All of us have been here: you have either completely forgotten that your "special date night" is tonight or you've known for awhile and have had no time whatsoever to plan anything. Now it's 3PM and your partner is expecting something amazing... and you have nothing. And it's a terrible feeling! Welcome to Last Minute Date Planning 101!
You've got a couple of options: restaurant or no restaurant. Either way, you really don't have a lot of time to do this, so you must make the most of the resources you have on hand. Those will be your phone and your computer.
If you're going with the restaurant option, reservations are a must. Nothing looks more unplanned than going from restaurant to restaurant searching for a table. Two services that will help you out here are OpenTable and Yelp. Go to OpenTable and search for a reservation for 2. It will populate all of the restaurants that have reservation space. It's super easy to book a table.
If you're unfamiliar with the restaurant, cross-reference it on Urbanspoon and read the reviews. Don't forget that your favorite restaurants might have reservation space that they don't list online. So if you're set on a place you might be able to call them and get in, especially if you try to book for a late time.
If all you can find is a 9pm table, don't panic. Head downtown and grab a drink first. You can take a wander around Gastown which is especially beautiful at night. A walk there can be part of the "plan". Or head to one of the beautiful hotel bars. They're nice and a lot of them will have space at the bar (again, call ahead to see if you can reserve, or to get an idea of how full it is).
Don't forget the little things! Honestly, these are the details that show your date how thoughtful you are and how much effort you put in (even if it was all last minute!). And therefore these are the things that make your date feel special.
Call the restaurant and tell the hostess that you are celebrating (birthday, anniversary etc). This one is always hard for my partner because he hates asking for anything free! If that makes you uncomfortable be more subtle about it. I usually ask if the kitchen can write something on our dessert (that I buy) or put a candle in it. That will clue them in to your celebration without expectation of anything free.
Lastly, call your florist. Explain your situation and ask what they can do with your budget and time-frame. By the time you get there your bouquet will be made, which saves you time and stress.
If you've decided a restaurant won't cut it for your night out (or in) I strongly suggest a picnic. If you're a regular reader you'll know that I'm a huge fan of picnics. One of the great things about them is that you can do them outside (if the weather is nice) or inside (if it's not) and they're romantic either way.
Considering your time frame, don't plan to buy things from too many different places. In fact, don't bother putting it together yourself. Call your favorite deli and find out what they've got on hand, or what they can make for you in the time you give them. Try somewhere with a full range of gourmet goodies, so you can get your desserts, fancy sandwiches and appies in one stop. I recommend The Dirty Apron for this. You can even pick up a gift there if your date is a cooking enthusiast. Make sure you ask for all the disposable cutlery, plates, napkins, cups etc that they have. The less you have to remember the better.
You can't have a picnic date without wine! Well I suppose you can but really... why would you want to? Call your nearest cold beer and wine store and ask them for a recommendation. Or, if you have a favorite bottle, see if it's in stock. Then get them to put it aside so you don't have to hunt. Don't forget if it's a white you should specify you need it to be cold! I recommend Legacy Liquor Store for this. Their staff is super friendly and knowledgeable. (I think I have to tell you now that you're not allowed to drink wine on public beaches or in parks... FYI).
Last but not least, make a driving plan before you leave your office. Remember to hit your deli, liquor store, and florist on the way home. If you're going out grab a blanket or two and anything you need that the deli didn't provide.
Despite only having 2 hours, this date will look like you've been planning it for weeks. Just remember, the internet and the phone are your new best friends. Don't spend your precious time driving from place to place!
If neither of these options interests you, check out Tickets Tonight Vancouver and see what's on sale. They even have 1/2 price same-day tickets. The catch: you have to purchase them in person at the Tourism Office downtown.
Have you ever had to scramble around to plan something last minute? I'd love to hear all about it! Do you have any other last minute date ideas in Vancouver (or generally?). Please leave a comment below and share this article! Thanks for reading and, as always, you can connect with me over social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.