Happy (almost) Valentine's Day, friends! As you know, I love Love. I've always been smitten with the idea of it. And even when I was a single lady, I still tried to see the silver lining and the best intentions of the day (even though, yeah, it's sort of a “Hallmark” holiday, I still like it).

With Valentine's Day falling at the end of the week, I thought it would be fun to suggest some ideas to help you spread the love all week long. Let's start it off with the essentials…food and flowers!

Sweets: one of the keystones of any Valentine's celebration! What guy or gal doesn't enjoy getting a sweet treat for Valentine's Day? My suggestion: an assortment of cookies or cupcakes (or brownies, or scones, whatever strikes your fancy) from our friends at Bake For You in Albany! You're sure to make your Valentine smile with a box from Bake For You. Below, their special cabernet brownie…yum!

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Eats: Dinner–sometimes it's almost better to NOT go out to eat on Valentine's Day. Many restaurants plan a pre-fixe menu and there can be a lot of pressure associated with this meal (not to mention reservations can be tough to come by)…but Friday night would be perfect to head out for a nice, romantic meal! Nate and I love New World Bistro Bar and our friends at DP's  /  Yono's--all in Albany–always make an amazing meal. If you're in Troy, consider checking out the new Peck's Arcade and in the Schenectady area, maybe Angelo's Tavolo?

Flowers: Again, since Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday, consider sending flowers during the week so your Valentine can enjoy them all week at their office or at home. As you know, we love small businesses–our friends at Fleurtacious Designs (featured below), Surroundings Florals, Anthology Studio, and Experience and Creative Design are all amazing floral designers that can create an arrangement to knock the socks off your special someone.

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Looking for a non-traditional Valentine's Day date? Or maybe you just started dating someone and you're looking for an alternative to the norm? Consider taking a cooking class together at Different Drummer's Kitchen at Stuyvesant Plaza or maybe schedule a session at Saratoga Paint and Sip (with a new Latham location)! Both of these ideas offer a low pressure, fun date–what a great way to get to know someone better!

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And if you're looking for something for the guy in your life, consider a gift card to Rumors for Men in Latham (Nate's go-to spot) or Harry's Shaving Products.

Newly engaged? A KOWE gift card always fits and is a great idea for a newly engaged couple!

Hope this helps you figure out a way to spend your Valentine's Day! How are you spending the day? Let me know in the comments!

Keep sparkling–