Making out in a mask isn’t ideal. Trust me, I’ve tried.
COVID put a damper on lots of things, not the least of which is my annual opportunity to simultaneously wear both my Visit Bend hat and my romance author one for a blog post.
Since now’s not the time to encourage travel or suggest best places to kiss in Bend, consider keeping the focus where it counts this year––on cherishing relationships and everything you share with those you love.
With that in mind, here are six things to exchange with your Valentine involving little risk of viral infection.
Send a love letter
Between email and social media, many have forgotten the art of putting pen to paper to craft a good old-fashioned love letter. Why not resurrect that tradition for Valentine’s Day 2021?
Plenty of Bend shops from Paper Jazz to Hello Sunshine to Clementine Urban Mercantile sell adorable cards that are perfect for penning your love-infused missive. Write down a favorite memory or tell your sweetie about post-pandemic plans you hope to enjoy together.
If you’re not much of a writer, consider crafting a top ten list of things you love best about your boo. If that’s still not your jam, find a poem that reminds you of him or her and copy it down (attributing it to the author, of course). Just seeing sweet words in your handwriting goes a long way toward letting your loved one know you mean it.
Once you’ve got the words down, add a few smooch prints if you’re someone who wears lipstick. Uh…maybe give it a spritz of bleach before tucking it in that envelope?
Score some sexy books
A close friend confessed to reading my novels aloud with her beau in bed. Can I just say that’s one of the coolest reader comments I’ve heard in 35+ published romantic comedies?
Romance novels run the gamut from my own beloved rom-com to historical, paranormal, erotic romance, young adult, religious-themed inspirationals, sci-fi, and stories featuring LGBTQ characters. That’s only the tip of the iceberg, but if romance isn’t your genre of choice, pick something you and your hottie have in common.
True story: Literally seconds ago as I sat here writing this blog post, my husband forwarded me an email featuring this book about trees around Oregon and Washington. “Are you interested in buying this?” he wrote. “I am.”
My husband is not a book guy, so his interest stems from our frequent hiking dates that find us asking each other, “what kind of tree is that?” It’s touching that he’d think of it, so while not the sort of sexy tome to spark illicit thoughts, the book lets me know he’s recalling previous outdoor adventures and planning more for our future.
Another Bend-themed bookish gift is a local hiking guide with pages flagged for hikes you’d like to try together. This pairs nicely with the aforementioned love note. Bend’s locally-owned bookstores offer a bounty of these kinds of resources, so swing by Roundabout Books or Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe to ask what they have in stock. If in-store shopping isn’t your scene right now, both stores offer online shopping options you can enjoy right from your living room.
Give gift cards for someday dates
It feels like it’s been approximately 2,873 years since I wrote cheerful Valentine’s posts about romantic dinner dates or meals in Bend with aphrodisiac ingredients.
We’ve all had to adjust to takeout meals as a date night staple since the pandemic turned our world upside down. The hubby and I even installed twinkle lights in my home office to transform it into a kid-free romantic restaurant for nights we order Bend takeout.
Bend restaurants need your support more than ever, but if you’re outside the area and not able to drive 300 miles for V-day dinner, why not grab a gift certificate for a future romantic meal? Tuck that gem into the handwritten card I mentioned earlier and voila! You’ve got yourself a sweet little gift.
Want to step up your game? Pair it with a gift certificate for a massage or a visit to a Bend day spa. If you’re out-of-towners dreaming of a Bend vacation in post-pandemic times, gift cards for a Bend hotel stay or getaway to a Bend bed and breakfast are a generous way to let your lovebug know you’re looking forward to future travel together.
If you’re more into outdoor adventure than pampering, grab gift cards from Bend outfitters like Wanderlust Tours, Cog Wild, or Sun Country Tours. Anything in that vein is a great way to say, “I like to touch your butt outside.”
Make an IOU for future fun
Everyone who’s ever approached Valentine’s Day side-eyeing a single-digit bank balance knows the beauty of a handmade IOU.
Even if the pandemic hasn’t relegated you to digging through couch cushions for gift buying bucks, odds are good it’s upended your ability to plan. Either way, it’s time to bust out the felt pens and some craft paper. Glitter isn’t recommended, but you do you!
Think about things you and snookums have enjoyed together in the past. A romantic picnic? An evening of stargazing? A special waterfall hike? Bonus points for including a few pics with your handmade IOU.
If concern for the environment makes you hesitant to use actual paper, check out our Plan a Trip feature on the Visit Bend website. You can create a checklist of activities and attractions to see on your next Bend visit, then share that list with honeybun as a heartwarming virtual IOU.
When your Valentine has four legs
If the love of your life wakes you up each morning by licking your face, you might have a weird relationship.
Or you might have a dog, which is pretty much the best Valentine on earth. Unconditional love? A perpetual hiking buddy? Someone to lick your plate so you don’t have to pre-rinse? Sign me up!
My pups are big fans of the treats we find at Bend Pet Express, and this time of year, we can always find heart-shaped biscuits to honor V-day in doggie style.
Downtown Bendy Dog has a great assortment of gifts ranging from blinged-out collars to dog dishes and accessories.
Several Bend dining spots, including Worthy Brewing and Sunriver Brewing Company have actual menu items for dogs, so pick up some grub for Fido the next time you do Bend takeout.
Even a simple trek to one of Bend’s off-leash dog parks will let Rover know you consider him to be your true soulmate.
As it should be.
Pledge a solemn vow
If you love Bend more than anything in the world, you’re not alone.
Since sealing it with a vow seems like the romantic thing to do, why not take The Bend Pledge? It’s a tangible way to solidify your commitment to leaving Bend better than you found it, whether you’re a longtime local, or a visitor jonesing to vacation here once this pandemic is behind us.
If you’d like to make a financial contribution toward tending Bend’s wild places, a donation to Pledge for the Wild is one way to contribute to preserving and protecting the trails you love.
A commitment to sustainability is one of the most meaningful promises you can make not only to yourself, but to that saucy vixen Mother Nature. She’s everyone’s true Valentine, so let’s band together to look out for her.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Here’s hoping post-pandemic times are kinder to all of us.