Social-Distanced Valentine’s Day: Turn Your Car Into a Date Night Oasis

The world has changed since its last rotation around the sun. We are now starting to see the vast trickle-down effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses, such as car manufacturers, have taken the brunt of the hit. But holidays like Valentine’s Day aren’t the same, either.

Getting creative for holidays is the new norm. So, it’s no surprise that with Valentine’s Day around the corner, you may be strapped for ideas on how to make this year’s celebration special.

Thankfully, we’ve got a safe, socially-distanced Valentine’s Day solution. All you’ll need is your car and a few useful items from home.

What is a car date?

An old Valentine's Day card picturing a cartoon boy driving a car while holding a heart with a banner that reads "Take My Heart, Sweet Valentine."
Illustration for a die-cut 1935 Valentine’s Day card featuring young boy driving car | Getty

A car date is the easiest way to have a fun yet safe experience while still enjoying food at your favorite restaurant.

The New York Times detailed how some couples have dated while parked in separate vehicles during the pandemic’s early days. However, we have a way that you can have a memorable Valentine’s Day car date with your special someone.

The COVID-19 pandemic ruined many of the romantic activities we are used to doing on Valentine’s Day. It’s no longer safe to go to a five-star restaurant, book a fancy hotel room, or go to a romantic movie.

No, we have to adjust how we enjoy our time together in a safe way. Enter the concept of the car date.

You can quickly turn your car into a date night oasis. All you need is a few handy accessories, a can-do attitude, and the right partner. Think of your new date-night experience as an adventure, and just about anything can be turned into a romantic getaway. 

A brief guide to your car date essentials 

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Now that you know what a car date is, you’ll need all the right accouterments to set the scene. Most of the items you will likely have on-hand, especially if you have been working from home for any amount of time. 

First, let’s cover the basics. Every car date needs an excellent meal to start it off right. So, you’ll need a few handy items to make your dinner date as seamless as possible. 

To avoid getting overcharged for drinks by price-gouging restaurants, bring your own beverages along for the night. If you want to kick it up a notch, grab some ingredients for some virgin cocktails and make a thermos full of delicious mocktails for the night. Nothing says fancy like a bougie drink in hand. 

Creating the ‘restaurant’ feel

A white table cloth with silverware and glasses on top of it
A table set up for the TV show ‘Emily in Paris’ | Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

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You’ll want to bring your own utensils, napkins, and wet naps. Depending on where you’re going, plastic utensils will either be unwrapped and, therefore, somewhat unsanitary or just annoying to use. You don’t want to cut your steak with a plastic butter knife, right? So, bringing your silverware from home is an absolute must. 

You’ll also want to bring napkins and wet naps, as many restaurants forget to provide these with takeout meals. 

The last item on your list of basics is a lap desk. You know those laptop desks they sell at retail or bookstores for college kids to do their computer work on in their dorm room? It turns out they are also the perfect tray for your Valentine’s Day car date.

This will create a miniature table for you and your date to each have in your seats, making eating much more comfortable. 

The driver may want to slide their seat back for extra space, so the steering wheel doesn’t get in the way. Of course, it helps if you have a very spacious car, as well.

Trust us; you can’t go wrong with this setup.

How to step up your car date even more

A look at the large touchscreen inside a 2019 Ram 1500
2019 Ram 1500 with a 12-inch touchscreen display | Stellantis

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Now that you have the basics down, you may want to take even a few more steps to set the mood for you and your partner this Valentine’s day. Sure, getting a nice meal to go and having all the practical things you need is admirable. But you will want to set the mood for the evening to make your Valentine’s Day car date perfect. 

Music is always a must when it comes to creating the perfect date. That’s why we suggest creating a special playlist to have at the ready for your dinner. Newer car models equipped with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto make this experience is made even easier.

Another way to create the perfect romantic evening is to introduce a calming scent or ambient lighting into the mix. You can do this by getting a new car air freshener or setting up battery-powered tealight candles on the dashboard while you’re eating. 

Just make sure the scent isn’t too overpowering. Something light and refreshing is the best way to go. And if you really want to go all-out, consider hanging some battery-powered string lights in the back seat to flip on while you’re having dinner to create the perfect mood lighting. 

Make your 2021 Valentine’s Day one to remember

A couple kissing during a car date in a blue vintage car
A couple kissing in vintage car | Photo by Christopher Pillitz/Getty Images

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This past year has undoubtedly been one for the history books – not always in the best way. However, there are bright spots to be had, even if you have to create them. That’s why making the most of the moments you have is even more critical than ever. 

Is a car date going to change the world or end the pandemic? No. But it will help you create memories you can carry with you through these challenging times until we experience brighter days again.