by Sophie Sestero
Without the luxury of a car, a large budget, kitchen or personal space, dates can be difficult to plan on-campus. Senior Megan Fraser had to rely on group dates to Sodexo during her freshman year because of a lack of transportation. Often the groups would dress up in their best clothes, only to end up freezing in the Dining Hall or getting separated by small tables.
“Everyone sees you in Saga, everyone and their mother,” Fraser said. “You can’t go to dinner as a date with only two because if something is out of the norm, everyone notices and makes a big deal about it.”
Use this how-to guide to plan a perfect on-campus Valentine’s Day date. Local businesses and even Whitworth staff can make your date romantic and void of awkward situations.
Choosing a Valentine Card
A romantic card is the first step in setting the tone for your evening and can also double as an invitation to a date night. Selecting a popular card from a greeting card chains poses the possibility of giving someone a card he or she has gotten before. To avoid using generic messages, look for vintage cards at local antique stores. Vintage cards have classic messages and beautiful hand-made illustrations that are rarely found on commercial cards.
The Vintage Rabbit on Monroe has dozens of vintage Valentines directly inside the front door, neatly organized for customers. The antique store has 35 different vendors in its 6,000-square-foot location. You are sure to find not only an affordable Valentine, but also knowledgeable help to select a quality card.
“German-made chromolithographed die cut are the cream of the crop,” said Vintage Rabbit owner Jan Richart.
Chromolithography is the technique of printing with many dots put together. This makes the cards clearer and more detailed. These Valentines will generally be marked ‘Made in Germany,’ may date back to the 1800s, and have romantic messages. The newer American cards are made on a thinner paper, don’t have texture and often have cutesy messages.
If classic cards are not available, look for simple postcards. Tossed and Found antique store co-owner Nicki Krossen suggested taking a simpler card and using it to create something new.
“The card has to apply to the person you’re giving it to,” said Krossen. “It should have some meaning that ties into your relationship.”
Krossen suggested cutting up antique cards and making them into a collage. Cards are made more personal when embellishments are added. Rhinestones, sheet music or lace make an otherwise plain Valentine more tailored to your sweetheart.
“Using things that are new and old make something special and unique,” Krossen said.
Selecting a Gift
Just as in creating a card, selecting a gift should be something that suits your sweetheart.
“Freshman year, a guy asked me out to a date in his room,” Fraser said. “He had my favorite movie queued up and cheesecake, my favorite dessert, ready to go.”
To find a gift fitting for that special someone, Spokane has several businesses providing quality gifts at a reasonable price. Traditional gifts are flowers for women and chocolates for men.
Ritter’s Floral is just around the corner from Whitworth and the florists are skilled at creating flower masterpieces at a range of price levels.
“We offer single wrapped roses, a dozen wrapped roses or a dozen roses in a vase, or anything you can think up,” said florist Amy Marsh.
Depending on the budget, customers can get creative with their orders. Common Valentine arrangements incorporate candies and candles as an added gift. Arrangement specifications help to maintain beauty while limiting costs. For instance, order an arrangement with only three roses instead of a dozen. The store also offers a 15 percent discount to Whitworth students and staff. For an added surprise, have the flowers hand delivered to a dorm on-campus for $5 more.
Chocolates can be a personal gift when they are selected by hand with someone special in mind. Spokandy, voted repeatedly as Spokane’s favorite candy company, offers a wide selection of hand-made chocolates and candies each day.
“We do a large variety of heart boxes every Valentine’s Day where people can pack a box with their sweetheart’s favorite candies,” said owner Todd Davis.
For newer couples that don’t know what their sweetheart might like, Spokandy offers prepackaged variety boxes called ‘Premium Selections.’ The most popular treats are Murphies, turtles and caramels. Murphies were the company’s founding product in 1913. They are a unique combination of coconut and marshmallow covered in chocolate.
Spokandy’s prices range from $2.25 to $189 for an 8-pound heart of chocolate. The store also offers hand delivery for $7 as well as nationwide shipping.
Dining In… a Dorm
Cooking dinner inside a dorm can be tricky, particularly with the problem of pesky neighbors interrupting a romantic evening. Each dorm offers a fridge, stove, sink and microwave. Warren RA Callie Chestnut recommended utilizing the stove for simple, one-pan meals.
“I’ve seen people do sautéed vegetables and some meat because you just need a pan and oil. If you add tortillas, you can make fajitas,” Chestnut said.
Warren RAs have done Prime Time quesadillas with homemade salsa and guacamole. Guacamole and salsa simply require that the ingredients to be chopped and mashed, and are a delicious addition to a meal.
“You could also do a breakfast for dinner,” Chestnut said. “We’ve done pancakes for activities. You can make eggs, pancakes and bacon in minutes and it’s delicious.”
Make the pancakes more interesting with your sweetheart’s favorite foods. Banana, frozen fruit, peanut butter, even skittles can be fun, Chestnut said.
Making sure only a few dishes and bowls are needed will help in the preparation since counter space is at a premium.
When your dinner is ready, create a date environment in a private space, such as your dorm room. Just make sure your room is clean and in order.
“Any time you plan it in a public place, you run the risk of people walking through or friends coming by to chat,” Chestnut said. “Make the date as simple as possible. It can still be really fun if you use what you have because it is still a special night.”
Try using flashlights instead of candles for romantic lighting. To create a table, use a storage tub with scrap fabric on top. Seeing the thought put into the evening will make it romantic. As a finishing touch, add music from a playlist on your iPod to help create a relaxed mood.
Devouring Your Dessert
Baking can be difficult in dorm ovens because of temperature variations, timer malfunctions and a lack of access to proper materials. Knowing this, why not pick out a dessert ahead of time?
Celebrations Cupcake Shop on Garland Avenue offers original cupcakes made from scratch every day. While selection constantly changes, the owner will offer specialty cupcakes for Valentine’s Day.
“We will be doing a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese or butter cream, and we do a pink Champaign cupcake too,” said owner Christina Levinson. “We will be doing a lot with strawberries, reds, pinks and chocolate. We will even have some with conversation hearts on them.”
Some of Celebrations’ most popular flavors are their maple bacon cupcakes, red velvet and faux-stess cupcakes. Each day the shop offers from 15 to 20 different flavors.
“They are perfect-sized proportions of personal happiness,” Levinson said. “It’s a great opportunity for something different than normal Valentine’s dessert.”
Celebrations’ prices are $2 for gourmet cupcakes, such as the decadent chocolate orange cupcake or $1.50 for classic cupcakes.