How to Plan a Romantic Weekend Away

This is the final instalment of our blog series, Five Ways to Spoil your Valentine… 
Some of the most romantic weekend getaways I’ve had with my husband have been the ones that have been organised last minute. For example, waking up in the morning and saying ‘shall we go away somewhere this weekend?’ We haven’t been quite as spontaneous since our children came along, since we now have two little people to think about. But planning a romantic weekend away doesn’t have to be hard. And if you can’t find a babysitter, you can always take the kids with you! 

1. Pick a location
The first thing to consider is where you’re going. If you do want to break the bank, then you can consider all-inclusive Valentine’s breaks with a five-star hotel, a five-star meal, and a five-star receipt from your credit card company! Ultimately though, if you want a really memorable weekend, seek out a unique experience. Explore options ‘off the beaten track’ (although not too ‘beaten’ if you appreciate the finer things in life), such as a secluded cabin in the bush, or a cute beach hut that put you close to nature. The more adventurous might consider ‘Glamping’. You could also opt for the bed and breakfast experience with attentive, individual service. Seeking out the less obvious options that are still special means you won’t be fighting with everyone else to make a booking. 

Choosing a location by the beach or bush is a great way to get close to nature and unwind
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2. Work out how to get there
The journey can be half the adventure, especially if you’re planning on driving. Examine the various routes to get to your destination and make a note of points of interest along the way – a charming café or winery to stop at for lunch is a nice way to break the journey. A scenic route may have some nice bushwalks you could check out – the fresh air will reinvigorate you and hopefully combat driver fatigue. 

3. Book accommodation
Obviously the further in advance you book, the more options you’ll have. However, you could get lucky – a last-minute vacancy might become available at your dream hotel, so it’s always worth calling to double check. If you can only book one night at your location, you might consider staying a night in another town on the way to or from your destination. This can break up your trip and give you the chance to do some different activities. 

4. Book dinner and other activities

Another key component to consider for a romantic weekend away is which activities you’re going to do. We suggest some fun, adventurous activities during the day, followed by a quieter, more relaxed evening. This might include a morning beach walk or hike in the bush, followed by an afternoon nap and then a quiet meal at a local restaurant or at your accommodation. Other daytime activities could include: golf, tennis, indoor bowling, a tour of town you’re staying in (by foot or bus), a bike ride, a boat cruise or snorkeling if you’re by the water.  If you don’t fancy cracking a sweat, taking in a movie or art exhibition could be a more subdued activity. 

A leisurely bike ride is a nice way to spend time together
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Whatever you decide to do, the important thing is focusing on each other and feeling like you’re in your own little world. With a little creative thinking, this doesn’t have to be expensive – draw some inspiration from early dates you had together when you first met each other and try to tie each activity to one of these fun dates. This makes it more personal than anything else.

Try not to tire yourselves out too much during the day so you still have some energy for a romantic dinner together in the evening. If you’re eating locally, try to find a restaurant or cuisine that has some meaning. For example, if your first date was a Thai meal together, look for a Thai restaurant (hopefully your first date wasn’t at McDonalds!). 

If your accommodation has cooking facilities, you could prepare and enjoy a lovely meal in (here are some more tips on how to do that). Try to think about what you want to cook before you go away for the weekend so you can remember to take any recipes you need with you. Don’t let grocery shopping take up too much of your day. There are more exciting things to do on Valentine’s Day than wandering around a supermarket. 

It doesn’t matter where you go, or how much money you spend; what is important is that you create a loving atmosphere between the two of you. On your romantic weekend getaway you should feel like you are the only two people who exist. 

Check out our other posts in this series:
How to Plan a Romantic Picnic
How to Plan a Romantic Dinner
How to Plan a Romantic Night In
How to Create a Romantic Treat for your Valentine 

Where was your last romantic getaway? 

How to Create a Romantic Treat for your Valentine

What was the last thoughtful gift you received? It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive – it could be something as simple as some homemade biscuits. 

A friend who came over for dinner recently bought a large bunch of flowers she picked from her garden. Rather than bringing food, another friend that came for morning tea the other day bought a fresh bunch of mixed herbs from her garden. 

These guys obviously know me pretty well, because I LOVE these types of gifts. In fact, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to receive gifts like these. They are thoughtful, useful and meaningful – the ultimate ‘Awesome Gift Trifecta’. 

