During the 1940s, Glenn Miller and his pals used to get people “In the Mood” for love with clarinets, saxophones and trombones.
Brass and woodwinds aren’t the best options for Valentine’s Day in 2011. Setting a romantic mood for the midwinter day reserved for red takes a little more creativity.
Greg Godek knows.
The author of “1001 Ways to be Romantic” said there are easy ways men and women can put zing to the strings of each other’s hearts. Flowers always work, especially around Feb. 14.
“Give her a dozen roses and tell the florist to give you 11 red roses and one white rose,” said Godek, who lives in San Diego. “Here’s the note: It says something like ‘In every bunch, there’s one that stands out. You are that one.’ Now that’s romantic.”
Setting a mood before a Valentine’s dinner or trip can also include a love letter. “For half an hour, put your feelings on paper, on nice parchment,” Godek said. “She’s not going to care if you’re a good writer or not. And texting doesn’t count, digital doesn’t count. It has to be pen on paper, and it has to be mailed.”
Godek said romantics are fortunate that Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday this year. That means people might take a vacation day on Feb. 14, and begin their Cupid-inspired activities on Friday or Saturday night.
“I like a series of events or a series of gifts,” Godek said. “Like a movie festival, her favorite movies or genre of movies, all weekend long. You just hide out together, watching every Barbra Streisand movie ever made. Clear things away, hide the phone. Something like that spread out over time is really fun.”
Frank Gallo Jr., who operates the three Frank Gallo and Son Florist flower shops in Schenectady and Rotterdam, prefers buds over Babs to set the proper mood.
“As far as flowers are concerned, people try to find different things to send every year,” he said. “Every year, the most common flowers we sell are dozens of red roses for Valentine’s Day.”
But people know more about flowers than they used to, he said. They know there are other options besides flowers. “We get requests for orchids, lilies and iris for Valentine’s Day,” he said. “A dozen white roses is really a nice alternative. So are calla lilies, more of an expensive flower, they’re very rich-looking, white on a tall, green stalk.”
Gallo believes a presentation of flowers helps turn up the mood for romance. “If you’re going out to dinner, have the flowers delivered to the restaurant,” he said. “That’s a nice surprise and I think it can be really very romantic as well.”
Grandstand play? Sure, Gallo said. “But you win points.”
Candy is a Valentine’s tradition. Bob Pikcilingis, owner of the Candy Kraft store in Guilderland, said candy assortments in heart-shaped boxes have always been big sellers in February. But he said people planning romance can always scatter foil-wrapped candy hearts on beds, sofas or dinner tables.
“Hotels have been doing turn-down service for years by putting chocolates on the pillows,” Pikcilingis said.
Joe Suhrada of Uncle Sam’s All-American Chocolate Factory in Schenectady said fruit and chocolate can team up for a love and romance evening.
“Chocolate-covered strawberries in a heart box,” he said. “A lot of guys will do that in conjunction with champagne.”
Sue Richter believes romantic moods can be established in very little time. Richter, author of “A Guide to Becoming the 60 Second Lover,” said love stays strong if people remain in Valentine mode at all times.
“Keeping romance alive throughout the year is more important than a one-time thought or gesture,” she said.
If men are planning “grandstand plays” with Frank’s roses, they better plan ahead. “Make reservations now,” Richter said. “Nothing is worse than showing up at a restaurant and then having to wait an hour or more for dinner. It gives the appearance dinner was a last-minute thought. Also, check the policy on corkage fees. You might want to bring her favorite wine into the restaurant and pay the corkage fee.”
Dinner at home is one way around the reservation problem. Godek said men — and women — cooking at home can build romantic moments with simple details before the first course. “Don’t forget the candles,” he said. “Not the aromatic candles that might interfere with the flavors of the foods. And wear a suit to dinner — do something out of the ordinary.”
Fire has always been linked to passion and romance. Amy Smith, general manager of the Saratoga Arms — a bed-and-breakfast on Broadway in Saratoga Springs — said four of the hotel’s 30 rooms have gas fireplaces.
“The rooms with the fireplaces and the double whirlpool tubs in the wintertime are always the first to go,” Smith said. “People tend to want to have that cozy, romantic feel, and the fireplace offers that.”
Once the flames are lit, so is the romantic mood.
Intimacy and warmth
“It has intimacy, it has warmth,” Smith said. “A fire automatically exudes togetherness.”
Smith said when her family rehabilitated the Saratoga Arms building in the late 1990s, there were many fireplaces. The Smiths decided to rebuild with gas.
“It was the single biggest expense we did with the local fireplace company to make it look as authentic as possible,” Smith said. “Anybody can have a fireplace, but the authentic feel of a fireplace just adds that much more romance.”
A fire in a bedroom is something many people may not have experienced. “You prop yourself up on a pillow, lying in bed, and there’s fire with the flick of a switch,” said Judy Kennedy, Saratoga Arms’ director of sales and marketing. “They look real. Some fireplaces have that artificial look, but these are very authentic-looking fireplaces.”
Kennedy added that romance can mean breakfast in bed. There are occasional requests for morning room service.
“When you’re coming for a weekend,” Kennedy added, “the last place you want to be is with a bunch of other people.”
Godek said creative thinking is fun when men and women are planning romantic moments. But he said there’s no such thing as a perfect Valentine’s Day weekend. And both men and women are to blame.
“Women’s expectations are too high,” he said. “It’s basically Valentine’s Week, it’s not Valentine’s Day any more. And the average guy in America is just making up for lost time. He’s spent months and months, if not the year, not doing anything romantic.”