Ideal Dates: Ideas from the Creative Community

by Grace Bonney

Every month this year, we will reach out to some of our favorite members of the creative community with a question inspired by our editorial theme. Last month we shared over 25 ideas for curing the common cold, and this month we’re focusing on love. In addition to our own team contributions, we asked 15 talented artists, designers and writers to share their ideas for an IDEAL DATE. Whether you’ve planned a special event for Valentine’s Day this week or need some last-minute ideas, this post has got you covered. From Genevieve Gorder’s take-charge date and Darcy Miller Nussbaum’s parent escape to Bemelmans Bar to Ez of Creature Comforts’ Amelie-themed friends’ night out, our contributors have shared some fantastic ideas to get your holiday started. Thanks so much to everyone who shared this month! xo, grace

Image above: Grace’s ideal date — I’m a homebody at heart, so anything that lets me feel curled up and comfy while getting quality time with someone special is my ideal situation. Throw in some sort of fun creative activity, and I’m in heaven.

Amy’s ideal date: When I was a kid, my favorite Chuck E. Cheese game was skeeball. I didn’t mess with the wack-a-mole or the basketball hoops. I’d park myself in front of the skeeball and aim to win as many tickets as possible. And there was nothing more satisfying than hitting the 50 and watching the tickets spit out. I haven’t had much chance to practice, but there’s now a skeeball bar in Williamsburg, and I’m sure that I could wow any date with my skills.

Max’s ideal date: I haven’t been to the galleries in Chelsea in ages, but I’ve always had a blast whenever I’ve gone. It’s great to grab a few friends and make a day of going from gallery to gallery. Because most of the galleries show contemporary art, you’re almost guaranteed to see something new and fresh. There are also a ton of restaurants and cafés in the area to stop at afterwards (looking at art takes energy!).

Darcy Miller Nussbaum, Editorial Director at Martha Stewart Weddings: Our “ideal date” for Valentine’s would be to give lots of kisses to our daughters (including chocolate ones) and go to a favorite local spot — Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel — where we would have a bite (Andy’s drink of choice is scotch; mine is hot chocolate) and enjoy live music (if we are lucky, we get to catch Steve Tyrell singing when he is in town).

Genevieve Gorder of HGTV: I don’t need the chocolates. I don’t even need the flowers; all I need is a night of surprise where I don’t need to make any decisions. Yes men, this is the secret to the alpha woman’s heart . . . just don’t let her lead. Give me a time and a place, let me walk in and find you waiting for me with a beautiful dinner in a place I don’t go to every day. Order for me, and I am absolutely yours.

Photographer Matt Armendariz: Extremely fancy food is usually lost on me for celebrations since I work with it almost every single day. Give me comfort food; give me anything homemade to make my celebration special. However, since I need to make the 14th lovely, it’s usually a bottle of Bugey-Cerdon and a few pieces of really beautiful cheese. It’s enough to make Valentine’s Day romantic and special for us.

Florist Amy Merrick: I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my dream Valentine’s Day date since I am normally a fan of Chinese takeout and hiding from the masses on corny prix-fixe dinner dates. Instead I think going to get a couple’s tintype portrait taken by Keliy Anderson-Staley would be so much fun — a fancy substitute for the old-timey photos on the boardwalk that my mom would never spring for.

Illustrator Jing Wei: I spend a lot of time alternating between being in my studio and running around the city, so my ideal date would be a whole day off with no work or social obligations. It definitely starts with sleeping in, then taking a walk to the farmer’s market, coming home and spending the rest of the day making a meaty roast and some sort of elaborate dessert. After dinner, we would walk down the street to Weather Up and spend the rest of the night drinking fancy cocktails. Perfect day!

Illustrator Lisa Hanawalt: Generally, I love art museum dates and cooking-dinner-at-home dates. But, okay, here’s my secret favorite date: window shopping at fancy department stores in Manhattan. My boyfriend and I go to places like Bergdorf, Barneys and Prada, where we touch everything and peek at the price tags. We admire luxurious, beautiful things, but it’s also really fun to look at all the stuff that’s grossly frivolous and overpriced. There’s a “Fur Vault” in the Herald Square Macy’s where you can try on coats that sell for what I spend on rent in a year! It’s a little gross, but part of me loves the old-fashioned metropolitan glamor of it all. Rule: If you do this, you have to be very polite to all the shop employees. No snickering and acting like a jerk until you’re out of earshot!

Stylist Ginny Branch: My ideal date would be for my husband to take off work and spend a really lazy and indulgent day with me. First and foremost, a boozy, mimosa-laden brunch to start. Afterward, a walk around the neighborhood or a perusal around a bookstore. Then reading in bed together followed by a looooong nap. Cap it all off with dinner and a movie, and I’d be one happy girl!

Blogger Bri Emery of Design Love Fest: One of my favorite dates that I’ve ever been on was a cooking class! We learned how to make risotto and crème brûlée, drank wine and had a ton of fun. There is something very romantic about cooking together, don’t you think? Another idea is to throw an eclectic single ladies’ brunch! Wear comfy clothes, set up a fun self-serve bar and make heart waffles!

Paul Lowe of Sweet Paul: As I am totally exhausted these days (book, summer issue, kid’s special issue, clients and general life), my perfect Valentine’s date would be one that includes a nice hotel suite, a massage (don’t mind a happy ending (from my man, of course)), pedicure, room service, movies on the telly and a long, hot bubble bath, only interrupted by a delivery from Hermes. Then snuggle in bed with man and dog (our dog loves staying at hotels), and thinking that life is pretty ok.

Blogger Camille Styles: Although all of our “date nights” tend to revolve around food, a big, fancy dinner out is never part of our V-day plans (amateur night!!). Instead, we’ll indulge our obsession with pizza by making our own on the grill, albeit “dressed up” versions like butternut squash & blue cheese or fig & caramelized onion. After a long, leisurely dinner with a glass or three of pinot grigio, we’ll curl up with a good movie and — maybe it’s because we have a six-month-old this year — call it an early night. Bliss!

Blogger Jason Hudson: Well, this year we’re spending Valentine’s Day on an airplane between Christchurch and Australia’s Gold Coast. So we’ll probably splurge on some bubbly, share a crappy cheese plate and make a real date out of it! #eatgaylove

Blogger Ez of Creature Comforts: Since the sky is the limit in the world of “ideal dates,” I decided that I would most love to host an Amélie (the French film) themed fête for my closest single girlfriends. The day would include a French macaron baking class, followed by an amazing meal created by the incomparable Stag Dining Group (the courses served would be inspired by scenes from the film). The day would end with a sleepover (don’t you miss those?) with a nail bar (for pampering), French Pear Martinis (for refreshment) and a screening of Amélie (of course).

Artist and Designer Mike Perry: I would love for Anna, our dog, Bass, and I to suddenly wake up in the woods in upstate with some cash and a bottle of Pellegrino. We would start walking and wander for a while through the woods. Come to a small town and have a nice breakfast at a diner. Buy an old car and just start driving. Head south at a snail’s pace, stopping along the way wherever our hearts desire. Maybe find a nice little deli and pack a picnic for lunch. Drive some more, stay calm through the New York traffic and end up back in Brooklyn. Park the car then go for a stroll down Eastern Parkway for a nice meal at Bar Corvo. Have a cocktail or two and head home to end the night back in our bed.

Designer and Event Planner David Stark: Playing hooky and going to the beach! This started when I was in high school, and it continues to be a favorite now. The beach is always special, of course, but when you are playing hooky, that date is even BETTER!

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