Valentine's Day is a special holiday in our house. I look at it as a nice reminder to take a few extra moments to show someone how much you love them, as well as an excuse to celebrate the first "major" holiday since New Year's. But most of all, I see it as a date to look forward to long after the magical feel of Christmas has been replaced with the cold, gray days of winter. No matter the reason, we like to add a few festive touches to our home that work to brighten things up, and to use the date as a fun excuse to plan something out of the ordinary.

This year, rather than brave the crowds on "amateur night" and empty our wallets on pricey prix fixe menus, Alex is planning a night in, where he and a friend are cooking for us ladies. I've overheard talk about the potential menu, and I'm really excited to see how it all comes together. Fingers crossed that there's a great chocolate dessert involved! 

To give Alex a bit of a head start, I decided to put together a simple tablescape to serve as festive backdrop to the boys' culinary finest. After all, we were starting with a uninspired clean slate.

I turned to my bag of tricks and got to work gathering items from around the house that I felt would work well in a classic Valentine's theme.

I started with a base by draping the dining room table in a simple white linen table cloth. On top of the table cloth I used one of my favorite Valentine's accents, a modern striped table runner from Crate and Barrel. This runner has served me quite well over the years, always livening up our dining room table during the month of February. I agonized over the purchase (like I do almost every purchase), but now I'm happy every time I use it. I then topped off the table by setting it with silver chargers, our "good" china, and our formal flatware.

In my opinion there's almost nothing that sets off a nice table setting more than fresh flowers. Don't be fooled by the idea that flowers are expensive and out of reach. I make a habit of always checking out the various flower arrangements on display at Trader Joe's. They often have great deals on flowers that can last a week or more in your home. For this table setting I picked up a bunch of inexpensive (only $5.99) yet beautiful purple hyacinths and arranged them in a spiral fashion in a low glass container. It's not your typical floral centerpiece but it makes for an amazingly fragrant addition to the room.

I also used this opportunity to make use of my ruby red cocktail glasses and silver rimmed water glasses. The ruby red glasses are another one of those unexpected decor items that seems very limited but is actually extremely versatile. I've used these same glasses for Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day, and even the 4th of July. These can be paired with so many other items on the table to set the mood for whatever the occasion may be.

I also couldn't resist the addition of my favorite napkin rings -- a ceramic set from Williams Sonoma (picked up on clearance years ago) featuring heart shaped cut outs. Each set of four contains a napkin ring in white, red, pink, and purple. These are obviously made for a Valentine's Day celebration, so it's important to me that I dust them off and use them every year. This way I feel like their purchase was a well justified.

Beyond the immediate table setting, it's important to set the mood for the rest of the room. You don't want the celebration to be isolated to only the table. I carried the theme to other rooms by adding in other festive touches in the living and dining rooms, like my Valentine's bunting made from greeting cards... well as the inclusion of my new heart pillow from last weekend's Warehouse Sale...

...which apparently means love is in the air. Heck, even Lulu is showing her V-day spirit by sporting a pink turtleneck sweater with red flower on the side. She's a stylish pooch.

My final flourish was the addition of paper heart cutouts with red and white strips of decorative paper, dangling delicately from the chandelier.

With the stage set I'm all ready to turn the night over to the boys and place the evening in their oh so capable hands. I'm excited to see what they have up their sleeves, and I do hope it includes a chocolate dessert. Wait, what? I said that already? 

Call me crazy, but something tells me that the boys, in spite of their days of planning, may not have enough time to add the little things, like paper hearts for the chandelier.

Hopefully this Valentine's Day dinner party will be more successful than my last. I may or may not have caught a kitchen towel on fire during that one. But that's a story I'll save for another day.

What are you doing to celebrate Valentine's Day this year? Do you celebrate the holiday with a romantic date, or maybe you prefer to fly solo? Are you one to go out for an extravagant night, or stay in for a quiet dinner and a movie? Maybe instead of the whole lovey-dovey stuff, you'll be tackling your next house project? Whatever your plans, I'd love to hear all about it.

Interested in more Valentine's Day ideas? Check out our Valentines Project page.

Comments 2


Sarah Kate
2/7/2013 at 11:00 AM
Fire is a romantic touch, although perhaps not if coming from a dish towel? Beautiful table setting, but I'm sure it would look even lovelier with a chocolate delicacy in sight...
LOL! Yes, I try to keep my romantic fires limited to the fireplace. I'm not always successful though...
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