Love during a pandemic is challenging.
Last year for Valentine's Day, you and your date might have cozied up in a corner booth at a dimly lit restaurant, or attended a movie or concert along with a crowd of other humans inside a closed space. You might have held hands or kissed -- two activities strictly verboten in pandemic land, if you're not a part of the same household. You probably breathed on each other at some point.
Welcome to 2021, where physical affection and close quarters are just like they were in elementary school: gross.
If you and your socially distanced significant other are trying to figure out how to spend a day that's supposed to be about togetherness from across the chasm of an internet connection, you're not alone in this task. Dating app Bumble found that 90% of its daters were unsure about what to do for Valentine's Day this year.
Fortunately, there are lots of activities you can share, even if you can't be in the same room.
From online museum tours to a movie night, you can still create a fun and memorable Valentine's Day in 2021. Here are nine ideas to get you planning.
Museum dates are a classic. In lieu of going to one in real life, you can find various tours on YouTube of museums around the world. There's one series, for example, that's essentially a slideshow of famous works from the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.
Elsewhere on YouTube, you can find a walking tour of the Louvre in Paris, France. Google Arts and Culture also offers virtual tours of sorts from famous museums. Depending on what each museum offers, you can scroll through collections the way you would your own Google photos, or check out the online exhibits, which tend to offer some more background information. For your date, you can try to synchronize or screen-share, so you're looking at the same art at the same time.
Don't forget to browse spots like Eventbrite or Facebook's events page for specific tours, classes or other online activities on offer during Valentine's. On Eventbrite, you can find virtual wine tasting sessions and a performance of Romeo & Juliet. Bumble and AirBnb, for example, will let you book tickets for an online jazz club in London, or take a Flamenco dance lesson from Seville, Spain. There might be virtual events offered by local restaurants and businesses, as well.
Once again turning to YouTube (or any other platform that might offer music), you can find full-length concerts from bands and artists. Whether it's Queen at Wembley Stadium in 1986, Radiohead at Lollapalooza in 2016 or Billie Eilish at Music Midtown in 2019, there's quite a lot out there. And if you don't want to commit to a whole hours-long concert, you could head to somewhere like NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series, where acts play shorter sets at NPR Music's headquarters in Washington. Watch together and chat away via phone or video chat.
The more creative-minded out there can plan an art project to do together over video chat. Using whatever art supplies you have on hand, decide on something to draw or paint. This could be a landmark you both know or an image you found on Google, or you could even just print off a coloring page -- Crayola, for example, offers free printable pages for adults.
Spend the next hour, or however long, working on it while you chat. At the end, you can show each other the results of your craft time.
Want to see how well you solve problems together? Try a virtual escape room. An escape room, if you haven't tried one, is an immersive problem-solving scenario -- you're literally in a room trying to follow clues, usually tied to a fictional situation, in a limited amount of time. You can find some virtual translations online.
For example, the Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, Pennsylvania, created a Harry Potter-themed room using Google Docs. If you're looking for a bit more of a challenge, The Escape Game also offers virtual escape rooms. Currently, there's a multipart game called The Heist, about an art thief, that you can get bundled for $17, or separately for $10.
Services like Teleparty -- a Chrome extension that lets you sync up your streaming service viewing and chat on the side -- have gotten a lot of attention since the days of social distancing began. Might as well make a date out of it. Though Teleparty only supports text chat, for a more immediate experience you can also talk on the phone or on a platform like Discord while you watch. In case that sounds like low-hanging fruit, date-wise, OkCupid had more than 30,000 respondents indicate that watching a movie or TV show together is their ideal virtual date.
If you don't mind someone watching you eat via a video call, you can stage a dinner or drinks date. Put on some decent clothes, order food or eat whatever you've cooked, and carry on with the usual over-dinner banter you might have at a restaurant or bar. Uber Eats even introduces a feature called Share This Delivery, which lets you order food for someone and share the tracking link with them. If you want to bulk up the experience a bit, you can find a recipe for a meal or just a cocktail and prepare it at the same time while you chat.
There are plenty of options for games to play together online, particularly if one or both of you play video games already. CNET's Alison DeNisco Rayome compiled a list of games great for quarantine, ranging from Animal Crossing (a good choice for a low-key hangout), to Tabletopia and Table Top Simulator (if you're into board games), to Jackbox Games, which you could screen-share from one device. Jackbox Games like Fibbage, Blather, and Trivia Murder Party are particularly suited for two players.
If you aren't one of the legions of folks visiting friends' islands in Animal Crossing, you can resort to simple games and puzzles. Remember playing Battleship as a kid? All you need is a pen and paper (graph paper, if you have it). There's also a pretty simple online version you can try. Or you can work on a crossword puzzle together. The Washington Post, for example, lets you send a link to a crossword puzzle to a friend so you can work on the same one at the same time, for free. The New Yorker also has a "partner mode," if you have a subscription.
While not actually virtual, don't forget that you can still mail your significant other an old fashioned Valentine's card. Or, a love letter, even. In a chaotic world, taking the time to write a message to someone is a lovely and personal gesture.
CNET : Erin Carson
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