoever is guiding is responsible for coming up with an activity to do in that location; you might eat or drink something, play a round of your favorite card game, or simply sit in silence. The partner who chose that location should share why they chose it and why it’s a memorable place for them in the context of the relationship.
We hope these Valentine’s ideas will inspire you to do something unique to celebrate the relationship you’ve built and all the good memories you have together. Valentine’s Day is often seen as cheesy and obligatory, but if we choose to, we can make it into something special which nurtures our relationships.
And Speaking of Romance…
Contrary to popular belief, writing a prenup is one of the most romantic things you can do together as a couple. Many people think that a prenup is just a divorce-planning document, but that’s a major misinterpretation. A prenup does help you make a contingency plan for that just-in-case so that you can get it out of your head, onto paper, and in a drawer somewhere gathering dust. To illustrate why the heck this is romantic, consider the following example. Even if you live in a seismically-active region, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience more than the occasional tremor. However, in the event of a truly large and catastrophic earthquake, you’d do well to be prepared by having an evacuation plan, a safe meeting place, and an earthquake bag full of supplies stashed somewhere accessible. Would you want you or your partner to be stranded without supplies or a plan if the two of you were caught unexpectedly in a major earthquake? In the same way, you wouldn’t want yourself or the person you love most in the world to be without a contingency plan in the unlikely event of relationship breakdown. Planning for the what-ifs and mapping out how you would take care of one another’s needs is an act of love.
However, we should also mention that a prenup is SO much more than just a document that spells out what would happen if you ever got divorced. It’s also a tool to help you set expectations and roles for your marriage, plan your financial future together, and discuss how you’d like your married lifestyle together to look. Is that not romantic?! If this is news to you, you’re not alone–most people don’t know about all that writing a prenup can do to help you clarify expectations and make future plans. Here are 3 prenup facts that explain more about why prenups are romantic, how they protect both spouses, and why they’re not only for the rich and famous. If you’re curious about all that a prenup can offer, read our FAQ to learn more or explore the clauses that you might choose to include in your prenup. For a deeper dive, we’d love to welcome you to our podcast all about prenups, estate and financial planning, weddings, and relationships.
The Editors. 2021. 33 Unexpected Valentine’s Day 2022 Date Ideas. Retrieved from: https://www.marieclaire.com/sex-love/news/a13301/unique-valentines-day-date-ideas/
Science of Cooking. 2016. Does Chocolate Contain Drugs? Molecules Found in Chocolate. Retrieved from: https://www.scienceofcooking.com/chocolate/drugs-found-in-chocolate.htm