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716ers Guide to a Pandemic-Friendly Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is known to carry the pressure of planning the perfect night for you and your loved one, but with a pandemic thrown in the mix, it's easy to feel the added stress. While our options may be limited for going out and exploring the city, there are still so many safe options for a special day! From dining in igloos, to handmade crafts, and at home spa nights, we have everything you need for a perfect, pandemic-friendly Valentine's Day.


Taking Indoor Dining Outside

Written by Serena Leatherbarrow

With Buffalo weather we all know there are only so many months to enjoy outdoor dining before our food freezes on our plates and our hands go numb from the bitter cold temperatures. In the winter months, 716ers are forced inside which hasn’t been an easy task this past year. NYS capacity limits have created difficulties for restaurants that are typically overflowing with hungry customers.

However, several local Buffalo businesses have created ways to bring indoor dining outside and provide a safe experience for Western New Yorkers. What is this alternative dining option you ask? Well, outdoor igloos of course! Restaurants from the city of Buffalo, to Hamburg, East Aurora, and Akron are offering this unique approach to the outdoor dining experience. As pictured to the right, igloos have been set up outside the restaurants with tables and chairs for you and your party. While it may be snowing around you, personal heaters have been placed in each igloo to keep its guests cozy; however, it is still suggested that you dress warm.

This opportunity is quite romantic to say the least and the perfect opportunity to enjoy your own personal snow globe. You’ll truly experience the best of both worlds while watching the snow fall, but still staying warm to savor your meal. But wait, it gets better! Some restaurants are even providing Bluetooth speakers for you and your lover to listen to that special song.

Whether you are bringing your significant other or spending Galentine’s Day with your best friends, an igloo is sure to make your night memorable in this chilly weather. From pizzerias, to hamburger joints, Mexican restaurants, and even more elegant dining experiences, there are a variety of options, sure to please anyone. Now that you know how you’ll be spending your Valentine’s Day, head to your search bar and explore the local restaurants offering this unique igloo experience.


Heart Shaped Pizzas & Cookies

Written by Marissa Packard

It’s that time of the year again and we all know that you’re looking for the best ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day, especially during a pandemic. We know that candy, flowers, and bling take center stage on Valentine’s Day, but I think that heart shaped pizzas should be put in the same conversation. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love pizza?

Photo courtesy of Step Out Buffalo

While I know many couples will be looking to go out to eat to celebrate their day at a fancy restaurant or even their favorite restaurant, others are okay with celebrating at home together. Why not order a heart shaped pizza from your local pizzeria? We are no longer in the days of pizza being forbidden on Valentine’s Day and I am ALL here for it.

It’s also simple enough for you to make at home with your significant other or even with your family. It’s a good DIY dinner at home for you to do with your kids. The hardest part would just be getting the pizza dough into heart form.

Also, this is a perfect staple that should be part of your Galentine's Day celebrations, the day before Valentine’s Day (also MY BIRTHDAY). We know that it's hard this year to get together with your friends and spend some time with them but just sending them a heart shaped pizza may go a long way. You could also have your celebration on Zoom where you and your friends make pizzas at home with wine and other cocktails.

Photo courtesy of Dessert Deli Bakery

Heart shaped cookies are also a staple that could go with the flowers that you gift your significant others or kids this Valentine’s Day. They can also pair well with the wine that you are sending or dropping off to your friends for Galentine's Day. You can pick them up at the grocery store or even buy some from a local bakery, which is a good way to help support the small businesses.

If you’re feeling really crazy and in a DIY mood, try making the cutouts yourself! Everyone loves making Christmas cutouts so why not keep the party going and make them for this holiday as well. It’s so simple. All you need is cutout dough that you can buy or create yourself, along with some frosting and heart-shaped cutouts. This would be a fun idea to do as a family and make with your kids!

It’s been a difficult year for all of us where we have spent so much time inside. Its also been hard to keep busy and find new things to do. So if you’re looking for ways to do a DIY Valentine’s Day, look no further than these two DIY food ideas.


