Warm up this Valentine’s Day with board games and complementary cocktails at the cottage

chess-board-with-hearts Photo by Kirill Kurashov/Shutterstock

No matter whether you’ve been together for 20 days or 20 years, maintaining a sense of playfulness is key to a great relationship.

This Valentine’s Day, bust out the cocktail shaker and snuggle up for a night of board games at the cottage.

The Game: Bananagrams

Scrabble is a great cottage game, until somebody lays down a two-letter word like ZA (which yes, is a playable word) and is accused of cheating. Prevent an argument by playing Bananagrams instead. The lovechild of Scrabble and Boggle, this word game sees opponents create crossword-style arrangements with their tiles.

 Pair with: Dirty Banana Cocktail

Photo courtesy of blog.cocktailkit.com

Skip the sickly sweet banana liqueur and opt for the real thing instead. With coffee and rum flavours, this drink will have you on top of your game.

The Game: Monopoly

A cottage classic, Monopoly is designed for multiple players, but can be surprisingly fun with just two people trying to bankrupt one another. (Some suggested rule modifications here.)

 Pair with: Income Tax Cocktail

Photo courtesy of thekitchn.com

First created in the 1920s, this cocktail is made with gin, juice and bitters (the latter being the same taste left in your mouth by tax season). If you’re winning the game though, we recommend just having a standard gin and juice and channeling your inner Snoop Dogg.

The Game: Carcassonne

A Euro-style strategy game, Carcassone regularly tops lists of best games for couples. Named for the medieval fortified town of Carcassonne in southern France, players build their empire by laying down tiles.

Pairs with: Mulled Wine

Photo courtesy of JamieOliver.com

Pay homage to Carcassonne’s historical roots with a traditional European wintertime drink.

The Game: Chess

No explanation of this classic two-person strategy game is needed — and chances are, you’ve already got a chessboard stashed away somewhere at the cottage.

Pair with: Checkerboard Melon Salad

Photo courtesy of www.curlygirlkitchen.com

As beautiful as it is refreshing, this salad almost looks like a Rubik’s Cube. If you’re having trouble tracking down melons, you could also serve up checkerboard sandwiches instead.

The Game: Battleship

Don’t be too quick to dismiss this as a child’s game. After all, is there any greater pleasure in life than yelling “I sunk your battleship!” at your partner?

Pair with: The Perfect Storm Cocktail


Photo courtesy of MarthaStewart.com

According to Martha Stewart, this is a cool weather upgrade on the “classic boater’s beverage.” Similar to a Dark & Stormy, the Perfect Storm includes apple cider and vanilla bean flavours.

The Game: Conversation Jenga

For the ultimate Valentine’s Day activity, DIY your own “Conversation Jenga.” Write thought-provoking questions on each block (some suggestions here), which you ask as you successfully draw from the stack. Conversation Jenga is a great way to build intimacy with your partner.

Pair with: Jenga Veggie Tower with Cilantro Dip 

Photo courtesy of www.flourarrangements.org

As fun to make as it is to eat, this stack of vegetables has meat and cheese thrown in for good measure.

The Game: Jigsaw Puzzles

While not a game per se, puzzling with your partner is a pleasurable way to work together and pass a winter’s evening away — provided that nobody is colour-blind.

Pair with: Cookie Jigsaw Puzzle

Photo courtesy of www.honeycatcookies.co.uk

There are a number of variations on this idea — you can even buy custom cookie cutters to turn your dough into a puzzle. For bonus points, you can ice the “puzzle” with a special secret message for your sweetie.


Designed for two players, this is considered one of the most popular games in the English-speaking world. All you need is a deck of cards and cribbage board — or, failing that, a pen and paper to keep score.

Pair with: The Skunkboy Cocktail 


Photo courtesy of thelarsonhouse.com

There’s no better feeling than when you manage to “skunk” your opponent at crib. So it only makes sense to pair this game with a skunk-theme cocktail! While it may not sound enticing, this yummy drink is actually a boozy root beer float.

The Game: Rummy

For novice and entry-level card players, rummy is a quick and easy game to learn. You only need two people to play with a round taking around 15 minutes.

Pair with: Rummy Hot Chocolate

Photo courtesy of cardinalspirits.com

Well, c’mon — did you really think we were going to pair rummy with a tequila-based drink? Any rum cocktail will do, but we think it’s best to keep the game going with a warm drink.

The Game: Hive

Often compared to a quick game of chess, this game doesn’t need a board and only takes about 15 minutes to play — which is part of the reason it regularly ranks as one of the best games for couples. Bug-themed, the goal is to capture the opponent’s queen bee.

Pair with: Bee’s Knees Cocktail

Photo courtesy of www.saveur.com

Combine honey, lemon and gin with this strategy game. It’s truly the bee’s knees.

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