Column: 10 ways to safely spend the holiday of love during COVID-19

With+Valentine%27s+Day+around+the+corner+but+the+pandemic+still+in+full+swing%2C+there+are+so+many+options+to+celebrate+at+a+proper+distance+or+virtually.+

Harriet Rovniak

With Valentine’s Day around the corner but the pandemic still in full swing, there are so many options to celebrate at a proper distance or virtually.

Katie Mogg, news staff

Valentine’s Day is the single remaining holiday with festivities not yet altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. But unfortunately, the holiday’s fate is sealed. Although our nation’s efforts to roll out a vaccine are finally starting to progress, the pandemic will be far from over by the time Feb. 14 rolls around. 

Despite the setbacks the virus presents, love conquers all! So, here are some suggestions to safely celebrate closest friends, family or loved ones:

1. Create a playlist for a loved one

Songs can be an extremely effective avenue to channel feelings, but not everyone is born with the talents of Billy Joel or John Legend. Instead of writing a unique song, warm the heart of your valentine by crafting them a playlist encapsulating your feelings. 

Here is a popular Valentine’s Day playlist on Spotify.

2. Send your valentine a letter

In an age of instant messaging and social media, using the traditional postal service may feel like an antiquated method of communication, but there is something special about a tangible letter that cannot be replicated by a text message. If no song perfectly captures how you feel about your valentine, mail them a handwritten letter explaining your appreciation for them. This activity is not only COVID-19-friendly, but it is romantic, personal and vintage. 

3. Host a virtual dinner date

Although Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker lifted the mandate as of Jan. 25 requiring restaurants to close by 9:30 p.m., the safest way to dine during the pandemic is from the comfort of your own home. Sharing a meal with a loved one is a classic way to spend Valentine’s Day. A virtual dinner date on Zoom or FaceTime is the perfect way to spend some quality time with friends and family without risking one’s health. 

4. Dine in a restaurant igloo

For those comfortable with taking advantage of the lifted restrictions, many restaurants in the Boston area have implemented igloos: socially distant pods for outdoor dining in cold weather. Some restaurants that have implemented these igloos include Lookout Rooftop and bar, The Playwright Bar and Restaurant and 75 on Liberty Wharf.

5. Take a walk outside

This Valentine’s Day, practice traditional courtship and take a walk with your significant other. A few scenic places to enjoy in Boston include the Charles River Esplanade, the Boston Harbor Walk and Boston Common, America’s oldest park. 

6. Send loved ones chocolate

Chocolate is the staple commodity of Valentine’s Day, and the pandemic does not have to impede that. If you are unable to spend face-to-face time with your loved ones this holiday, let them know that they are in your thoughts by sending them a sweet treat. Not sure what kind to buy? According to CandyStore.com, last year the most popular type of Valentine’s Day chocolate in Massachusetts was heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. 

7. Stream a movie or television show

Using streaming services to remotely consume media with others has been a staple of quarantine culture since businesses and schools first started closing in March 2020. Although it is almost a year later, using streaming services like Teleparty, Netflix’s updated chrome extension and Hulu Sharing remains a popular, socially distant way to connect with those you love. 

8. Have fun with online quizzes and games

After hours of video chatting and text messaging loved ones, conversation may run dry. A fun way to spice up this year’s Valentine’s Day is by playing games and taking quizzes to get to know your loved ones better. Some amusing online activities include Words with Friends and Jackbox Games. A fun quiz to take with your valentine is The 5 Love Languages

9. Read the same book and discuss it together

An easy way to connect with friends and family is through a book. Choose a book to read together and then talk about it virtually. Reading a book with a valentine creates a unique shared experience that can facilitate deep conversations and precipitate a closer bond. Some books currently on the New York Times’ Best Seller List are “Bridgerton,” “The Scorpion’s Tale” and “The Vanishing Half.” 

10. Create a bucket list

Although the pandemic has impeded normal life for what seems like forever, there will eventually come a day when normalcy resumes. This Valentine’s Day can be spent brainstorming activities to enjoy once life is normal again. Daydream with your loved one about visiting the Maldives or the Eiffel Tower or dining at a favorite restaurant worry-free without a mask. Creating a bucket list is a fun way to get excited about the future and create a spark of hope during this dark time.

This Valentine’s Day, love is in the air… but so are germs. So perhaps these suggestions can help make people’s expressions of love effective, special and memorable but, most importantly, safe.