Virtual Valentine's Day Party

Written by Liam Cheasty

Unfortunately, we are all still living within the midst of the pandemic, and with Valentine's Day coming up, it makes it more difficult to be able to go out places and gather in large groups. Also, many of us still feel a little hesitant going places and feel more comfortable at home or staying amongst a select few people.

This year for Valentine’s Day, try doing a virtual party. Using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or any of the other virtual meeting programs, you can set up a party with your group, significant other, or anyone you want! Decorate your room background to fit the mood, make sure to have everyone’s favorite music playing, and have some fun amongst your virtual group.

You can share a card with them by using, a site that lets design and create your own Valentine's Day cards completely online. Share recipes with the Pink Kitchen or create little toys using Warm Fuzzy Combinations, a site that allows you to create different creatures. Although it may not be the most ideal thing to do for this special day, it is one of your safest options at the moment, so why not make the most of it!


Paint Night for All

Written by Bria Meredith

This Valentine's Day will be a little different than last year because of the pandemic. Many people are quarantining and looking for at home activities to do. Have you ever wanted to paint but you can barely draw a stick figure? Here is a solution! Paint by numbers is the perfect at-home Valentine’s Day activity to do with your significant other. There are so many options to choose from at your local craft store. Whether you are looking to paint your favorite vacation destination, a place you have always dreamed of going to, or even a customized photo of you and your loved one. You can even paint a picture of your pet!

Paint by numbers is such an easy way to create a picture perfect painting. The paint colors come in a kit with a numbered canvas, so all you have to do is paint the corresponding number and color. For those who are more advanced and want to paint without guidance, grab some paint and a canvas. The ideas are endless! You can paint portraits of each other, find an object and have a competition or even paint in the dark and see how they turn out. Get some takeout, a glass of wine, and put on some music in the background while painting the night away!


Bringing the Movie Theater Home

Written by Alexis Dahn

Want a fun idea for Valentines Day while social distancing? There's nothing better than a movie night with friends or your significant other. Sadly, none of the movie theaters are open in Buffalo right now, but we still have lots of other ways to watch movies. Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, and other subscriptions are pretty popular these days. If you don't have a subscription they usually have a free one week trial.

Some of my favorite movies to watch with my friends on Valentine's Day are the Notebook, Magic Mike, 50 First Dates, Bridesmaids, and Valentine's Day.

Some movies that I would watch with my significant other would be Friends with Benefits, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Hitch, and 50 First Dates.


Outdoor Valentine's Day Activities

Written by Conor Thompson

COVID-19 has affected all of our lives in one way or another. One effect forgotten sometimes is dating. Many couples these days, young and old, are finding it difficult to stay busy. A couple of favorite dates I enjoyed were going to a sporting event or a concert. Unfortunately, both of these activities are no longer options. With Valentine’s Day coming up, below are some fun ideas to enjoy your holiday!

With most places being closed or having limited capacity, you may have to be creative on Valentine’s Day. Sometimes simple is best, and with the snow in Buffalo, that means skiing or sledding. Whether you’ve been skiing all your life or just trying it out, it’s a great way to stay active during the pandemic. But what if you don’t have skis or aren’t interested in skiing? Why not go sledding just like when you were a kid! It may sound amateur and silly, but your significant other will appreciate the creative effort and will have a good time too!

Another great thing couples can do would be to go on a hike, especially with your dog. There are tons of local walking trails to visit and some places even offer snowshoe rentals. However, it’s February in Buffalo and walking through inches of snow isn't an option for all. What you could do is something as simple as go for a drive. You can bring your dog, get ice cream or hot chocolate, and drive around Western New York. There are so many historical landmarks to visit along the way!

These are just a couple ideas to make the most out of this covid Valentine’s Day. Please read the other Discover716 blogs for more ideas to make the most out of your holiday.


Home Spa Night

Written by Amanda Ross

Valentine's day during a pandemic?!? How do you go about doing any self care and social distancing during the most romantic day of the year? Creating your own home spa night is the way to go whether you are having a Galentine's Day celebration, are with a significant other, or are treating yourself; this is something that is cheap and easy to do.

