Planning Valentine's Day Online

If not even love can tear you away from your computer this Valentine?s Day, don?t despair - it?s possible to plan a romantic time without ever leaving your desk.

Though we do suggest you get up from your desk to enjoy it.

Say It With — Something Cute

The basic Valentine starts with a card and flowers, and you can find those both easily online.

There are about a zillion e-cards sites, from missives for Mac lovers at to images of drug paraphernalia at Neither of those are romantic, but the cards at Blue Mountain Arts are. The Blue Mountain cards are also much more customizable than the average e-card - you can choose different animations, sounds, even little graphics that track your mouse.

There?s also a new kind of file attachment at the Blue Mountain card shop. You can attach real chocolates, flowers or gifts to the card, which almost makes up for not being able to prop it up on a desk. (The gifts get sent through the mail.)

Either cute or bizarre, depending on how you look at them, the cards at are also worth a try. The site specializes in kissing, so they?ve got ?kiss stories? and such, but they also have tons of e-cards featuring plump, disembodied lips in a host of compromsing positions.

Once you?ve got the cards, get the flowers. But don?t go to, the default destination; they?re expensive and unimaginative. Patronize a local florist instead by going to, punching in ?florist? as a business category and your city and state.

Single — Don't Despair

No, not everyone looking for love out on the Web is a criminal - or even desperate. Many ordinary people have turned to online personals to fill that empty space between their keyboards and their souls.

There are dozens of online personals service out there, from Jdate (matches a Jewish mother could love) to Dark Wyccan?s Goth Personals, for those who like their romance a little darker.

The best of the pay-for-play personals service is They?ve been around since 1995. They?re costly, at $24.99 a month, but they let you shop around before you buy. Their free before-you-pay search function has a really nifty proximity search where you can request to see only people within a certain distance from your zip code (to avoid those problematical long-distance Internet relationships.)

If you?d rather spend the money on the date, Yahoo! and Excite both run free personals services - though many of the raunchier ads appear to be fakes, placed as jokes or by escort services. There?s an especially high rate of fakes in Excite?s Adult Personals area, but as long as you stick to genuine romance, there seems to be plenty of free love out there.

Planning the Date

So you've got a date. Good for you. Time to figure out what to do with him or her.

If you want to set up a romantic evening at home, but at a loss for creating the mood, has some quick decorating tips. They're not stunningly original — lots of candles and flowers - but they're a good start to get your own creative mind in action.

The truly apartment-impaired will probably want to go out; they should check's Romance section. Citysearch provides 82 city guides from Albany, N.Y. to Winston-Salem, N.C., though only a fraction of their cities have dating advice. (Residents of Kansas City and Green Bay, Wisc., for instance, are out of luck.) The suggestions can be pretty imaginative; the New Orleans guide suggests taking a first date to a cozy local bookstore. Pamela Tepper contributed to this report.