Instead of cursing Saint Valentine this year, singles should celebrate him.
Just because you're unattached doesn't mean you have to feel confined to isolation island on Feb. 14. In fact, the holiday of love provides the perfect opportunity to connect with other singles.
"I would tell people that Valentine's Day is actually the best day to go out as a single because you get to know that anyone you're meeting out on that day is actually legitimately single," said Amber Soletti, co-founder of OnSpeedDating and Single and the City, two companies that host events for available New Yorkers.
One way to ensure socializing among singles is to plan a mixer for those without a Valentine this year. "I think what's always a cool idea is to maybe invite all your single friends but then have them each invite either an ex they're still friendly with or another single friend so that it's not just your core group that you're mixing with but that there's actually new people, outside people that you could potentially meet," Soletti said.
As for the setting, Alexandra Hedin, author of "Entertaining At Home" (Sea Script Company, $24.95), recommended holding the party where you live in order to achieve a laid-back atmosphere. "It makes it feel the most relaxed and comfortable and intimate and people feel like they can hang out," she said. "I think sometimes when you go somewhere it gets a little more intimidating. And especially if you're talking about Valentine's Day for singles."
Soletti also suggested reaching out to a lounge to host the party on Valentine's Day, which falls on a Tuesday this year. "That's typically an off night from the bars and stuff," she said. "So you can mention to them that you'll probably have 20 to 30 people and you could probably get a private area."
Decorations can become a tricky part of planning a Valentine's Day singles gathering. Hedin mentioned including certain traditional elements while excluding the most romantic. "Pink and red and purple are fun ways to spice up the house and make it not feel so dreary," she said. "But I probably wouldn't do hearts. I think just big bouquets of valentine flower. I think sometimes the food and candy is great for decorations too, especially at Valentine's Day. There's a lot of iconic candy that you can just fill a big dish with. It's a little more tongue in cheek and a little more fun than handing someone a big heart-shaped box of chocolates."
But hosts don't have to stick to a Valentine's Day-specific theme. "Do something out of the box and different," said Kristen Quackenbush, executive director of matchmaking for the Philadelphia-based company Master Matchmakers, in an email interview. "Instead of red roses and romance, make it a 'white' party or a beach theme."
Martie Duncan, party expert and blogger at Martie Knows Parties, suggested trying out her "Wine Around the World" idea. "It's great for a singles mixer party, especially if there are people who don't really know each other very well because everybody can bring a wine from a country they've either been to or want to go to and they can bring a dish that goes with it," she said.
While no single wants to be caught overindulging at the snack table or wet bar, it is important to offer guests refreshments. "Have some food on hand but you want to have sexy food like chocolate-covered strawberries or something that's really easy to eat and not gonna gross people out," Soletti said.
When it comes to alcohol, Hedin recommended keeping things simple. "I would always suggest a signature cocktail of some sort," she said. "Partially because it's fun to do something different and unique but also it cuts down a lot on your bar expenses and your bar knowledge if you just have one cocktail and then beer and wine."
While planning out the party, it's crucial to remember the whole point of the event - to get singles interacting. "You could have all those heart decorations and candy and stuff but if there's nothing really to do or icebreakers or things that are gonna get people engaged then it's kind of for naught," Soletti said.
Soletti suggested having guests participate in a scavenger hunt in which they have to answer questions about one another. "It's just a really good way to go up to people and be like 'oh where are you from?' and start these conversations," Soletti said. "You then would complete your form and turn it in for some kind of prize. It's usually very good and it gets people talking and learning about each other."
Of course, you can't expect every single to be excited to go out on the big day of love. For those who are feeling reluctant, emphasize that your party is a stress-free zone.
"I think the best way is just to really let your friends know that there's no pressure," Hedin said. "This isn't you trying to set them up with someone but that this is just a group of friends having a good time, recognizing Valentine's Day as a reason to celebrate the day but not necessarily to be in love. Just to take the pressure off the day,valentine flower I think, is the most important part for people who are single."