1. Dinner out
It's hard to beat a nice dinner out for Valentine's Day. But it's easy to fail at this (and end up at Denny's) if you don't make your reservations early. So research your special someone's favorite restaurants--or new ones they might like now. Consider the Northwest-centric Tilth in Wallingford, the Basque-inspired Harvest Vine in Madison Park, or the French cuisine Bastille in Ballard.
Flowers are about as classic as can be for Valentine's Day. Steer towards a local florist operation rather than a big online one. Your flowers will likely be fresher, look better, and last longer. And just like dinner, make sure you are getting your Valentine's order in plenty early--you won't be happy with the selection available on February 13th. Consider Hansen's, among other great local florists. And also consider buying a living plant instead of a cut flower. Just make sure that your living flower of choice can survive.
The last member of the big three. Seattle is a haven for chocolatiers, including Boehm's in Issaquah, the organic, fair trade Theo Chocolate in Fremont (their workshop tour makes another great V-Day outing), and the Pike Place Market's Chocolate Box. And while the vast majority of women (and most men) enjoy chocolate, some don't, so make sure you know your sweetie's sweet tooth before buying.
1. Dinner at Home
Yes, you can make a restaurant quality meal in your own kitchen. And if you at least come close to pulling it off, your Valentine will remember far longer than merely an expensive meal on the town. And while there's no silver bullet recipe to recommend, our About.com cooking guide has a few Valentine's Day recipes to recommend. For best results, make sure you are getting high quality ingredients. Look to your farmer's markets and Pike Place before expanding to the better grocery stores. Meat from a local butcher or fish from a local fish market will increase your chances of success.
2. Classic Cocktail Happy Hour
A great warm up for #1, a cocktail (or two, if you're not driving) between work and that dinner at home will give you both a reason to dress up but keep the price tag on the whole night fairly reasonable. The cocktail culture has exploded in Seattle in the last few years, and you can get a great drink experience at dozens of spots, including Tavern Law or Sun Liquor on Capitol Hill, Tini Biggs in Belltown, or the grand-daddy of them all, Zig-Zag Cafe on the Market Steps.
3. Volunteer together
Studies find one of the best paths to happiness is giving back. This Valentine's Day make you and your Valentine just a little bit happier by making somebody else feel special by volunteering. A great way to give back is with a senior visit. A lot of seniors no longer have their Valentine in their life, so help them make this day a little brighter by contacting one of the great senior organizations in the area and scheduling a V-Day visit.