When it comes to a spa night, it does not have to be over the top, you can get the basics at any store or make it a little more creative and create each product using DIY recipes. This is a great option as you can spend some time bonding with friends over hair & face mask recipes, while having a relaxing evening. With the home spa night, you can order in your favorite food and for the 21+ crowd, open a bottle of wine, pop in a romantic comedy, and relax the night away.


Getting Crafty with Handmade Valentines

Written by Mary Kate Wirfel

With Valentine's Day coming up this year we have to think differently about how we want to celebrate it. Lucky for you I am a very crafty person and I can show you some different ways to make Valentine's Day cards and handmade gifts.

There has been a very popular trend recently of painting and hiding rocks all over Western New York, thanks to Sweet Buffalo Rocks. This is also a great idea for Valentine's Day as you can simply paint a rock for your valentine. You will need paints, glitter, glue gems, and beads. You can easily craft a handmade valentine that someone can cherish for a long time. A painted rock can be perfect for a paper weight, a cute little trinket on a shelf, and even in a plant or a garden to brighten up the space. You can find rocks right in your backyard or at a neighborhood park. With most of the Western New York region under snow, you can also go to your local home improvement store to buy some rocks.

Another crafty idea is handmade beaded bracelets. Just head on over to your nearest craft store and make sure you are buying supplies from small businesses as they really need our help right now because of money loss due to the pandemic. Finding stretchy elastic and creative beads to make something very beautiful. The person you gift it to can always wear something that reminds them of you. Bracelets can be used as keychains and ornaments as well.

The usual handmade valentine for kids is some construction or craft paper, glitter, markers, glue, and stickers. If you don’t want to go all out with the mess that is made, just use some crafting card stock, heart shaped stencils, paint pens and stickers. This idea will be an easy clean up and create less mess for the kids. You can even tape a piece of candy or a small toy or pencil to the valentine to make it extra cheerful. Kids can also craft their own Valentine's Day boxes so their classmates can fill it up with their valentines. An empty tissue box, some craft paper and stickers is perfect for making a Valentine’s Day card box. You can also bake cookies or make your own candies. You can make a sweet cookie & candy platter for your valentine.

Everyone loves to get flowers on Valentines Day. Why not make the flowers? You can use colored duct tape and card stock paper to make colorful and creative flowers that your valentine can always look at. No need to worry about watering the plants or the flowers dying. If you want to keep up with the traditional gift of flowers, shop at a local florist. Knitting is also popular; you can knit someone a blanket, hats, gloves or even little hearts.


Self Love: Single Valentine's Day

Written by Rachel Bruneel

Some of you may wonder what to do on Valentine’s Day when you don't have a boo. The best thing to do is treat yourself from the second you wake up. Wake up, make some coffee or tea, whatever you prefer.

After you do your morning routine, start off by doing a facial and making your favorite meal. If you wanted to get in the holiday spirit, you can make heart-shaped pancakes and even add some whip cream to them. After you finish your breakfast start binge watching your favorite shows and enjoy your Sunday.

If you enjoy playing videos games, try to beat the level that you are stuck on while listening to your favorite playlist. You can even Zoom video chat with your loved ones and share the love with them! As soon as you wake up start catering and loving yourself to the best of your ability because if you don’t love yourself, nobody will! Go for a run or even a walk around your neighborhood and make your own four course meal!


Valentine's Day Sight Seeing

Written by Louis Fabiano

Although you can’t go to Canalside this Valentine's Day to ice skate, you can still take a trip down to the Outer Harbor to take a walk and do some sightseeing!

The Outer Harbor is over 200 acres of land which includes The Independent Health Wellness Trail, Wilkeson Pointe, and the Lakeside Bike Park! Your options for adventure are vast, or if you would just like to relax you can enjoy a beautiful waterfront sunset. If it's snowy, bring a sled to the hill at Wilkeson Pointe!

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