A Guide to Surviving Valentine's Day - Whatever your Situation
There's no escaping the signs. Card shops are ablaze with red hearts, roses and teddy bears; florists are taking early orders; and restaurants are booking up fast.
Yes, Valentine's Day has appeared on the horizon and is now heading towards us at a gallop.
But is the most romantic night of the year really all it's cracked up to be?
Let's face it, whether you're single and happy, single and on the hunt, in the first throes of love or settled into a long term relationship, the day can be a nightmare. There are so many hurdles to overcome that Valentine's Day can trip up even the most ardent of lovers.
Valentine's Day and the single woman
The biggest worry here is 'Will anyone send me anything?'. After all, if the postman walks straight past your door on the fourteenth morning in February, it's easy to feel unloved. Even if you're perfectly fine with being free and single every other day of the year.
So, if you ended up crying into your cocoa at five to midnight last year, because you finally had to admit to yourself that the florist really wasn't going to appear with a surprise bunch of flowers, then do something different this year.
Why not get together with other single friends and celebrate your freedom. You could even throw a party for singles only - if it's a mixed event, you never know what might happen.
Or why not just treat yourself? After all you know exactly what makes you feel good. You could order a takeaway and open a bottle of your favourite wine or even Champagne. Toast the fact that you haven't had the hassle of buying tacky gifts and soppy cards or had to look pleased at receiving sexy - yet incredibly uncomfortable - lingerie that is obviously two sizes too small.
Valentine's Day and the single man
Please forgive the stereotype here, as I'm sure that there are plenty of sensitive men out there just waiting for a Valentine's card to drop through the letterbox. If this describes you, then I'd suggest that you read the above advice for single women.
But let's face it, the majority of single men on Valentine's Day (at least those that I've met over the years) are on to a winner.
For a start, they won't be sleeping in the spare room for a month, be given the silent treatment or even have to apologise if they forget about it altogether.
If they do remember and decide to make a romantic gesture to the attractive, yet single (they've checked), new account executive in marketing, they could earn Brownie points that will last for months.
Finally, as Valentine's Day can cause even the most confident and happily single women to have a little wobble about loneliness, single men have a great chance of getting lucky on Valentine's Day. Especially with all those singles parties taking place!
Valentine's Day and the new relationship
This is probably the worst situation to find yourself in; whether you're male or female. There are so many pitfalls that swimming through shark infested water may seem a pleasant alternative.
Yet every couple has to go through their first Valentine's Day. So, we've put together some tips to try and get you through this as unscathed as possible.
If the relationship is in the very early stages, just a few weeks, then a big romantic gesture could be considered over the top and may just scare him or her away.
In this situation it's better to play it safe. Go for a nice card with a pleasant but not too loving message. Avoid the joke cards at all costs, it either says you don't intend to become serious about this relationship or that you're a prat! Sorry, but it's true.
A dozen red roses delivered to his or her place of work might seem like a good idea, but to avoid nosy work-mates and office gossip, at this stage it might be better to deliver them in person away from work.
Suggest a meal at a restaurant, or a fool proof way for men to really impress the new lady in their life, is to offer to cook a romantic meal. It doesn't have to be from scratch as most supermarkets have fresh, ready made meals available. Even a take away - in a candle lit setting and accompanied by Champagne - will be welcomed.
Stick to low cost gifts that you know he or she will like. Perhaps they've mentioned a favourite author or singer. If so, you could buy them the latest book or CD, which shows that you've taken a real interest in them and actually listened.
Valentine's Day and the blossoming relationship
If you've been together for over six months when Valentine's Day arrives and your relationship is going from strength to strength, then it could be time for the grand romantic gesture.
In fact, at this stage of a relationship you could probably get away with anything - apart from forgetting to do anything. That could prove unforgivable.
If money is no object, then the sky's the limit. Literally! Sunset hot air balloon rides or whisking your loved one away for the weekend are all possibilities.
But, especially this year, not everyone has an unlimited budget. Yet, sometimes the most romantic gestures cost nothing. Make the entire day special. Book a day's holiday from work and spend it together. Go for a walk through the park or spend the afternoon watching your favourite films. Cook a meal together and turn your home into an upmarket restaurant with low lighting and candles, making sure that you use the plates that aren't chipped, of course.
You could even dress up as if you were going out and play soft music while you slow dance in the lounge.
Valentine's Day and the longer-term relationship
For married couples and those in long-term relationships, Valentine's Day is unlikely to make or break the relationship unless, of course, the couple is already having problems.
But Valentine's Day is an opportunity to remind your loved one just how much you care about them. If you have children, surprise them by arranging a babysitter and taking them out to the cinema or their favourite restaurant.
Or, if budgets are tight, light some candles and share a bubble bath together, rent a copy of the first film you ever saw as a couple and cuddle up on the sofa together.
Remember; Valentine's Day is about using your imagination. It's the anticipation, the thought and the effort that makes any gesture romantic.
Valentine's Day gifts from Big Fat Balloons
For Valentine's gifts that are sure to put a smile on their face, why not treat the man or woman you love to a fun Valentine's Day balloon, a cuddly Valentine's teddy bear or some delicious chocolates?
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