By Ryan Smolenski

Another Valentine’s Day is upon us. With all the men scurrying around, trying to find that perfect last-minute gift, there is one more important consideration: finding the perfect place to eat. Well, look no further than the bottom of this page. I am going to provide you with a list of places to eat and two easy recipe that anyone can make. If your priorities are reasonable prices, atmosphere, the company of a loved one or just a night out with some close single friends, here is a field guide to navigating the joys and perils of Valentine’s Day.

To all the single people out there: not having a significant other doesn’t mean you’re doomed to walk alone on this day of love and affection. You just need to show the people in your life that they are loved. Gather up a group of your best (single) friends and plan a night out on the town together. Trust me, you won’t be the only single people out.

There are only three rules to being single on Valentine’s Day. First, you must have fun. What better way to forget that you’re single than to be with friends or family who love you? Let’s face it, that’s the only way we can get through the day without sobbing like a two-year-old. Secondly, the food must be amazing. Finally, keep the drinks flowing (age permitting).

Whether it’s a virgin strawberry daiquiri or bourbon on the rocks, having drinks with a group of friends will always stimulate conversation. If by some crazy chance your friends are boring you to death, don’t be afraid to talk to other single people; chances are, they’re thinking the same thing.

If you are going on a date with a significant other, here are a couple of rules for you. The first rule, one you should never forget, is to limit your alcohol consumption. No one wants to be the person who gets uncontrollably hammered on Valentine’s Day.

More importantly, no one wants to be around a person who is totally hammered; it’s embarrassing. So try to fill the evening with witty conversation and piercing looks into the eyes of your date. This will get you further than any liquid courage ever could.

The second rule: no matter what, if you’re a man, pay the bill. It could be considered old fashioned or chivalrous, but seriously, what girl really wants to pay on Valentine’s Day? So be a man, step up and pay the bill.

The last and most important rule is that no matter if it’s your first date, or you’ve been dating for years, every girl deserves something on Feb. 14. The gift should reflect the amount of time that you have been dating. No over-the-top diamond necklaces for a girl you have dated a week, this will make you look desperate.

The next thing: the meal. When it comes to places to eat, there are two criteria every college student needs to take into consideration. The first is price. Places like O’Charleys and Applebee’s offer affordable food with a decent atmosphere. With no specials running on Valentine’s Day, going to one of these places will be just like any other day.

If you have a bigger budget, I would recommend calling Malone’s in Lexington and reserving a table for your special evening. Fine dining with amazing ambiance is on the menu all night at Malone’s. For $50 per person, you will receive a four-course meal with appetizers, salad, two to three choices of entrees, and a decadent dessert. The second thing to take into consideration: ambiance. For the best atmosphere in Richmond, sure to make you both feel special, try a little place on Main Street called Woody’s. With the best food in town, hands down, Woody’s offers the

top dining experience within walking distance.

Still, if you’re feeling a little more energetic, check your neighborhood grocery. That’s right, cooking for your significant other or for friends is definitely the way to go. There is no better way to show your love for someone than to put some love into what you cook.

Cooking at home makes perfect sense as it is the cheapest way (about $30) to provide a wonderful date that no man or woman would ever forget,. You get to decide on the ambiance and the meal that will be served, and you will be rewarded with the satisfaction that you, and only you, can take credit for this magical evening.

Following the rules of a Valentine’s date is vital to the enjoyment of your evening. Whether you are with friends or a loved one, on a budget or have cash to spend, staying home or going out, one of the ideas mentioned above will fit your needs for this Valentine’s Day.