Valentine’s date night changing for the new generation

The decorations are all good and pretty – but are people still willing to pay more to buy this at a restaurant this Valentine's Day?

The decorations are all good and pretty – but are people still willing to pay more to buy this at a restaurant this Valentine’s Day?
(Photo by Cait Carter/ The Sheridan Sun)


You’re sitting down in a booth, having just hung up your coat. The mood is set with half-dimmed lights and candles, the walls adorned with red and pink decorations. As you look around the table you notice that your server has laid down the Valentine’s Day menu for the night – a combination of aperitifs, appetizers and entrees meant to entice you with their aphrodisiac properties.

Let’s be real though, you’re more intimidated by the price next to each item.

You may not be making oysters Rockefeller at home, but whatever you make would be cheaper than this. You could dress in your favourite onesie, cuddle up on the couch and spend time with your partner in private.

In fact . . . what are you still doing here?!

We all know about how this started. St. Valentine performed weddings for soldiers who were forbidden from marriage, and was killed for his actions. Or maybe he was helping persecuted Christians and wrote the first valentine for his jailer’s daughter . . .  well, we all know it’s a “Hallmark holiday”.

Origins aside, the story of Valentine’s Day today is easy.

You go out with your date, grab a nice dinner at the nicest restaurant you can think of, go out to a nice movie, exchange nice cards and nice presents and have a nice night.

It’s nice.

It’s on every television program, every advertisement at every store – heck, they made a movie about it. Who could ignore the tradition of Valentine’s Day?

“I think it’s a little overrated,” said Elisha Seo, 22. “I would much prefer to cook dinner together at home and then head out for a fun activity. Most restaurants are going to be super, super busy on the 14th anyways, and it’s going to be super loud. I’d like to hear my boyfriend.”

Seo, and many other people of her generation are starting to question tradition and look for something a little more intimate.


“I hate loud, crowded places so going out to dinner on one of the busiest nights of the year is not my idea of a good time,” said Seo. “I would love to make dinner at home and spend quality time together.”

On the other hand, some people just don’t care like they used to.

“How I spend Valentine’s Day isn’t something I spend too much time thinking about. Its all cute and sweet, all the extra attention – but not anything I would get worked up about,” said Elizabeta Stamenković, 23.

“It can be a nice day to go out, but if we’re feeling lazy we can just go out on any other night.”

The millennial generation is proving time again that the norm needs to change. With our world becoming more technology-based, relationships are changing too.

Seo’s relationship is long-distance, making quality time more important.

“We’ve only had one Valentine’s Day together, and due to conflicting schedules weren’t able to actually be together physically… we both ordered the same food and Skype-d while we ate dinner because it made it seem like we were together. We watched Netflix and pressed play at the same time. It wasn’t the best Valentine’s Day, but it was still special to us and we spent the night with each other.”

Valentine’s Day is an expensive holiday, too. People spent $18.9 billion globally on the holiday in 2015 on flowers, cards and gifts.

Most first relationships start in people’s 20s. While a student or new to the job market, its hard to find affordable places to splurge.

“I prefer to go out, but I’d choose somewhere more casual and not too expensive. As long as the food is good,” said Hillary Gamper, 27. “We still celebrate it, but we’re not guilty of spending a lot of money.”

And then there’s the issue of time.

Tyler Hallam, 24, is the sous chef at Taste Marketeria. Having worked in the industry for years, he’s had his share of working Valentine’s Day, making meals for every other couple instead of seeing his girlfriend.

“I’ve never been able to totally get involved. Mostly it’s been a really busy work day,” said Hallam. “I don’t get it off, so its never fun to look forward to. By the time I finish I have to go home and whip something up quick.”

Is this what St. Valentine pictured when he wrote that first valentine? Probably not.

And while millennials seem to be looking for something different this year, the industry is still booming. Couples manage to make restaurants three to four times busier than the average night on this holiday, no matter who wants to stay in.

“Everyone has a different way of celebrating holidays especially Valentine’s Day. No two couples are going to be the same,” said Gamper.