Drop the yearly routine of testing out that up-and-coming restaurant or following Cosmo’s Valentine’s hacks—try something new that guarantees alone time with your date: a Valentine’s Day picnic. But before addressing what you need to take, you have to figure out the where. Head over to a secluded park, your favorite sunset viewing spot on the beach or a little alcove off a nature trail. If the weather at your location insists on staying stuck in the 30s, move the date indoors by a fireplace or somewhere with a great view.
Once you’ve chosen your romantic nook, it’s time to pack your Valentine’s Day Picnic basket.
1. Picnic Basics
Every romantic Valentine’s Day picnic needs a red-and-white checkered blanket, that old wicker basket with two flaps and some disposable silverware. Now that you’ve covered the basics, you’ll need to add the Valentine’s Day embellishments to spice up the meal. Find something romantic and cute to top off the setting, like flowers to set in the middle or a candle if you know it won’t be too windy. Go all out with decor to show you put thought into this date.
“Wine is a classic; that’s basically all you need to say,” UF theatre and psychology major Naddya Alicea said. “I’d probably go with a red cabernet, since it goes best with the holidays.” Choosing a bottle of red fits the general V-Day color scheme, but a glass of white works well with the sweet vibes of a Valentine’s Day picnic. Wine helps keep the mood relaxed and loose as long as you don’t sip too much—nobody likes a person who can’t pace. Just don’t forget to bring a corkscrew.
Healthy foods like fruits rarely make it onto the Valentine’s Day picnic menu—mostly because this is one of the few days a year where you can eat as much chocolate as you’d like. But what most people don’t know is that fruits count among some of the most sensual foods. Theme your choices: Go for red or pink-colored berries or (if you have certain expectations after this date) grab some aphrodisiacs like pomegranates, kiwis and cherries.
4. Cheese and Grapes
Cheese ad grapes create the perfect ambiance for a romantic Valentine’s Day picnic. Small, bite-sized foods ensure you don’t have crumbs on the sides of your mouth and don’t ruin your lipstick. You can also easily feed your date cheese cubes and grapes to start getting in the mood. “Cheese is the most important food group for love,” UF theatre major Cory Kennedy said. “Your date will not be hole without a handsome Swiss by your side, pun intended.” Pro-tip: Take a cutting board and a cheese knife—it makes the experience a lot easier than trying to use a paper plate on grass.
5. Loaf of Bread
You can never go wrong with bread—unless your date has some sort of severe gluten allergy—so a loaf to eat along with the wine, grapes and cheese needs to make the menu for your romantic Valentine’s Day picnic. But only if you grab yourself a French baguette. After all, French is the language of love and anything French is automatically more romantic.
6. Heart Shaped Sandwiches
Sandwiches sound repetitive after listing a loaf of bread, but since when are carbs a bad thing? Custom make heart-shaped sandwiches to show your date that you put effort into this meal (and to get rid of the crust that no one ever wants). Fill ‘em whatever meats and cheeses bae enjoys most. While the rest of your meal consists of pastries, desserts and chocolates, you’re going to need real sustenance to keep you going.
Paris knows exactly what it’s when it comes to romance and pastries. “Petit fours are very cute, basically they’re like small decorative cakes,” FSU international affairs and political science major Natalia Fajardo said. “But the pain au chocolat is one of the most essential pastries from the French patisserie.” The French have delivered a wide range of options, like a tart and crispy Tarte au Citron, or a sweet and fluffy éclair. Photogenic Macarons are another bite-sized option that hits the spot every time. Grab two of each flavor to test taste them all.
8. Hot Chocolate with Homemade Marshmallows!
Whether it’s 30 degrees outside, 80 degrees outside or anywhere in between, hot chocolate with marshmallows won’t let you down like that guy who never texted back. Technically, it’s still winter, so even those in the south have an excuse to bust out the hot coco mix. Make the drink beforehand and save it in a thermos. Creating the marshmallow toppers yourself and cutting them into hearts adds to the romance of your Valentine’s Day picnic—and, somehow, marshmallows taste even better when they have shapes.
While hundreds of desserts exist for the perfect romantic meal, remember that sitting on a blanket outdoors can significantly limits your choices. You can no longer make that crème brulee you were dying to try out. Cupcakes, on the other hand, never fail to please. Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and heart sprinkles complete the color scheme and taste divine. You already have a SO—who cares if you pack on a couple pounds now?
10. Chocolate… lots of it.
No, chocolate does not count as “dessert” in this situation. On Feb. 14, chocolate becomes a prized commodity—58 million pounds of it get sold on Valentine’s Day in the U.S. alone. Not only does this blessing from the gods’ smell and taste heavenly, it also significantly increases your dopamine levels—basically increasing your pleasure. And come on…you can literally dip anything into chocolate—like the fruits and the bread and even your finger. “[Chocolate is] smooth and delicious and sets a sweet mood,” UF aerospace and mechanical engineer Michelle Sanchez said. “If I had to choose, I would definitely say dark chocolate: it’s sweet—it doesn’t hurt that it’s good for the heart… cough cough,” Sanchez said. All of these things tell you that you cannot remove chocolate from the equation. If you really want a V-Day to remember, bring a pot of melted chocolate and get wild.