You know that when it comes to the new year, celebrating with a dinner and a movie just won't do.
"New Year's Eve has a romantic history starting with it being a classic date night rife with parties and reserve ahead restaurant tables, and ending with the big kiss at midnight," says relationship expert April Masini.
It's built for romance — epic romance. And the pressure can lead to epic planning failures, or cheesy gestures that don't hit home with your loved one. So this year, make a plan that's way better than any party and will have lasting meaning, without being too cheesy. Here are three such expert-approved plans to get you started.
1. Adopt a pet.
If you've been longing for a furry friend, start 2017 off with a commitment to a dog or cat in need. Visit your local shelter, a foster program, or rescue facility, and "start the year with a wonderful new addition that you've adopted together," says Masini. Of course, "do think long and hard about how you'll be with a new pet," she says. After all, "this isn't a decision to make impulsively," Masini reminds us. "But if you're ready, what a great, romantic choice for the new year."
2. Test out a new cuisine.
Calling all adventurous eaters: New Year's Eve is the perfect time to test out a new cuisine — in your own kitchen. "Pick something that you've never cooked before — whether it's an Indian curry, a soufflé, or a leg of lamb — and have fun by creating your own, personal program," suggests Masini. The key here is to not just eat a lovely meal, she says, but to learn to prepare something new, together. "Get creative and think about meals you've always wanted to have, but haven't," she says, "or have always wanted to learn to cook, but haven't." And if your experiment goes well, you'll have a new go-to dish to turn to all year long.
3. Make a time capsule.
You've heard of time capsules: Collections of meaningful items from a period of your life packed into a tin or box and buried in the ground to be unearthed at a later date. So this year, make a time capsule of 2016, and say goodbye to all the meaningful things between you and your partner.
"This is a great activity because it really stimulates your memory and your thoughts about the relationship over the past year," says Masini. "You'll have the opportunity to cherish the most special memories, and preserve them in some way in a time capsule that you bury." If you enjoy doing this together, you can repeat the tradition each year. And worst case, you've got a plan for 2030: unburying this year's box.