Ah, Valentine’s Day is upon us. The arguably most romantic day of the year. I’m not against it per se. I love a day of romance followed by a romantic dinner à deux. What I’m not too keen on though, is the high-jacking of that day by companies who commercialise what should be a lovely day between two people. I mean, cards for grandparents and school friends, cuddly toys that look like fire hazards, and cheap chocolates wrapped in red foil? Surely that’s not right?
I like the idea of making this day romantic, about a couple (sorry, grandparents!) and about small but meaningful gestures. And of course, I want to make it about a special dinner with a beautifully laid table. And no, there are no red roses here, sorry. I have to be honest, to me, red roses say more ‘hey baby’ than ‘I love you’, so I’ve deliberately left them out.
So, when it comes to my table setting, I like to make it all about the small details. Flowers, check. Bubbly, check. Candles, check. Yes, it’s all there, but in a slightly different way than expected. First the flowers: Choose a variety of pretty and leafy stems in soft colours, flowers with delicate petals and even some dried and faded moss. This is a look that is all about natural and old-fashioned romance that doesn’t try to impress.
If you have flowers with big heads, cut them short and put them into very small vases. The aim here is to have a centrepiece that lets you still see each other and talk. Since there’s (hopefully) only two of you though, you could place a tall vase onto the end of the table for height that won’t get in the way.
You do, of course, need candles, as February evenings are early and cold and candlelight is romantic. I’ve used tea lights here because, like the flowers, they won’t get in the way of a conversation and having several arranged between the flowers looks pretty and unpretentious.
Add tiny details which show you care: the napkins don’t need to be ironed, but tying a little bit of twine around them and slipping a lovely and meaningful message into one is the kind of detail that will be remembered.
The main thing is though, make it about the two people at that table and about a lovely evening. Put some music on, slip into something pretty and have a lengthy conversation over dinner. In my mind, that has nothing to do with chocolates or cuddly toys.