|Try a double date on Valentine's Day for extra laughs. (Shutterstock)
Lots of guys think Valentine's Day is a racket.
It's perceived, possibly correctly, as an elaborate, organized scam perpetrated by the greeting card companies and chocolate makers to squeeze sex protection money from the wallets of men.
Women also have a love-hate relationship with Valentine's Day. Our hopes for Hollywood-style romantic gestures sometimes leave us feeling disappointed when our guy fails to live up to the hype.
And for single women, there is no day we dread more.
But it doesnít have to be this way. Guys hoping to impress a special woman this year donít need to spend more; they need to think moreÖ as in, execute a fun, offbeat, one-of-a-kind date that will have her Tweeting her pals while smugly thinking she has landed the prince of her dreams.
As for singles, there is simply no reason to sit at home alone and mope. Valentineís Day is actually an ideal day to mingle with single friends and maybe even bank some karma.
With this in mind, Lavalife presents great Valentineís Day Ideas for Singles and Couples.
1. Bon appťtit, baby
Skip the expensive, impersonal and overcrowded restaurant scene altogether. Instead, select a dinner either from a cookbook you have never tried or from a perennial fave. Shop for the ingredients and prepare dinner together. Up the ambience quotient by choosing a national cuisine - say Spanish, French or Portuguese - then pair with wine, music, even clothing style from that country.
2. See the sights
Be tourists in your own city for a day. Visit a museum or art gallery, go shopping, canoodle on public transit and enjoy lunch or brunch at a local hotspot. Take along a camera and photograph each other at sites you both enjoy or better, at places that remind you of good times you have had together in the past. Create a scrapbook for posterity.
3. Double (or triple) your pleasure
Since when was Valentineís Day declared a proverbial bicycle built for two? If you are a couple - especially a long-term couple - chances are there are other couples in your orbit. Grab one or two others, then head out to a local pizza parlor and sing everybodyís praises over laughs, recollections and Chianti. Widening the circle will help dispel the romantic pressure.
1. Throw an anti-love movie fest
Invite a few single friends, load up on slasher flicks, M&Ms and cheese-corn and camp out on the sofa. Nothing will keep your mind Valentine's Day-free like screaming until you're hoarse and scaring the crap out of yourself and five or six or your closest pals.
2. Vegas, baby
Get some friends together, take a long weekend (and a cheap flight) and head to the most singles-friendly destination on the planet. You can dress to the nines, gorge yourself on 99-cent lobster, and drink all the dwarf-sized rum and Cokes you can wheedle from the casino waitresses. If you do it right, you won't even remember it's Feb. 14. For those on tighter schedules/budgets, consider overnight-ing at a regional casino (and be sure to catch a show).
3. Be a doll and babysit
Finding a babysitter on Valentine's Day is about as complicated as determining the molecular formula of SPAM. Take the pressure off somebody who really needs a little romance in their lives by offering to babysit while they head out for a night on the town. It's not glamorous, but the good karma will follow you around for the rest of the year.