Aneliese’s February column: Valentine’s dressing of the home

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s no surprise that the name of the game of this month’s questions is ‘romance’. Unfortunately, finding the time for romance is no easy task, especially when you’ve got little ones. Hopefully my answers will help you to realise that you don’t have to spend a fortune to make the most romantic day of the year a special one and inspire you find the time for romance and creativity this Valentine’s Day.

Red roses for Valentine Day

Q: This Valentine’s Day my husband and I will be busy taking care of a demanding new-born instead of heading out for a romantic dinner date. Instead of writing the day off, I’d like to get a little creative by transforming my dining room into a romantic haven that will better resemble the restaurants we used to frequent before our little bundle of joy came along and changed our eating habits forever… Do you have any tips? Sarah from Canonbury

A: You’re in luck Sarah, because dressing homes for special occasions just happens to be one of my specialties. And Valentine’s Day just happens to be one of my favourite times of the year! Here are 4 sizzling tips for you:

  1. Hit the lights. In my opinion, there is no better way to create a romantic vibe than with a handful of candles or the warm glow from a fireplace. Don’t go too overboard with the candles, though, especially if your little ones are curious types.
  2. glass vase gift valentine

  3. Let music do the talking. Music is a great way to set the scene, and it doesn’t cost a penny. Jazz, soul and classical tracks serve as the perfect background music for a romantic date.
  4. Evoke nature. Flowers are a great and simple way of brightening up a room and creating interest, and different flowers have different associated meanings – tulips might take you back to your wedding day while you might not be able to look at a rose without being reminded of magical first date.
  5. Be co-ordinated. Show your partner that you have made an effort by taking some time to think about table arrangements and a colour scheme. Bring out the ‘good’ tableware and polish everything so it’s restaurant grade.

Once you’ve set the scene, set about making yourself look the part by fishing your fanciest frock out of storage and doing your hair and make-up. Getting dressed up can be a fun change, especially if you’re a new mum who’s spent the last few months in tracksuits (we’ve all been there!), and it will do wonders towards transporting you to your favourite restaurant of times past.

Q: We’re undertaking renovations later this year and are consequently in ‘saving mode’, which means that a romantic Valentine’s Day date is sadly off the cards. Do you have any romantic recipes to recommend or ideas for making the night a little bit different to every other night? As we won’t be going out we’ll have the kids with us so preferably something they can get involved in too. Anna from Twickenham

Fragata Millionaire's shortbread Valentine Menu copy

A: The reason why I’m such a sucker for Valentine’s Day is that it represents a great chance to be creative and really dote on your other half. Last year, a friend of mine made the day all about heart-shaped food, from little heart-shaped pancakes for everyone for breakfast to a heart-shaped pizza for dinner and heart-shaped desserts. For me personally, Valentine’s Day is all about meals that your Weight Watchers team leader definitely wouldn’t approve of, and ones which don’t require too much time, effort or washing-up. Here are some great menu ideas I recently stumbled across that just happen to be the perfect accompaniment to a child-friendly DVD and matching blankets.

Q: I’m throwing a Valentine’s Day-themed dinner party on the weekend and am after some suggestions for fun activities to keep the little ones occupied. Laura from Blackheath

When it comes to activities, I like to keep it simple. Fill every inch of a small table with some blank paper, pencils, glue, glitter and other bits and pieces from your local Arts & Crafts store, and tell them to go nuts and make Valentine’s Day cards for each other or for their nearest and dearest at school. When they get sick of colouring, spread the love even further with a tried-and-tested Disney movie like Cinderella or The Little Mermaid.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Aneliese x


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