Instead of trying to beat the crowds on Feb. 14, why not celebrate Valentine's Day at home this year? With a few quick decorating changes, you can turn your home into a sensuous, romantic den of love that will be low on frustration and high on passion.
Pick up prepared meals, place on your best china and throw in some chilled wine and a decadent dessert and you've got an evening of romance that will make you look like a romantic genius.
TAKE IT TO THE KITCHEN
A sensuous way to surprise your Valentine is to go out to dinner and come home to a dessert of chocolate fondue. Dunk marshmallows, fresh strawberries, apple slices and cubes of pound cake into the silky liquid by candlelight.
Of course, you could make a whole meal of fondue using traditional foods like tenderloin steak, cubed French bread, or blanched vegetables followed by a chocolate dessert. For an extra romantic touch, feed each other with the meal!
ROMANCE THE ... BATHROOM
Treat your sweetie to the ultimate Valentine surprise of an in-home couples massage. If you have the space, set up your bedroom or bathroom with candles and put on some soft music. A massage next to the fireplace would also be a great idea. Pay and tip the therapists in advance so they can tiptoe out after your massages.
Have a meal and some champagne ready before the massage and maybe a pair of thick monogrammed robes (restorationhardware.com) your can both slip into to sip bubbly and dine before the massage. Arrive.
A night of passion is a wonderful way to wind up a day of hearts and love. To add sparkle, make some quick changes in your bedroom. It starts with lighting. Add candle sconces on either side of the bed to cast a romantic glow in the room. Thrill your sweetie with red satin sheets (Overstock.com). For about $35, you can create a tactile thrill. If red is too much, try chocolate-colored sheets instead. Add a faux fur throw at the foot of the bed for extra luxury.
Instead of sprinkling rose petals on the bed -- which are tedious to pick up -- opt for a single rose atop a heartfelt note or Valentine. Display a photo of the two of you beside a glowing votive candle.
To envelope your Valentine in a romantic scent, try Tyler Candle's Glamour Wash laundry fragrance in High Maintenance, Diva or Kathina (Amazon.com). Your sheets will be infused with a gorgeous smell instead of the whiff of laundry detergent.
(For more information, contact Kathryn Weber through her Web site, http://www.redlotusletter.com.)