Whether we like it or not, another holiday is on its way. Stores are full of red and
pink, 80’s love ballads are entering radio rotations and most restaurants in Orlando are
fully booked. Valentines day, a time to appreciate your sweetheart or to appreciate the
fact you don’t have one. No matter how you plan to spend the day this year, here’s some
hints to get it right.

First things first, decide on a budget. Figure out how much you intend to spend
and stick to it. We would all love to splurge and buy our valentine a pricey gift but bear
in mind, a gift is rarely valued as much as an experience.

Everyone loves to be ‘wined and dined’ especially on a day dedicated to love.
Instead of spending a fortune at a restaurant, cook a memorable dinner. Buy gourmet
ingredients you wouldn’t normally cook with. Every restaurant on Valentines Day
is packed, loud and the service is usually awful. Skip it and treat your valentine to a
romantic night in. If a certain restaurant has special meaning or significance see if they
have a carry out menu so you can still enjoy the night away from the madness.

If you ‘forgot’ how to cook, don’t worry. Check out the prepared foods section at
Publix near the meat department. Here you can find steak pinwheels with fresh spinach
and mozzarella, bacon wrapped chicken cordon bleu, marinated steak kabobs and so
much more. All of the Publix pre-made items come with instructions so if you burn it
make sure you have Papa Johns on speed dial and order a heart shaped pizza.

Ignore the typical box of chocolates calling your name. In an article titled “From
fancy salt to gourmet trucks, an appetizing look at 2012,” USA Today named artisan
chocolate one of the top food trends for 2012. Look for smaller bars that feature unique
flavors and have a higher percentage of cocoa. One bar may cost the same as a common
supersized bag, but your valentine will not complain about its size when he or she tries it.

Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly, a bakery with specialty cupcakes located
in Waterford Lakes Town Center, is offering a special Valentines Day collection
of cupcakes. Each cupcake is embellished with a handmade custom chocolate to
compliment each flavor of the collection. The Valentines Day collection is offered at $18
for one dozen mini cupcakes.

Try and explore other areas around Orlando. Harry P. Leu Gardens will be
hosting a Valentine’s Movie Night featuring “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” Admission is only $5
per person and you can bring your own picnic basket and blankets. The Garden will open
at 6 p.m. and the movie will start at 7:30 p.m. During the day admission is $7 and you
can explore 50-acre oasis in the middle of Orlando. Go to www.leugardens.org for more

Park Avenue in Winter Park features one of the most enjoyable walks in Orlando.
Stroll the brick, tree-lined street surrounded by shops and restaurants. Most of the
restaurants will be at capacity but there’s always Starbucks and a vintage candy store.

Make sure to check out the rose garden next to the six-acre park, a frequent wedding
ceremony location due to its charm.

If you’re too busy applauding the fact that you don’t have to worry about anything
above, you should plan a night out. Regardless of relationship status, it’s still a holiday.
You can sit around, watch Christian Slater movies, play video games and pretend you
don’t know what day it is or you can enjoy yourself. Get a group together, split a cab, and
go downtown where you’ll find other people doing the exact same thing.

Remember to buy a card, or make one yourself. Flowers die, chocolate will
mysteriously disappear but a card will always be there to remind your valentine how
much you care. Don’t let you friends feel forgotten, there’s nothing wrong with buying
juvenile valentines for your friends. If all else fails think thoughtfully, speak kindly and
enjoy the people around you.

By: Sophie Grace