Plan ahead, you lovebirds

Column by John Akal
Posted 1/28/21

Every year, since I started writing this column, I make some Valentine’s Day suggestions during the first week in February, but due to the current situation with the usual places either shut down …

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Plan ahead, you lovebirds


Every year, since I started writing this column, I make some Valentine’s Day suggestions during the first week in February, but due to the current situation with the usual places either shut down or operating with reduced capacity and restrictions, I’m putting this out there a little early. It might take a bit more time and creativity to put together a terrific way to celebrate your love.

But, first, my usual ray of sunshine for single people. February 15 is just around the corner. That is what I have always considered the end of the holiday gift buying season which means it’s safe, once again, to start dating somebody new. There’s nothing more awkward than trying to find the right gift and card for someone you just started dating. You are interested in each other but aren’t at the point where mushy love cards or extravagant gifts are appropriate, but also don’t want to look like you don’t really care or are a cheapskate. I have yet to see a greeting card that says something like “I think you’re pretty spiffy.” For many years, I avoided that situation by fencing off November through Valentine’s Day as a no-fly zone for starting a new relationship. Saved me a lot of headaches.

But for those of you who do have someone special in your life, it’s time to plan on doing something fun and romantic to celebrate together.

Valentine’s Day 2021 is a little different. Restaurants are starting to open up with limited capacity, so if you absolutely feel like you need to go out to eat somewhere, you might want to start calling your favorite places and ask if they are going to be open, if they have indoor seating and make a reservation now. I was driving around downtown Golden last night and there are still places that have only outdoor seating in little vinyl igloo type tents. Everyone was bundled up in hats and coats and although it looked like it could be fun for some people, it might not be as romantic as it sounds. A few phone calls might help you plan for the circumstances better.

Also, since the occasion falls on a Sunday this year, a lot of places offer brunch. That might be a better way to go, especially if your favorite romantic restaurant is still doing the outdoor seating thing.

Of course, you don’t have to go out to eat at all. There are a lot of fun things you can do together that don’t involve a restaurant.

First of all, you can cook a romantic dinner at home. But, to make it different than any other night, why not cook dinner together? I know, too many cooks in the kitchen, blah, blah, blah. Get over that for one day. Have fun with it. Each of you can work on different courses. Someone can make dessert, both of you can decorate a cake or cookies. One “fun” idea I ran across was turning it into a game by making score cards to rate each other’s cooking skills. I don’t know who thought of that. It sounds more like a way to start an argument to me. Nothing says “I love you” like telling someone they put too much oregano in the spaghetti sauce. Try making a chocolate fondue. Everybody likes that and the recipe comes with the fondue pot.

The other thing you can do is get outside and go for a hike or bike ride together. It’s healthier, raises those feel good endorphins and kind of makes you want to cuddle together once you get home. Pack some sandwiches, pasta salad, chips or whatever else you like and stop along the way for a picnic. Just don’t try to take one of those crazy selfies by the edge of a cliff or something. ’Nuff said.

Here’s a few other ideas that you can do together. Check out a museum, browse through a local book store and buy each other a special book, take a virtual bartending class and create some new cocktails or put on some tunes and have a dance party in your living room. You don’t need to hire a masseuse to give each other a massage, do you?

Just remember, it’s now what you do, it’s who you are doing it with that counts. Also, they are still selling those heart shaped boxes of chocolate and flowers at the grocery store. Life doesn’t have to be complicated.

John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multi-media production. He can be reached at


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