Five ways to make Valentine’s Day memorable

You’re The One That I Want: Sienna Haynes, junior music education and performance double major, and Paul Priddy, senior music performance major. They have been together for three and a half years. 

Colleen Kelly

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and that means one of two things if you’re in a relationship: A) You want to plan something special but can’t think of anything, or B) you hate this consumerist holiday but are going along with it out of love for your significant other. Either way, flowers, candy, dinner and a movie are classic for good reason. If you want to shake up your date night routine, though, here are a few date and gift ideas to make your Valentine’s Day stand out.

Leave Topeka

Break yourself out of your rut in Topeka and spend a couple of hours together somewhere. Drive to a nearby city you don’t normally frequent on date night and be spontaneous. Explore Kansas City’s high energy Power & Light District, or check out Lawrence’s cool downtown scene. Walk around, see the sites and go wherever catches your eye first. You might find a new favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant or bar, stumble into watching some live music or find a new favorite non-chain business. It’s a fun change of pace and an adventure for the both of you. It’s practically zero pressure because you’re both going in blind, and you’ve got a story to tell afterwards.

Follow your sweet tooth

Dinner is great and all, but sometimes you just need to skip straight to dessert. Most of us already use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to gorge on candy and sweets anyway, so why not make that the whole date? Topeka has a great collection of locally owned bakeries, confectionaries and cafes perfect for a lunch date. Grab a bite at local shops like La Petite Bon Bon, Hazel Hill Chocolate, Smallcakes, PTs, Blackbird and Baker’s Dozen. Chain restaurants like Cold Stone Creamery and OrangeLeaf are solid choices, too, if you’d rather not try someplace new on Valentine’s Day. No matter how you slice it, you can’t go wrong with an excuse to indulge together.

Couples’ Night

An advantage to this holiday is that you’re not in it alone. Maybe you don’t necessarily want to get all dressed up and go out on Valentine’s Day. It’s not everyone’s style. Let’s say you don’t want to stay in with dinner and a movie either, though, since you already do that so often. The answer: another couple. Invite over other couple friends for a movie or game night– something fun and relaxed, but probably not a regular part of your social calendar. Have everybody bring something for a potluck and settle in for a fun, low-key night with your significant other and your friends.

Plan a scavenger hunt

What’s fun about this is that it doesn’t necessarily have to cost you a dime, but you’re still getting that other person engaged and having fun. At some point in the day when you know that they’re free, give them a clue to bring them to a new location. Have another clue to the next location waiting there for them. You can incorporate your friends and family to help, you can personally drive them around and take a selfie at each location (think spots that have significance to them or the both of you) for a fun album as a keepsake, or give them the full list of clues so that they meet you at a specific time and location. No matter how it ends, have something planned as a reward at the end. I recommend the both of you eventually ending up someplace for a bite to eat where you can give them a gift, too. This date idea definitely takes some planning and a lot of creativity, but the payoff of the adventure and mystery is worth it.

Get Crafty

This is my personal favorite because it allows you to personalize your gift and make it more memorable. You can go old school and make them a mix CD, maybe use a drawing or photo of the two of you as cover art. Cooking for your significant other is always a sweet gesture, too. You can surprise them with lunch at work or school, or have dinner waiting for them at the end of the day. Cooking together when you normally don’t is also a great date for when you want to stay in. An ambitious option would be to draw, knit or sing them something. If you want to give them art or a public serenade, but you yourself aren’t the best at it, outsource to your friends and collaborate. Odds are, you know at least one music or art major who wouldn’t mind making an extra buck for a good cause. Something homemade you can make as well are beauty products like beard butter or exfoliating face masks. These are both cheap and can be made from items common at Walmart (for both of the full recipes, see below). You could make a whole date of it, too, and make an appointment at Potwin Pottery where you can paint dishware, vases and figurines. No matter what you choose, anything handmade is bound to earn you brownie points.

Beard Butter Recipe


  • 1 tablespoon of beeswax
  • 1.5 teaspoon of shea butter or cocoa butter
  • 1 teaspoon of sweet almond oil
  • 1 teaspoon of argan oil
  • 4 drops of essential oil (complimentary pairs include tea tree and Bergamot, or cedar and rosemary)
  • 1 jar at least 3 oz. in size


  1. Place raw beeswax and shea butter into a pot. This can be messy, so do not use your nicest cookware. Heat them on your stove’s low setting, stirring to aide the process. Continue to mix until thoroughly combined. The mixture should never come to a boil.
  2. Once fully combined, remove the pot from heat and allow to cool for 60 seconds. Begin stirring in each of your oils while the mixture is still in liquid form.
  3. Carefully pour your mixture into your desired jar for storage. Leave it overnight at room temperature to thicken before usage.

Face Mask Recipes:

Honey and Oats Scrub


  • 1/4 cup uncooked oats
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 8 oz. jar


  1. Seal oats into a ziplock bag and break them down with a rolling pin into smaller, finer pieces. Do not break them down so much that they become powder.
  2. Transfer oats to a small, clean bowl, and add in honey and olive oil. Mix together with a spoon or fork. Store in jar and keep at room temperature.

Chocolate Sugar Face Scrub


  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 8 oz. jar


  1. Mix all ingredients together with spoon in a small bowl until smooth.
  2. Store in jar and keep at room temperature.

Blueberry and Honey Scrub 


  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 8 oz. jar


  1. Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor on low setting. Combine until smooth. You want a thick, jelly-like texture, not a runny liquid.
  2. Store in jar and keep at room temperature.