If you celebrate Valentine’s day at all, you know how tricky it gets. With roses and a dinner you risk being called cheesy (personal opinion: be cheesy, everyone loves roses and a dinner). If you decide to skip the gifting, you risk being called a bad boyfriend and left to sleep alone for the next 364 days. So, being stuck between a rock and a hard place, what do you do?

Everyone loves a handmade gift, or so people say. The truth is, it depends if that handmade gift is nice. Otherwise it’s something that’s just something your boyfriend has to keep on the shelf and dust until the end of his life. Therefore I suggest handcrafting an experience instead. How about giving your deserving partner a DIY Valentine’s Day massage? It might have a happy ending for you both.

So here’s how you do it right.

What’s your partner like?

Before you plan out the massage down to the last stroke, think about the person who will be receiving it. What’s he like? If he likes heavy, old-fashioned romance, you might want to go all-in with a bath full of rose petals and love poetry. If he’s less keen on that sort of thing, keep it subtle instead and let your touch do the talking. We’ll include some tips on how to make a regular massage more romantic, and you can “tone it up” or “down” as befits your relationship dynamic and your partner’s preferences.

Does your partner have a spot that’s particularly sore/tense? You could adapt the massage to focus on this area more.

Learn the basics

If what you’re gifting is a massage, get this part right. Which means you need to put in a bit of preparatory work. You can make it fun for yourself too by booking a short massage course, but if you’re pressed for time and/or money, consider buying an inexpensive online course from a site like Udemy or just watching some tutorials on Youtube.

Give your Valentine’s Day massage a professional feel

Regardless of how many different strokes you have memorised, or how long you have been practising for, there are some ‘shortcuts’ that can give your massage that professional feel. Here are a few:

  • Slow down. You know how people kissing or having sex for the first time rush way too much? Same goes for massage. Your partner has to be able to enjoy each stroke, so keep it slow.
  • Connect your strokes. Make it difficult to tell where a stroke begins or ends. If you are going up the body, rotate your hands without lifting them off the body and move downwards or outwards and onto the arm. When lifting one hand off, place the other one down first. Make it feel like a continuous, connected movement.
  • Sometimes, when you’re pressing down deeper, ‘freeze’ for a few seconds. This will allow the muscle to relax.
  • Keep your partner’s body warm by covering it with a towel or bath sheet. Uncover only the part that you are working on.
  • Remember that massage, like exercise, requires a warm up. Start with long, flowing strokes.

Think about each of the senses

man holding a rose in his teeth

Is in-your-face romance the sort of thing that your partner likes?

A rounded sensory experience is key to a sensual Valentine’s Day massage. After all, it’s supposed to be a feast for the senses! You can mix-and-match the following tips according to your preferences. I’m leaving ‘taste’ out as it’s less relevant for our purposes.

Smell

You can add scent to the bath water, the massage oil/lotion or the room (by using room fragrance or incense). Consider using romantic essential oils, such as rose or ylang ylang. If you are using a face mask or a blindfold for your partner, it can also be lightly scented. Pick carefully and avoid adding fragrance to everything, or your partner might feel overwhelmed. If spraying the room, air it a little afterwards so the scent doesn’t hang ‘heavy’.

Sight

Create a pleasant environment. Remove clutter and light candles, which will ‘soften’ the contours of things. Consider what you will be wearing if your partner is to feast his eyes on you. If you will be undressing partway through the massage, will your partner be allowed to help? Or would you rather blindfold your partner entirely?

Hearing

What kind of background music will you choose? It could be natural sounds, such as a fireplace crackling or forest sounds, oriental instrumental music or just your favourite song. Music with lyrics could be a distracting, so choose wisely. Don’t go with a Titanic soundtrack unless you want it to feel like a 50 quid brothel. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Touch

Will you let your partner touch your or does he have to keep his hands to himself? Will you use aids for your massage, such as pieces of fur or silk, massage sticks or rollers? Will you be using your mouth (if so, consider edible massage oil)?

Remember to trim your fingernails!

What about the pressure?

The rule of thumb is: go medium where you have lots of muscle (back, legs, arms) and ask your partner if he would like you to apply more pressure. Starting out too soft is better than having him writhe in pain. Go very soft on the stomach, applying long flowing strokes and next to no pressure. If your partner is ticklish, use the flat of your palm and apply more pressure (so no fine fingerwork).

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be perfect

Let’s face it, your Valentine’s Day massage probably will not live up to the professional standard. And yet, your partner might find it more enjoyable, because a lover’s touch has its own magic. So remember that even if things don’t turn out quite the way you imagined them, it’s a gift that shows you care. After all, it’s not something you grabbed last minute on the way home, but a carefully planned and executed event. You can always throw in the roses and a dinner afterwards…there is no such thing as too much!

Finally, if you have to buy the present instead, gift the guy in your life a massage by one of our handsome and talented masseurs. He will appreciate it.