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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine's Day: Celebrate it the Easy Way, or the Hard Way

This blog usually tackles a range of subject areas the team at 3Point are passionate about: mobile platforms, cloud computing, digital privacy, marketing strategy, social media, and public relations.

But with Valentine's Day literally around the corner (yes, it's Monday!), and in light of the seemingly incessant reminders we're getting from marketers via our favorite media outlets, I thought you wouldn't mind if "Beyond the Arc" took a temporary detour to share a few thoughts on THE romantic holiday.

For most of us (and I'm talking about guys), it's the same deal every year.  How much of a fuss should we make out of Valentine's Day.  Most guys over think this most famous of lovers' holidays.  And it doesn't matter if your newly dating or been married to the same person for 25 or more years.  Us guys definitely feel the pressure and our significant others definitely measure our treatment of Valentine's Day with the progression of the relationship.

My advice?  Relax.  Take a deep breadth.  Try to not read too much into this holiday. After all, it's meant to be a fun, romantic holiday.  You remember, fun, right?

Ok, I admit that what follows isn't so much my advice.  I'll leave relationship advice up to those who are "expert" at dishing it out and make their living from it -- like Dr. Phil and Dear Abby.

But as an infoholic (probably much like yourself), and as a public service, I've digested and then sorted out some of the best professional and informal (from a poll I did with friends on Facebook) advice on how to spend Monday. 

So here goes:

Many of the articles and promotions I've seen encourage us to dine out on Valentine's Day.  For this reason, many restaurants will be jammed on Monday night and you'll wind up waiting for your table -- reservations or not.  Actually, without reservations, I wouldn't even bother.

To be honest, I don't think dining out is for everyone on Valentine's Day. For example, if you're in a new relationship, you might reconsider your plans to dine out because a Valentine's Day dinner is brimming with pressure and future expectations.

Instead, consider a movie.  There are a number of "couples" movies playing at your local AMC Loews Cineplex.  Check out "Country Strong," about a rising country-music songwriter who falls for a fallen star.  Or "The Kings Speech," with 12 Oscar nominations, is sure to provide the fuel for your after-movie conversation at your favorite coffee shop where you can exchange movie insights over a caramel machiatto or other refreshment.

For the more adventurous and if you and your date are reasonably athletic, consider an ice-skating date.  Here's a listing of rinks in your area.  Or a bowling alley that offers food, refreshments and fun. A good option is Lucky Strike, a chain of upscale bowling alleys with lane-side food service and lounges across 12 states, plus an alley in Washington, D.C. and one in Canada (Ontario). 

For those of you who, like me, are in a serious relationship (longer term dating, engaged or married) remember that you don't have to save Valentine's Day to treat your special someone in a special way.  A friend of mine (he's recently divorced, so perhaps he's teaching us all something) said, "Always assume it's your first year of marriage and that EVERYTHING matters."

Dinner out is almost always a good idea on Valentine' Day when you're in a longer-term relationship.  You don't need to re-mortgage the house and dine at The Ritz, but wherever you decide to go, use OpenTable to make reservations.  It's fast and easy, you don't have to look up a restaurant's phone number and you can read what others are saying about previous dining experiences.  

Like so many of our holidays, Valentine's Day has been commercialized to excess. Companies who stand to gain a spike in Valentine's Day sales -- purveyors of sweets, flowers, jewelry and now smartphones, etc., --  have turned to social media and digital marketing in addition to traditional channels in an attempt to guilt us into spending more than necessary.

I for one am not falling for it.  However you decide to spend Valentine's Day this year, and maybe it's just dinner at home then plopping on the couch in front of the TV with your girlfriend, fiancée or your wife -- just remember to have fun.  

Cupid wouldn't want it any other way.

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