How to Survive Valentine's Day

Forget the reservations and set menu prices and stay at home
Forget the reservations and set menu prices and stay at home

If you've ever had your romantic status (be it single or taken) publicized, thanks to family, friends, and social networking, you know how annoying it can be. Valentine's Day can be especially invasive. Yes, it can be particularly bad for the single or recently spurned; but to be fair, with set menus, define-the-relationship expectations, and obscene prices, it's no fun for couples, either.

This year, grab Cupid by his little horns and entertain at home instead of going out. Here's how.

1. For Couples Only
Pack a picnic! I'm blessed to live in California, where in February it can be a balmy 60 degrees at the beach. Husband and I like to celebrate with a (slightly illegal) bottle of wine, fruit, and cheese on the beach in Santa Barbara, then find a bar where we can enjoy a drink indoors without set menu prices or crazy reservations. If outdoors isn't an option, a picnic in the den before a roaring fire is just as nice.

If you're recovering financially from the holidays, agree to give handmade gifts or set a $20 limit. Guys: if you're giving the girlfriend jewelry that's not an engagement ring, DO NOT gift it in a box. Find a cute alternative to gift it, such as putting it on her, or putting it on a stuffed animal.

Menu: Fruit and cheese board, dark chocolate, mini tea sandwiches.

Bar: Wine.

Click here to see the 11 Great Gifts for Food-Loving Valentines Slideshow

2. For A Mix of Couples
Relieve everyone of the pressure of Valentine's Day by hosting a Fancy Dress Party. Invite other couples to a party at your house. Stress on the invite to dress up so that guests feel excited about the evening. A Vintage or Mad Men theme works great for this kind of a party. Play a mix of danceable, upbeat, and romantic songs. Decorate with paper heart cut-outs and vintage online print-outs. Set up a backdrop of pink paper, streamers, or cardboard painted with hearts for couples to take photos in front of.

Menu: Pigs in blankets, meat and veggie kebabs, green salad, cheese and fruit or veggie tray, brownies, and cupcakes with pink icing and red hots.

Bar: Spiked Punch, prosecco, or champagne.

Click here for A Romantic Valentine's Day at Home

3. For Lonely Hearts
Singles, host a Sad Sack party for other singles and the recently spurned. Bonus: Make it a sleepover and have a group cuddle while affirming each other. Provide a fireplace, fire pit, or stove burner with an ash bowl where guests can burn photos and letters from ex lovers. (Just keep a fire extinguisher handy.)

Menu: Heart-shaped cookies broken in half, heart-shaped cake stabbed through with a knife, voodoo gingerbread men and women cookies stabbed with toothpicks, and comfort food such as casseroles, lasagna, or Swedish meatballs.

Bar: Bloody Marys; Mind Erasers; beers with tears in them.

Slideshow: What to Do When You Arrive Solo

Beretta Fleur is a Los Angeles-based blogger writing about entertaining and homekeeping. She is currently working on her first book, due out in late 2012.

- Beretta Fleur, The Daily Meal

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