The XX Factor

Valentine's Day: The Art of Putting in Just the Right Amount of Effort

Three sure-fire techniques to try this V-Day, courtesy of our in-house female.

Who said coziness and sexiness were mutually exclusive?

Gentlemen, file this under “things you already know but bear repeating this time of year.” We want you to make a small fuss about Valentine’s Day.  Here’s how to do it with taste.

Make dinner.
There’s a reason we find Anthony Bourdain so sexy, and it’s not just that thatch of perfect salt-and-pepper hair. Guys who cook convey an instant sense of capability and culture, plus wielding a knife reminds us that you’re good with your hands. Don’t go overboard—Ina Garten’s perfect roast chicken or the world’s easiest rack of lamb are a good start, then add a simply-dressed arugula salad and a seriously indulgent dessert from the bakery. Open the best bottle of red wine you can afford, and share a laugh over the couples who are paying double to enjoy themselves half as much in a totally un-intimate restaurant.

Get a thoughtful—not extravagant—gift.
Diamonds are for milestone anniversaries and major shoes and handbags are for birthdays. Valentine’s Day is all about a small token that says, “Yes, I’ve been listening”, and “Yes, I know you better than you know yourself.” Some of the best presents my husband has ever given me have come on Valentine’s Day—a signed first edition of one of the books closest to my heart, The Bell Jar; a month of Bikram yoga classes; the perfect jean jacket to replace the a treasured one I’d lost.

Set the mood. Subtly, please…
Step away from the scented candles and Barry White. Cue up a soundtrack that’s just romantic enough—“The Lengths” by The Black Keys; “Dream” by Alice Smith; anything by John Coltrane. Encourage cozy pajamas over cheesy lingerie. Tell her she is gorgeous, especially in cozy pajamas over cheesy lingerie. Never, ever ask of your evening planning skills, “Did I do a good job? Are you happy? Did you like it?” Trust us, you’ll know.

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