Back in January, I told you about a New York Times piece that described how Americans have begun to elevate experiences over things. They called it “experience consumption.” I also gave you five ideas to start practicing experience consumption for the month and promised to bring you five new ideas at the start of each month for the year.

Well, I’m a day late with February’s ideas, but not too late because this month is dedicated to Valentine’s Day. Forget the expensive jewelry and overpriced flowers that will wilt by next week. Go for a Valentine’s memory that won’t easily fade. The first three are for couples. The last two are for friends or families to do together.

Create a Valentine’s dinner playlist together – Don’t leave it to the last minute. Get together with your special someone, go through both of your music collections, and come up with an evening’s worth of music you can both enjoy. You’ll get to know each others’ music tastes a little better and probably have a little fun mocking your special someone’s MP3 collection.

Cook Valentine’s dinner together – Forget the crowded restaurants with the wait staff that wants to turn their tables quickly and then get home to their own sweethearts. Go shopping together for good, fresh ingredients and cook a meal together. I bought a cookbook years ago called Dinner Dates: A Cookbook for Couples Cooking Together. The book has several meals all planned out and divides the work in a logical manner for the couple. It’s great for those who aren’t used to being together in the kitchen.

If you live in New Jersey, you can take your date to one of the wine trails for the Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail Weekend. Wines will be tasted alongside of sweets from local chocolatiers. It’s an experience that’s less expensive than a dinner out, lasts a lot longer than dinner, and will make a much better impression. If you don’t live in New Jersey, check with the wineries (or breweries) in your area to see if there are any special Valentine’s events.

Contact a local nursing home. Ask when dinner is served. At dinnertime pass out flowers to the ladies, a single stem each will go a long way. Have dinner with the residents and ask them to tell you about their lives. (via suite 101)
If you have lots of photos of your children that have never gone into a photo album, spend Valentine’s Day making albums together. You’ll get a chance to look over the old photos, tell them stories about what was going on in the photos if they don’t remember, and make them feel special as they work on an album about them and their family. Eat heart-shaped cookies and drink hot chocolate as your work on them as Valentine’s Day treats.


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Valentine's experience consumption ideas
Consume less; experience more this Valentine’s Day.