How can you create this kind of gift experience for your Valentine? We reckon the way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach with food and/or drink. So here are some ideas of how you can personalise some simple and beautiful gifts…

1. Trays
We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to creative ways to present food these days. Any $2 shop has a range of decorative takeaway-style noodle boxes, plastic and glass containers/trays, party bags, etc. that are perfect for gifting home-cooked goodness. Even a coffee mug with a beautiful design could be filled with chocolates, nuts and sweets and wrapped in cellophane as a gift. If you’re feeling thrifty, check out the crockery/kitchenware sections of Op Shops and second hand stores. Imagine a finding an unusual vintage tray or glass bowl and filling it with goodies – two gifts in one! 

We are IN LOVE with these gorgeous Rosanna porcelain trays. They are the perfect size for serving a variety of foods – from cheese and crackers to cupcakes and chocolates. Source your Valentine’s favourite French cheese from your local market and package it up with some crackers or a baguette in cellophane with a matching ribbon. 

2. Coasters
Coasters are a super-versatile gift that no home should be without. Not only do they protect your table surfaces, they also add colour and personality to any table-top. We suggest wrapping a small bottle of drink with each coaster – a beer bottle would be ideal if your recipient likes beer. You could even select a different bottle of beer to go with each coaster so your recipient gets to try some new beers. 

3. Glasses
This set of wine bottle glasses could be filled with a lovely selection of nibbles that go with drinks. Think nuts, dried fruit, gourmet chips/rice snacks, etc. 

4. Ice Bucket 
A beautiful bottle of bubbles or champagne deserves to be beautifully presented. What better way to gift a bottle than with a striking ice bucket you can also use to chill it in. A room-temperature bottle of wine can be chilled very quickly in an ice bucket with a combination of ice and water. 

5. Coffee Cup
I don’t know many people who don’t like coffee. In fact, I know more die-hard coffee fans than people who don’t like coffee. With this in mind, a reuseable coffee cup, such as the KeepCup can make a useful gift for many people. However, a simple coffee cup can be made into a really special gift with the addition of some locally roasted coffee beans. Either package the cup with a bag of coffee, or fill the cup with beans and wrap to pleasantly surprise your recipient when they open the cup…although the amazing smell might give it away! 

Fill this Weights and Measures Mug with roasted coffee beans

The best thing about these types of gifts is that they can be enjoyed on the day, but the recipient also has a memento, such as a tray, coasters, or glasses to remind them of your thoughtful gift. 

Check out our other posts in this series:
How to Plan a Romantic Picnic
How to Plan a Romantic Dinner
How to Plan a Romantic Night In
How to Plan a Romantic Weekend Away

What was the last ‘thoughful gift’ you received?

How to Plan a Romantic Night In

Picture yourself: Relaxing on your couch with a glass of wine in hand and your favourite movie playing. Your Valentine might be giving you a foot massage, or you might simply be soaking your feet in a warm footbath, lightly fragranced with some lavender oil. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? 

Now consider which you would prefer: The above scenario; or a meal out in a noisy, crowded restaurant (probably after struggling to find a car park)? 

Don’t get me wrong – I love a bit of fine dining, but traditionally Valentine’s Day evening is one of the busiest nights of the year for most restaurants. Why fight the crowds when you can go out any other night of the year and have a more peaceful experience? So what’s the alternative? A romantic night in! 

Wine and candles – a great start to a romantic night in
Image from

Five reasons why a romantic night in is fun:

1. It’s peaceful 
Save the fine-dining experience for another night and turn your lounge room into a romantic sanctuary. 

2. It’s family friendly 
Forget trying to book a babysitter and put the kids to bed early for some ‘Mummy and Daddy time’. Plus you can go to bed whenever you’re ready (cause you know the kids will be up as soon as the sun is!).  

3. A home cooked meal is optional
If you fancy the idea of cooking a nice meal, check out our previous post, How to Plan a Romantic Dinner. If you find cooking stressful, keep it simple with some yummy canapés, or fancy cheese with crackers – minimal preparation required!

4. It’s cheap 
The money you save on a fancy meal out can be put towards a nice bottle of champagne and some good quality Belgium chocolates. 

