A Romantic Night In: Valentine's Day at Home

By Kyrie Collins, publisher of Macaroni KID Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree, Colo. February 3, 2024

With Valentine's Day falling on a weekday this year, you may have trouble getting away for a night out or even just out to a restaurant. With a little bit of preparation and planning, you can have a lovely and romantic night in with your Valentine.

The kids

If you've got little ones in the house, they probably already have a fairly early bedtime. Perfect! Just put them to bed at their regular time and start your evening after they've fallen asleep. For older kids, have them choose a movie or two and set them up with snacks and a show in another room. Tell them you'll ground them from video games til summer if they interrupt you. Or, if you're lucky enough to have relatives nearby, see if they'll take your kids for a few hours (or overnight!).

The prep

One of the benefits of staying in is not having to wear uncomfortable shoes all night, but my yoga pants don't exactly say "hot momma." So I try to find a happy medium. Shave those legs. Trim that mustache. Pluck that nose hair. And THEN put on the comfy pants. Maybe just choose a nice stain-free shirt instead of that frumpy sweatshirt.

The mood

Candles, flowers, and no visible toys are all you really need to set the mood. 

The meal

Does your Valentine have a favorite dish that doesn't get made very often because it's too spicy for the kids/ takes too long to prepare/ has too many expensive ingredients for a family meal? Now is the time to dig out that recipe and make it just for the two of you. 

Don't have a favorite in mind? It's hard to go wrong with a couple of steaks. My hubby makes the very best marinade ever:

Scott's awesome steak marinade


  • 1-1/2 cups olive oil
  • 4-1/2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Montreal steak seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic-pepper blend


Combine all ingredients. Pour over steak, cover, and chill at least three hours to overnight in the refrigerator. Grill or broil steak to your liking (just know that anything over medium-rare is considered "charcoal" in many parts of the country).

Keep the rest of the dinner light with a nice side salad and a glass of sparkling cider or your favorite wine. For dessert, I can't think of anything better than chocolate. Pick up something decadent from the local bakery or try this slow cooker recipe:

Slow-cooker molten mocha cake


  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Spray a 3-quart slow cooker with cooking spray (you can use a larger slow cooker; just add 30 minutes to 1 hour of cooking time). Stir together all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, or until set around the edges. Turn off the slow cooker and let stand for 30 minutes (keep covered). Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

The movie

So. Many. Choices!!! We bet one of these will make you swoon while you snuggle up on the couch:

Cool classics

  1. An Affair to Remember (1957) starring Cary Grant & Deborah Kerr
  2. Casablanca (1942) starring Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman
  3. Gone with the Wind (1939) starring Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh
  4. Roman Holiday (1953) starring Gregory Peck & Audrey Hepburn
  5. When Harry Met Sally (1989) starring Billy Crystal & Meg Ryan

Favorite rom-coms

  1. Ever After (1998) starring Dougray Scott & Drew Barrymore
  2. Never Been Kissed (1999) starring Michael Vartan & Drew Barrymore
  3. The Proposal (2009) starring Ryan Reynolds & Sandra Bullock
  4. Sleepless in Seattle (1993) starring Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan
  5. You've Got Mail (1998) starring Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan

Top tear-jerkers

  1. City of Angels (1998) starring Nicholas Cage & Meg Ryan
  2. The Notebook (2004) starring Ryan Gosling & Rachel McAdams
  3. Sweet November (2001) starring Keanu Reeves & Charlize Theron
  4. Titanic (1997) starring Leonardo DiCaprio & Kate Winslet
  5. A Walk to Remember (2002) starring Shane West & Mandy Moore

Other date night favorites

  1. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) starring Heath Ledger & Julia Stiles
  2. Benny & Joon (1993) starring Johnny Depp & Mary Stuart Masterson
  3. Friends with Benefits (2011) starring Justin Timberlake & Mila Kunis
  4. The Princess Bride (1987) starring Cary Elwes & Robin Wright
  5. Jerry Maguire (1996) starring Tom Cruise & Renee Zellwegger

Kyrie Collins is the publisher of Macaroni KID Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree, Colo.