Don't waste your long weekend

Don't end up here
photo courtesy flickr user Felipe Venancio

(MoneyWatch) Weekends are more precious than we think. If you live to be 80, you'll get fewer than 4,200 weekends to enjoy, and you likely don't remember at least a tenth of those. But long weekends? Especially after you start working, these are truly rare and valuable sets of days -- time when you can go on an adventure or plan something big without having to trade in vacation time (or, if you work for yourself, explain to your clients where you are).

Yet when I've been asking people lately what they'll be doing for the President's Day weekend, many have shrugged. Oh, nothing much. Or, same old same old. Or, worse, we'll use it to get caught up on chores. Really? You get just a few long weekends a year and you want to use this one to clean out your garage?

Here are some better ideas:

Plan the best date night ever. Today is Valentine's Day. Why not celebrate this weekend? Try to enlist extended family for help, drop the kids off overnight, and do dinner, dancing or a comedy club, a night at a hotel and a kid-free brunch in the a.m. It's like you're dating all over again!

Plan an outdoor adventure. Up north it will be the most crowded ski weekend of the year (though if you don't mind crowds, it may be a good weekend too). But you could also drive south to somewhere just warm enough and go hiking or biking and camping, and feel a little crazy doing so in February.

Try some R&R. Rent a beach house for the weekend (the competition won't be stiff during the off-season!) and brave the wind and cold for a soothing walk by the water. If you're near a town with hotels, use the spas liberally, if only to warm up in the sauna.

Do a mini family reunion. Lots of cousins under one roof for the weekend, with lots of adults splitting the cooking. What could be more fun?

Go foodie. You can do this one at home. Challenge yourself to make three fabulous meals, like something Julia Child would do. Revel in the shopping and chopping. Go out to eat for the other meals somewhere fabulous. Then exercise like crazy in between to burn it all off.

Any of these will make for a memorable President's Day weekend than doing nothing -- and that's the point. What good are weekends that you don't remember afterward? Life can't only happen on vacations, and we have fewer weekends than we think.

What will you be doing this long weekend?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Felipe Venancio