Not quite the usual

Impress your partners with some smooth moves and you’ll have them eating out of your hand.

Impress your partners with some smooth moves and you’ll have them eating out of your hand.

Bored of the rigid rituals that dictate dinner, wine and flowers every February 14? Ramona Depares comes up with some alternatives that won’t have you reaching for your sick bag this Valentine’s.

As the (long-suffering) man in my life will tell you, I’m not exactly an enthusiastic believer in Valentine’s Day romantic rituals. While chocolate and flowers (or even better, champagne) are welcome any day of the week, thank you very much, I tend to find the setting aside of a specific day in order to act romantic too staged for my tastes.

The best part? You’re extremely unlikely to bump into any lovesick couples, so you’re guaranteed a total lack of puke factor

Again, much as I love dining out, the chances of finding me having dinner at one of the formal places on this particular day are extremely remote – a take-out and a DVD are more likely to be on the agenda.

Of course, I’m very well aware that not everyone is a party pooper like me and my man (of course he is too: it wouldn’t work otherwise now, would it?). However, this doesn’t necessarily mean I always want to stay in on Valentine’s Day; it’s more that I want to avoid doing what half of Malta is also doing.

Chances are that I’m not the only one wishing this... which is why I’m sharing my top five alternative (let’s call them that for want of a better word) Valentine’s plans with you.

Moonlight picnic Yes I know it sounds a tad too obvious and not that alternative. And that February weather doesn’t always make it possible. However, with some clever planning it can be fun, different and possible without you needing to freeze your fingers off.

First of all, check weather conditions. The slightest bit of rain will ruin everything, unless you man up with a waterproof tent – but that involves quite a bit of hassle, which sort of defeats the whole fuss-free purpose.

So, weather permitting: warn your date well in advance that this is not the night to dress to impress and that warm clothing and comfortable shoes (i.e. trainers instead of stilettos) are essential. Unless you’re the lady planning the evening, of course, in which case your guy is likely to be damn well impressed – particularly when you pull out the beers from your bag.

Of course, munchies and booze are pretty essential for the success rate of this date. As is your MP3 player and a pair of mobile speakers. If you can add a mini telescope for stargazing, you get instant bonus points.

The point behind this option? Getting away from it all. Chilling. Chatting without distractions. I said chatting – get your mind out of the gutter. This is a family newspaper, you know.

Adventure Occassionally, I get an attack of over-zealousness in the adventure department. That was the year when lover boy’s suggestion to spend Valentine’s Day trekking and climbing sounded like the best idea ever. And it was.

This one might not work so well if you’re not somewhat into fitness, or at least willing to be a bit of a daredevil. The idea is to be active, to try something you wouldn’t usually try, so that when you do wind up scoffing chocolates in your jammies, all exhausted by end of day, you will know you have deserved them.

Some ideas would be: joining one of the myriad outdoor adventure companies for a full trekk/climbing session; trying out a new sport (golfing, bowling, horse riding... whatever tickles your fancy really); spending the day at the gym, joining some weird class you’d never have ordinarily tried... You get the picture. The best part of it all? You’re extremely unlikely to bump into any lovesick couples, so you’re guaran­teed a total lack of puke factor.

Movie marathon Of course, some couples go in the extreme opposite direction. Their reaction to my suggestion above is likely to be: “Hey, this is supposed to be all about chilling; why do I have to break my back?” Happily, I do get the lazy years too. The solution: a bona fide movie marathon.

How exactly does this differ from your run-of-the-mill DVD rental and pizza take-out, I hear you ask. How will you convince your date that some effort atually went into the planning of this? Easy – by taking control of the whole activity and coming up with a theme.

I’m aware that just by mentioning the word ‘theme’ I’m going borderline soppy and cheesy here, but bear with me. Presumably, as a couple, you two have your own ‘thing’ (if you don’t, you may as well break up, let’s face it). This can be superhero geekiness, a love for British comedies, musicals, Star Wars... whatever.

Take that ‘thing’ and turn it into the theme of the evening, with a marathon of favourites. Set a kick-off time, prep lots of munchies and transform it into a cinema experience. With the advantage that there will be no one to bother you... wink wink, nudge nudge.

Dancing This one is strictly for the guys who are seriously working hard to impress. Any ladies looking for ideas here, do not go with this one – your man will certainly not appreciate and will view it as a sneaky way to get your own way while pretending to set up a date. It’s called dancing. Yep!

If you’re anything like the typical couple, chances are that you hate dancing, while your more egregious half would give anything for the opportunity of a couple of twirls around the dance floor. This is the day to shine. Book a couple of dan­cing lessons (don’t forget to make sure they’re for beginners!). Choose a genre that gets you at least a teeny bit excited – there are plenty to choose from nowadays – and get on with it.

If you’re really the painfully shy sort, a glass of wine before the lesson kicks off may aid the letting-go process. Follow with tapas and a club and you’ll have a lady with stars in her eyes.

Leave the rock for a day That’s right! Hap­pily, a day trip away from Malta is not that expensive now­adays. Sicily is a fantastic option: grab the ferry or a super-cheap flight.

If you use the ferry, you can take your own car. Otherwise, you can rent a motorino while there – away from the city centres, driving is no big deal. You can do the whole countryside and little trattoria thing, or if you’re city owls, do the whole round of museums, architecture, shopping and lunch.

Since you won’t have a lot of time to spare, plan your day carefully. Fine, leave time to be spontaneous, but at least go armed with an idea of the spots you want to hit. The trick is not to overdo it. Take your time to just sit down and enjoy the sights at leisure, sipping coffee or prosecco or whatever else floats your boat. After all, the idea is to bond. And nothing spells bonding like a good bottle of Sicilian wine, while gazing out at sea.


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