Want to turn this routinely sappy, Hallmark holiday into a hot night full of fabulous friends, fun and men? Robin Gorman Newman, author of How to Meet a Mensch in New York, is here to help. Follow her top 10 tips for having fun -- with and without a man -- and make this Valentine's Day your best one yet.
1. Be an attention-getter: If you're hoping to dine a deux this Valentine's Day (or soon after), now is the time to get busy attracting a new guy. To attract the opposite sex, nothing works better than an interesting prop. Take a cute dog for a walk. If you don't have one, borrow a friend's -- they'll be glad to skip the chore. Or head out wearing a sweatshirt with an interesting logo, a funky scarf or amusing hat. Just be sure there's something about you someone (namely, a man) can easily strike up a conversation about. This saves them the trouble of having to think of an original one-liner and you the pain of listening to a lousy pick-up line.
2. Throw a "new blood" party: Invite your friends, and ask them each to invite one member of the opposite sex who they're not dating, haven't dated in the past and aren't interested in dating. This allows you and all of your single friends to mingle with a new crowd that's somewhat familiar. It takes the edge off socializing. You could also introduce a fun game to your soiree. As each guest enters, give all the men bolts in varying sizes and all the women nuts in varying sizes. The idea is for everyone to find their perfect fit by the end of the evening. This is a fun, creative and, yes, incredibly silly way to encourage conversation and new beginnings.
3. Scope the scene: Parties aren't the only place to meet your Valentine. Look at the event listings in your local newspaper. If a bookstore is having a reading by the author of a relationship book, be sure to attend. When I speak about my book How to Meet a Mensch in New York in public, the audience is always filled with single men and women. You can also meet available men at lectures, wine tastings, street fairs and other special events.
4. Pick up the phone: If you really want to take dating into your own hands, go through your address book in search of single men. Call up a close friend you've always had a thing for and schedule a dinner date before Valentine's Day. Make contact with an old flame. Give a guy you dated a few months ago another chance. If you're nervous about calling, sending email is a simple, effective way to open the lines of communication. Sometimes Mr. Right is right under your nose -- or simply buried in your little black book.
5. Keep things simple: If you have a date with a new man on Valentine's Day, don't overdo it. Keep things simple and understated. Let your date know that you don't expect to go someplace extravagant. You just want to be with him and enjoy his company at a casual spot. Don't be afraid to discuss your plans. Your date will appreciate your broaching the subject -- that way, he won't have to decide what to do all by himself (and worry about whether he made the right decision). Save the romantic venues for when you're an "official" couple. Another option: Plan a group outing with other new couples. This takes the pressure off the status of the two of you and will lighten the occasion.
6. Avoid card and candy stores: This is one time of year when it's wise to steer clear of such specialty shops. Why pack yourself in with all those lovey-dovey Valentine's Day shoppers? It will only leave you feeling empty. Even if it means taking a different route to work or to the gym, bypass all Hallmark and Godiva locations. Who knows, when you vary your routine and your route (and smile at a handsome stranger), Mr. Right could suddenly cross your path.
7. Throw an all-girls theme party: Valentine's Day isn't a couples-only holiday. Orchestrate a girls' night get-together where everyone brings a grab-bag gift. Set a price limit. If you want, come up with a theme, such as Single and Loving It, or Relax. Your guests can bring their favorite books, girl-powered movies (think Thelma and Louise or Shirley Valentine), scented soaps and so on. It's a real feel-good evening, made even more special with close friends and great gifts. You can also have a "makeover" party, where everyone brings their favorite beauty product and guests experiment by mixing and matching cosmetics and making each other over.
8. Celebrate your loved ones: Valentine's Day is the perfect time to focus on all the loved ones in your life. Send a card to a close friend or family member to celebrate your relationship and express all that they mean to you. Now is the time to treasure all the love you have in your life. (To send an iVillage postcard, click here.)
9. Be good to yourself: What better occasion than Valentine's Day to send yourself some flowers? And because you're doing the ordering, you can receive your favorite blooms. Or, if you simply love chocolate and are feeling decadent, treat yourself to a big box of assorted sweets. Take pleasure in biting each one to see what's inside. Looking for more ways to indulge? A massage is a great way to go. Call up your local spa or health club and make a Valentine's Day appointment. Your body and soul will thank you.
10. Prepare to party like a pro: Whether you throw a Valentine's Day party or attend one, you want to be relaxed, confident and in the mood. To get yourself in the party mindset (or to just enjoy the ultimate evening at home), pamper yourself. Take an aromatherapy bubble bath, play your favorite music, light some candles, paint your toenails red and so on. If you're heading out to a co-ed bash, invite some girlfriends over early for a pre-party toast. Go, girls -- this is your night!