By Bernadette Sukley

Valentine’s Day: Tell him/her where you are going ahead of time and make sure you are dressed appropriately. So he’s not wearing jeans to Chez Yvonne or she’s not in black satin for the Wings & Things’ Light Beer Night. Choose a place that’s meaningful for both of you. The classics (wine, roses, chocolate and poetry) are a great default in case you have to stay home.

Birthdays: Typically celebrated at home, the date of his or her birth is the perfect (and least-expensive ) way for the two of you to be together. His favorite place may be the sports bar around the corner. So be it take him there buy him a beer. She may have been longing for a weekend at a B&B. Plan, reserve (babysitters too) and take her there. Both the guy or the gal can surprise each other with a gift and a kiss—even if it’s at the drive thru.

First date: A paradox. You gotta get to know the person before you get to know the person. One very adventurous guy planned a first date complete with champagne and a balloon ride. His date was petrified of heights. Bad Move. No second date. Make sure whatever you do–it’s an event that you’ll both like. Does she like bowling? Does he like hiking? Dinner and a movie? Is she afraid of dogs, heights, dark places, crowds, elevators. Ask. Ask. Ask.

Anniversary: Depends on the number. The more the years the both of you have shared, the more likely family and friends will want to plan the “date” for you. For the first ten make sure you do something. And ladies, it’s not always up to the guy. Try something different. A sunset and a bottle of wine is a simple but wonderful thing. The location can vary but the words should stay the same: I’d do it all over again.

Double Date: Ideal situation for work, or good friends who want to share fun with other friends. Romance is in the air but nothing is solid—no commitments as yet. So keep it that way and keep the crowd together, no wandering off to the ladies room to dish about his teeth.

Engagement: The big one, the granddaddy of all dates. Most of this will apply to the guy but know that today’s empowered women may take the bull by the horns and ask first. As the two of you have been together for a while you’ll know each other’s likes and dislikes. If you find yourself drawing a blank, get a feel for things from her friends. This must be done carefully. Choose the less talkative ones. And if you want to pull a Field of Dreams—call now for next year. Most ball parks average 2 engagements per game. For $250 here’s what you get: Four tickets to the game, live coverage of the proposal on a video board, a champagne toast and a commemorative DVD.

Bernadette Sukley is a freelance writer with an eye towards the quirky. Her work has appeared in Sports Illustrated for Women, ABROAD and Prevention.com. Love the unique? She does too. Contact: novelist2be@excite.com and http://thequirkywriter.blogspot.com/

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