5. It’s personal 
You pick the movie, the drinks, and the pampering. 

Five ways to plan your romantic night in:

1. Pick your movie 
Select a movie that you’ve both wanted to see or a classic that you enjoy watching together. Test the DVD or computer file to ensure it plays through your DVD player or computer. There’s nothing worse than snuggling up ready to watch something, only to find that technology lets you down – it’s a guaranteed passion-killer!

2. Pick your music 
You might prefer to listen to music throughout the evening so you can spend some time together and talk. Or simply use music to set the mood before or after the movie you’re planning on watching. Either way, make a playlist and check that it plays smoothly beforehand. 

3. Select your food 
Plan your meal or prepare a nibbles plate. You could go savoury, sweet, or a combo of both. These beautiful Chocolate Dipped Strawberries are a refreshing option and work well with champagne. Present them on a beautiful plate like these Rosanna Porcelain Trays.

These Rosanna porcelain trays are a magic way of presenting food

I challenge anyone to resist these Chocolate Dipped Strawberries!

4. Select your drinks 
If you’re going for alcoholic drinks, champagne is a great way to start the evening. A nice bottle of red will probably go down well later in the evening when you snuggle up to watch your movie. 

Non-alcoholic drinks could include sparking apple or grape juice served in champagne glasses. Or you could serve virgin cocktails in beautiful cocktail glasses. Try to pick special drinks you don’t have every day, and think of unique ways to present your drinks to make the experience memorable. 

This gorgeous Heart Hottie would be lovely to snuggle up with if Valentine’s Day evening is a bit cold! 

5. Pick your relaxation activity 
I know what you’re thinking – keep it clean please! Think foot/head/back massage, or a foot soak with essential oils like peppermint or lavender. You don’t need a fancy foot spa – a bucket or a large bowl with some warm water might not look as pretty, but has the same effect. 

Light some scented candles or burn some essential oils to add a beautiful aroma to your environment. 

Think of other little props that will enhance your environment:

  • A beautiful bunch of flowers that add colour (and perfume) to the room
  • Scented candles
  • A soft blanket to sit on or cuddle under
  • Cushions if you’re picnicking on the floor. 

Anything that excites your senses by engaging your sight, smell, touch, taste or hearing will add to the relaxing mood you create for your loved one. 

Flowers (especially fragrant roses) add colour and perfume to the room
Image from

Check out our other posts in this series:
How to Plan a Romantic Picnic
How to Plan a Romantic Dinner
How to Create a Romantic Treat for your Valentine
How to Plan a Romantic Weekend Away

What’s your idea of a romantic night in?

How to Plan a Romantic Dinner

Don’t have a dinner reservation for Valentine’s Day? No worries. This next post in our Five Ways to Spoil your Valentine series explores how you can have a romantic and loving Valentine’s Day dinner without having to spend a huge amount of money or time trying to book a restaurant on Valentine’s Day night. Here’s what to do:

1. What to cook

The first and obviously most important thing you should consider is what to cook for your loved one. You could opt for something traditional, such as a pasta dish or an aphrodisiac meal (oysters anyone?) that might include something spicy. Or, you might want to try cooking something special and unique to your relationship – what was the first meal you remember enjoying together? 

Image from

Whatever you do, if you want the night to end on a romantic note, make sure the meal size is sufficient, but not too big. Feeling sluggish and bloated because you’ve over-indulged isn’t sexy, and needing a nap to recover after a huge meal can be a bit of a passion-killer. Here are some great Valentine’s Day recipe ideas… 

Another important component of the meal is the drink. If you’re planning to have wine, try to match it to your meal. Whilst it’s more important that you enjoy what you’re drinking (stick with a sweet white over a full-bodied red if you don’t like dry wine). Generally, delicate bubbles and white wine work well with seafood and white meat like chicken, and red meat dishes benefit from a rich red, like Shiraz. 

Whatever wine you choose, take the time to serve it beautifully. Use a beautiful ice bucket to chill champagne and white wine. 

