Are you staying home for the holidays this year? Make your holiday as romantic as Christmas boats with these holiday ideas for couples.

Cruising during the holidays is magical. I was lucky enough to take two cruises during the holidays – a Panama Canal cruise on New Year’s Eve, and a Caribbean cruise just before Christmas. On both cruises, my husband and I enjoyed the romance of the ship decorated for Christmas and the special events held during the cruise.

If we stay home this year, let’s not miss out on the romantic holiday. Tanya Zaufi, author of Everything on the Map: Two Lovers, Six Continents and Date with Destiny, knows how to make special occasions fun, engaging and romantic, even if you can’t travel to the places you dream about.

After meeting the love of her life while working on the same cruise ship where scenes from The Love Boat were filmed, she waited 8 years for a chance to build a future with him because they lived on different continents – Tanya has perfected the art of making every moment magical, no matter the circumstances.  And she has a special talent for reproducing the wonderful romance of a Christmas on a cruise ship wherever she goes.

Holiday ideas for couples

Here’s Tanya’s advice for couples who want a holiday that’s just as romantic as the Christmas cruise, even if you stay home.

Decorating Together – Compared to other years, this year seems like the perfect year to get into Christmas decorating. Christmas is one of the biggest events on a cruise ship. The entire ship is lit up like the world’s largest Christmas raft.

So bring the Christmas glow of the Fun Cruise into your home. Put on some Christmas music, make a hot toddy and decorate together by putting up lights, stockings and extra ornaments. The extra flashing lights will fill you with joy and fun.

Be creative. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Offer a meaningful homemade greeting card, perhaps with a creative photo. Create a special memory book for your loved one, filled with photos of adventures you’ve had together and add fun captions. It will tug at your heartstrings and overflow with so much love.

Thoughtful gestures – Surprise them with breakfast in bed or a special cup of coffee during the holidays. It can be something as simple as sweeping snow off your car in the morning.

Make a list of naughty and nice things – Write seductive notes about the naughty and nice things you like about your partner and spread them around the house. Or hold a scavenger hunt with your love notes that leads them to a pack of underwear or to you in the bedroom at the end. Make an Advent calendar with a different note for each day.

Organize a romantic evening – invite your loved one to your home for dinner or wine and cheese. Have fun – create a warm atmosphere; light Christmas lights and candles, listen to festive music, enjoy the warmth of a fireplace, dress romantically – add some spice. Plan a winter picnic indoors by the fire or a picnic on the beach under the stars. This can create desire in both of you.

Stateroom up – Imagine your room is a cabin on the Love Boat. Hang Christmas lights and decorations on it. Sit back and enjoy aphrodisiacs (oysters, figs or chocolate) and sip champagne in your bunk (bed).

Movie Night or Book Night – Create a warm atmosphere with your decor and light the fireplace, grab a cozy blanket, treat yourself to delicious tropical drinks and tasty snacks and snuggle up together while watching a romantic holiday movie or reading a book of your choice (maybe my book) side by side. Sometimes the best way to get in the mood for love is to enjoy a great love story together.

Christmas socks. Merry Christmas, baby! Write your partner love coupons that can only be redeemed by you. Again: Be creative, design thoughtful gift cards, add spice and romance to gift cards, or give gift cards that can be shared.

Play together – If you live in the cold north, play in the snow together; build a snowman or go sledding. But if you live in the mud – play together at the beach, build sandcastles and play in the water. Keep these moments simple and fun; it’s okay to act a little crazy and laugh like kids. When you get home, you can warm up or cool down together ……

How to make the holidays romantic

There should be those desperate romantic moments. All these memories are eternal treasures of the heart! Love like there’s no tomorrow! Some of these tips can make you fall in love again OR remind you why you fell in love in the first place.

One of the most touching gifts I have ever received was from a distant love. We lived on two different continents, so he sent me a package with a message in a bottle – he wrote a love letter and literally took the time to burn the edges, put the scribbled letter in a bottle tied with a red ribbon, accompanied by a long-haired dried red rose and a telling Message in a Bottle CD with Edwin McCain’s song I Could Not Ask for More.

We were thousands of miles apart, but in that moment, no! His gesture melted my heart and I will always cherish it.

Tanya Zaufi, author of All Over the Map, is a travel industry veteran who has worked in hotels, ski resorts, and on ships operated by major cruise lines.  An avid traveler, she has visited or traveled to dozens of memorable places, from the Austrian Alps to the Caribbean and from Greece to Australia – her favorite places. Visit them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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