Got a Valentine... and a midterm? Quick date ideas for busy couples

    If you are part of the lucky .001 percent of Northwestern students in a relationship (Facebook says 18 percent, but I bet most of them are lying), tomorrow could be the most stressful day of your year. After all, it isn’t easy to fit a fancy dinner at Koi into your rigorous studying schedule for your upcoming Physics midterm.

    Vanessa Lee, a Weinberg junior, heads the social committee of her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega. As a student-event planner, she says not to let stress overtake Valentine’s Day — particularly for guys.

    “Girls really don’t care as much as guys might think,” Lee said.

    Instead of letting guilt and stress overtake your Valentine’s Day — what should (extremely theoretically) be a stress-free, lovey-dovey holiday for couples — allocate 15 to 30 minutes of your day to a quick, fun and romantic date. Or, if you are one of the magical few with an abundance of free time, string all the following ideas together to create an intense Valentine’s super-date.

    Go traying
    Make the best of the expected snow on V-day. Wear a big jacket to dinner and smuggle two trays from the dining hall. At night, when the campus is dark, cold and quiet, take your makeshift sleds to Deering Field or that random hill next to the Norris sidewalk and go sledding. After you finish sledding, have a snowball fight, suggests Weinberg freshman Andy Kim. If you still have time afterward, make hot chocolate to warm your freezing toes.

    Cuddle with hot chocolate
    Weinberg freshman Sarah Gregory recommends taking a trip to your nearest dining hall and swiping marshmallows and hot cocoa. Grab two cute mugs, and use your nearest microwave (or, in a dorm, an illegal hot pot) to make hot chocolate. Kick out your roommate and curl up in your bed with the lights off and music loud. Accompany this romantic evening with traditional Valentine’s gifts: a box of chocolates and flowers.

    Hit up the arcade
    Norris has a game room. If that doesn’t come as a shocker to you, grab your date and head to the underground level of Norris for all the Dance Dance Revolution, ping-pong, foosball and billiards you could want. The game room is open until 11 p.m. There is a small fee for billiards and ping-pong: $3 and $2 per hour, respectively. For a quick snack, the game room sells popcorn for 25 cents a bag, making it potentially the cheapest date you’ve ever had.

    Break out your classical piano skills
    Borrow a music student’s WildCARD (or use your own if you are one of the elite) and escape to the practice rooms in the Beehive or Regenstein. Already established as a good place to hook up, take a classier turn and practice your piano and serenading skills ahead of time. Bonus points if you have rhythm, but even the most tone-deaf Chem majors can make a striking impression if they can plunk out “Frère Jacques” on the piano and rhyme the lyrics with their lover’s name.

    Decorate your cookies with all that extra Valentine’s candy.
    Photo by Aine D. on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

    Bake cookies
    Pick up pre-made cookie dough at Jewel-Osco or CVS, then hijack your dormitory’s kitchen. Do your best to shape the cookie dough into hearts before putting them in the oven, but if all else fails, the dough itself is delicious. Entertain yourselves while the cookies are baking, and when they’re done, seal them up in baggies and send them off to class with your significant other. Nothing can keep you going through a boring Psych lecture like fresh-from-the-oven cookies, homemade with love.

    Curl up around the TV
    If you have a little more time on your hands, order in food and pick an episode of your favorite30-minutetelevisionshow. If your room is available, snuggle into your covers and enjoy the brief, entertaining break from your studies. If your roommate is too bogged down with her Feb. 15 midterm (cruel!) to leave, grab some blankets and your laptop and scour the campus for an open classroom.

    Brave the frozen tundra
    Fill up your coffee mugs, pile on the Under Armour and ski pants (not the hottest style, but I’ll take warm over sexy any day) and head out for a walking tour of snow-covered Northwestern, Lee suggests. Stop by the lakefill and make matching his-and-hers snowmen, complete with carrot noses. Make snow angels in the Shakespeare Garden. Check out how the campus curiously turns into Narnia between University and Swift. If it’s clear — and not windy — outside, end your date with a walk on the beach and a view of downtown Chicago. Make sure to stay a safe distance from the actual water to avoid hypothermia.

    Class it up at the BK Lounge
    Grab a tablecloth and the nicest plates and cups available to you (at least go with plastic, but glass equals bonus points) and make the trek to Burger King. After the staff laboriously creates your burger your way, take it out of its tender wrappings and arrange your meal on your plate. Other customers may give you odd looks, but ignore them. You are far classier.

    Make breakfast in bed… at night
    If you have access to a full kitchen, or can sneak into the basement of a sorority or fraternity, cook that special someone a breakfast in bed. Too busy in the morning? Make your breakfast in bed at night, and let them lie in bed and enjoy a dinner of eggs and ham. (Or cereal, depending on your available time and level of dedication.) Breakfast is always ten times more delicious for dinner, anyway.

    DIY fondue for two
    Don’t have time for Ethel’s Chocolate Lounge? Grab fruit, marshmallows and other dippable substances from the dining hall and make your own fondue. Needed: a microwave-safe bowl, milk and chocolate bars. Add about 1/4 cup of milk for each chocolate bar and stick the concoction in the microwave for around a minute, or until fully melted. Take your melted masterpiece back to your room and enjoy.

    Take a stroll down memory lane
    Find your favorite board game from your youth. Reminisce about your favorite Nickelodeon television shows, pogo sticks, Pogs and Pokémon while playing a rousing round of Candyland, Chutes and Ladders or Pretty Pretty Princess. Avoid Monopoly unless you are willing to carve out a three-hour chunk of time and have a high tolerance for boredom. Add cotton candy, macaroni and cheese with hot dogs or Pop Rocks for a deliciously childlike experience.

    Gifts on a budget
    Play a modified version of my personal favorite free-time activity, The Wal-Mart Game, at CVS. If you are too lazy to purchase a legit gift for your partner, this combines a thoughtful present with a fun, quick date. Each person takes $5 and spends 10 minutes searching for gifts. Winner: whoever finds the most gifts within the monetary limit. Technically, though, everyone’s a winner because everyone gets presents, which is the whole point of Valentine’s Day — let’s not fool ourselves.


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