February 14, Valentine's Day falls in the middle of winter, but in many parts of the country it's pleasant enough to head outdoors.
Take the picnic basket with you, packed with your best girl or guy's favorite food, beverages and dessert and you'll be surprised how much it is appreciated.
Attention all men: just because ads promise that you can take care of your Valentine's Day obligation by ordering a bouquet of roses or making a reservation at a restaurant doesn't mean that small effort screams "I love you".
We've learned that restaurants jack up prices for Valentine's Day, with many offering what they call special or prix fixe meals to justify the cost. The places are crowded and not necessarily as romantic as advertised.
Who knows better than you what your partner loves?
A picnic meal shows ingenuity, effort and a willingness to spend more time then using a computer mouse and credit card. It is the essence of making someone feel special.
Essentials for a Valentine's Day picnic.
Start with a greeting card. It's a must and fits nicely into the theme of making an effort. Suggestion: A book of poetry might seem corny, but you might be surprised to learn your valentine finds it romantic.
Take a cooler or a basket if you have it. Do not use grocery bags. What about paper or plastic says "You're special"?
Plates, utensils and napkins should be packed, along with something to open bottles and cans.
Don't forget a blanket or tablecloth if the picnic will be on the sand or the ground. Suggestion: Got candles at home? Bring them along if the wind and weather permits.
Beverages both soft and alcoholic are welcome if your location allows for it. If wine is on the picnic menu, don't forget something to remove the cork and cups for drinking.
Food selections should be based on your valentine's favorite items, even if they are off the list of his or her current diet plan.
Unless you've got a way to keep things warm, don't take food that tastes awful when cold or even at room temperature.
Finger food is easier to consume at a picnic. Suggestion: Raid your local Italian deli for antipasto selections along with a nice loaf of bread. Sandwiches are great picnic food. Take along some pickles and olives as garnish. Sushi works too, as long as you have something to mix the wasabi with the soy sauce.
Of course if you like to cook and have the time, anything homemade should earn appreciation points and big ones.
Dessert is essential. Pink frosted cupcakes, heart shaped cookies or a box of chocolates will do the trick. Suggestion: If you have a thermos, some coffee or tea prepared at home would hit the spot and finish off the meal.
Keep the atmosphere focused on your valentine
Valentine's Day is about love and nothing shows love more than personal thought and some planning. It doesn't have to be perfect or expensive.
One last suggestion: Stash the cellphone and/or tablet, unless your are supplying a picnic sound track of some choice tunes or movie viewing is on the picnic list.
In this very busy world of ours, uninterrupted time with a loved one can be the best gift of all.
Happy Valentine's Day to everyone. Image: Wikimedia Commons