Chill your white wine and bubbles in a beautiful ice bucket, 

If you’re drinking red, decant it beforehand so it has time to aerate. Here are some tips on decanting

Cantina Master Decanter is a classic decanter for red wine

Most wine stores would be happy to suggest wines to match your menu. And who says you only have to have one type of wine? You could match each course with a different wine. Worried about not finishing an open bottle of wine? Check out this cool product that preserves open bottles of wine… 

Longitude Wine Preserve keeps open bottles of wine fresh for days

2. Presentation is everything

This second thing to consider when planning a home-cooked romantic meal is how to lay the table. You might want to have candles, romantic music, or a certain colour theme to accompany the meal.  For instance, you might have candelabra with three candles in the middle of the table with a red tablecloth. 

You might want to dim the lights, play some romantic music in the background and start the meal with a glass of bubbles, wine or an aperitif such as: vermouth, pastis, gin, or dry sherry with cheese, crackers and pate.  

A beautiful table setting doesn’t have to be complicated – a colourful bouquet of flowers can be a great way of adding colour
 Image from

Of course, your relationship might be completely different. Disco lights, rock music and a takeout meal from your local pizza place might be your favourite way to unwind together. 
Whatever you decide, you need to think about what is appropriate and special for the two of you.

3. Just the two of us

It’s easy to get caught up in the commercial hype of Valentine’s Day and overlook one of the most important aspects of Valentine’s Day, which is how it fits with your relationship as a whole.  Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to reflect on and celebrate what you have accomplished together over the last year, and where you want to be this time next year. 

Cherish the moment – think about how happy you are and consider all the parts of your relationship that make you feel good.  Valentine’s Day is not about airing your differences – it’s about recognising what you have in common. Focus on the happy times and talk about things that you want to do in terms of dreams and visions for the two of you. 

Keep your dinner conversation light, fun and flirty. You can always talk about more serious issues (like who does the dishes) on February 15 – or any other day for that matter.

Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to take a step back and celebrate your appreciation for each other. It’s also a good excuse to treat each other. Have a lovely dessert – even if you’re on a diet.  Have a glass of wine, even though it might give you a headache. Take the time to dream together.

Creme Brulee – a delicious Valentine’s Day dessert option
Image from 

Check out our other posts in this series:
How to Plan a Romantic Picnic
How to Plan a Romantic Night In
How to Create a Romantic Treat for your Valentine
How to Plan a Romantic Weekend Away

What is your favourite Valentine’s Day meal?

How to Plan a Romantic Picnic

If your idea of a romantic Valentine’s Day doesn’t involve bumping elbows with the couple at the next table in a restaurant you had to make a booking for three months ago, read on. Our latest blog series, Five Ways to Spoil your Valentine offers some other activities you can organise to spoil your sweetheart. The first in this series is a romantic picnic. 

The humble picnic is a severely underrated romantic experience, but it’s a great option for Valentine’s Day because:

1. You can personalise it 
Think about some outdoor places you both like to visit. It might simply be your local park, a beautiful park in the centre of town you like to walk around, a hiking route, or a secluded spot by the river. It can be somewhere you enjoy visiting regularly or somewhere new you’d like to visit. 

TIP: If you’ve never been to your chosen location before, plan a quick trip there on your own first to work out the best spot to sit so you don’t need to waste time looking for the ‘perfect spot’ when you arrive. 

2. It shows you care 
A bit of thought goes into planning a picnic. Careful consideration of the venue you go to and food you take demonstrate how much you care about the person you take. 

3. Weather 
In the Southern Hemisphere, Valentine’s Day is in the summer, so generally the weather is pretty good. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you can still plan a picnic outdoors, but have a contingency plan (car, pub, sheltered area) in case the weather turns bad. Sharing a walk with a hot coffee might be the best way to keep warm! 

4. It’s free! 
Apart from the cost of the food and getting there, a picnic doesn’t have to be an expensive experience. 

5. It’s simple
Eating, drinking, and spending time in the great outdoors can be one of the simplest ways to relax and enjoy each other’s company. 

6. It’s great for families 
Our first Valentine’s Day celebration after our eldest daughter was born was a picnic. It was much easier (and cheaper) than getting a baby sitter and we all enjoyed it. Kids of all ages love getting outside. If your kids are going too you might want to select a location close to a park or with an open space so they can kick a ball around. 

7. Picnics offer memorable experiences  
The picnic we went on with our daughter is fondly remembered because of an ambitious bird that decided to steel our baguette (still in plastic bag). My husband relentlessly pursued the bird around trees and under bushes until said baguette was recovered. It still makes me laugh thinking about it. 

