kristy holland

A fter a slow start, winter is finally finding its way to the Front Range.

Is it because of the midweek dusting? "White Christmas" playing in the background of stores all over town? The relaxed, holiday-style pace of everything post-finals? Or maybe the bell-ringers outside grocery stores?

No matter the cause of the winter-wonderland feeling in the air, you should take advantage of it to make a sentimental impression with your love interest. If you're lucky enough to steal a few days -- or even hours -- of pre-holiday time with your woman, get her cheeks glowing with a festive night on the town.

What's that? You haven't bought a gift for her yet? Take her on one of these date-nights-to-remember and you can wrap yourself in a bow and wax poetic about "experiential giving." After all, spending time together is a better way to bond than buying her some silly trinket... right? Right. Sound convincing, and tell her that sharing an experience is priceless.

For a double-whammy of sensitivity-meets-holiday spirit, that comes complete with a take-home trinket, show your artistic side with an evening of painting at PoshSplat (1468 Pearl St.; poshsplat.com). This Saturday's ($35; 6:30-9 p.m.) model masterpiece is an aspen scene called "Fresh Snow," and the two and a half-hour painting session includes all the materials and supplies you need to recreate it, plus basic instruction about brushes, techniques and paint mixing from a hands-on instructor. You can recreate the peaceful snow scene -- or just swirl colors on a blank canvas while you partake in the studio's $12 bottles of wine or $3 beers. Either way, your woman will appreciate the time you spend together, and having a last-minute gift to give her grandma (the painting).

If you're up for something a little more physical -- and a chilly outing isn't a total turnoff for your lady friend -- hit up one of the two ice rinks in town. The downtown Ice Rink at One Boulder Plaza (1801 13th St.; bouldericerink.com) puts you close to Pearl Street's action and has open skating from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the entire weekend ($5 for unlimited one-day skating, $3 for skate rentals), so you could make your itinerary work with whatever her pre-holiday schedule allows.

Winterskate, the rink at the 29th Street Mall (1710 29th St.; twentyninthstreet.com) also has long weekend hours, and provides easy access to last-minute gift-buying ops and the movie theater. New flicks, Monsters Inc. and The Hobbit, are a great way to warm up after a few spins on the ice. Bonus: If you're there on Saturday, you can get a photo with Santa at the Macy's nearby, and/or snap some pics with a posse of reindeer parked in the plaza from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Just want to be entertained? If you can steal your date away on Sunday evening, the Gold Hill Inn is a super-fun setting for a winter show, courtesy of a triple feature of local singer-songwriters including moody lyricist Gregory Alan Isakov, edgy Reed Foehl who's due to release a new album next spring, and soulful Stewart Lewis. The guitar-strumming begins at 7 p.m., and the show is certain to be one of the best winter offerings from one of the coziest, coolest venues in the county ($25, additional charge for buffet dinner; 303-443-6461).

Kristy Holland writes about date-night ideas once a week for the Colorado Daily. Tell her about your date ideas at boulderdatenight@gmail.com.