What to take: 

1. Food:

If you’re short of time, you can buy all of these items from your local supermarket. If you have time, you might consider making foods like salads, gourmet sandwiches, cupcakes, etc. Here are some of our favourite foods to take on a picnic:

  • Sandwiches
  • Salad – Greek, Caesar, or simple green salad. Be careful using leaf-based salads as these wilt quickly in hot temperatures. Consider grain-based salads (rice, quinoa, couscous, etc.) as well as veggie salad such as potato and roast pumpkin. 
  • Hot roast chicken with fresh bread rolls
  • Cheese (such as brie, camembert, vintage cheddar) and crackers
  • Fruit – grapes, strawberries or a selection of fruits cut up on a fruit platter or in a fruit salad
  • Cake, cupcakes, muffins, or homemade cookies (they don’t dry out as much as cake). 
  • Gourmet meats such as prosciutto, salami, ham, smoked salmon, roast beef/pastrami 
  • Popcorn – the healthy alternative to chips and you can make it at home quickly and cheaply. 
  • Condiments – tomato sauce, mustard, etc. can be decanted into smaller containers that could potentially live in your picnic basket or bag. For something special, grab that jar of pickles or chutney you bought at the local Farmer’s Markets a couple of months ago. This will work well with roast meats and cheeses. 
  • Butter or margarine for bread. 
  • Salt and pepper. 

2. Drink: 

You can go alcoholic or non-alcoholic here…

  • Champagne/bubbles
  • Tea or coffee in a flask
  • Homemade smoothie or healthy juice
  • Wine 
  • Beer
  • Takeaway hot coffee or iced coffee
  • Milkshake 
  • Water – even if you’re drinking coffee and wine it’s important to stay hydrated (especially on hot days). You can jazz if up by adding ice and flavouring it with lemon, lime, mint or watermelon. 
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3. Top 10 Picnic Essentials:

1. Picnic rug – You can pick these up cheaply in most discount department stores (such as Target, Kmart, Big W, etc.) or just take a blanket/large beach towel from home. I leave my picnic rug in the boot of the car now as it’s handy to pull out and sit on whenever we’re outdoors. 
2. Eating utensils (plates and cutlery) – Purchasing a good set of outdoor/picnic gear could be a good investment if you plan to picnic frequently. However, you can pick up sets of disposable plates, cutlery, etc. from most supermarkets. Disposable utensils mean no washing up!
3. Picnic bag/basket – Like the utensils, it might be worth investing in a picnic bag or basket that you can keep stocked for impromptu outdoor fun. Bags (especially totes or backpacks) are more comfortable to carry if you need to walk. 
4. Glasses – quality glasses are essential if you’re planning on enjoying a nice bottle of champagne or wine. Glass (although nice) is not essential as you can get some high quality plastic glasses, such as the Plumm Outdoors glassware rangeJust avoid drinking nice wine out of a plastic tumbler, or even worse – a foam cup.

    5. Ice packs and coolers – Refreezeable ice packs are great for keeping food and drink cool and safe to eat. However, resealable bags filled with ice will do a similar job. A cool bag, for food and drinks (such as the Built Wine Tote) are also a great way to insulate food and drink. Ice packs also act as a ‘cushion’ around food and prevent things from getting squashed or falling over and spilling. 

    6. Sharp knife/scissors – these invariably come in handy for opening packets or slicing meat and bread.
    7. Cutting board – a small plastic cutting board always comes in handy for slicing bread and meat.
    8. Corkscrew – although many bottles have a screw-top these days, one of life’s great frustrations is a lovely bottle of wine with a cork and no corkscrew.
    9. Serviettes – we always keep a pack of tissues and wet-wipes in the car, just in case.
    10. Entertainment – You can simply enjoy each other’s company, but a pack of playing cards or a board game can enhance the experience even more whilst you relax and enjoy your glass of wine. 
    Check out our other posts in this series:
    How to Plan a Romantic Night In
    How to Plan a Romantic Dinner
    How to Create a Romantic Treat for your Valentine
    How to Plan a Romantic Weekend Away

    What is your favourite picnic spot and what foods do you take on a picnic?

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