Going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day with one’s love interest is as common as having birthday cake on your birthday. Restaurants will often go out of their way to make sure their guests are enjoying themselves on this special day, such as giving out complimentary glasses of champagne or creating special love-themed dishes. As a server for many years, I’ve noticed that many people will kick it up a notch by dining at a nicer restaurant than they normally do, which leads to the reason for this article.

1. Plan ahead

This should be rule number one for anyone wanting to go out on Valentine’s Day.

This day gets booked up far in advance at restaurants so do your homework before the fact and plan accordingly. But if you don’t, is it really the fault of the hostess when you’re told the only day-of reservation you can have is for 4:45pm? And if you want special things, ask the restaurant about what they are offering so you don’t get surprised when you arrive if they don't have what you want. Also, if you double book at restaurants, have the decency to call and cancel what you aren't using as they will hold a table for you that they could otherwise sit without holding.

2. Valentine’s Day doesn’t give you a reason to be mean to your server

One would think this is common sense, right? Unfortunately, it’s not.

Sure, it’s a holiday, even though some might question that, but really, isn’t it just another day in your life? It doesn’t provide a reason for anyone to treat their server any different than they would any other time they were in that restaurant. Okay, maybe you’re trying to impress your date. Servers get that, and they can be your best allies in this department if you're cool to them.

3. Keep your server out of your personal business

Valentine’s Day brings up a lot of stuff for people. Maybe they’re madly in love or perhaps they are only going through the motions out of obligation. Whatever is going on between you and your guest, keep it between the two of you. Don’t ask your server to solve an argument – that will only end badly.

And on the flip side, if you can't keep your hands off each other, at least try while you're in public. People are trying to eat. Remember that.

4. If you don’t have money for a tip, you should eat somewhere that you do

It’s evident that on this day many customers will step out to a nicer restaurant than they normally do, to celebrate a special occasion. People can save up to go to a nice restaurant and they should be treated as every other customer, whether they know what fork to use or not. The thing is, while that’s true on the server's end, what’s true on the customer’s end is that if you don’t have money to tip, you should choose a restaurant that isn’t as expensive. While tipping is a choice, it’s customary to tip according to service.

Servers will be the first to tell you not to tip when the service is bad, but if it’s great, it’s part of your dining experience. Perhaps go somewhere where you can pay for both dinner and service

5. Go easy on your server when trying to impress

There is perhaps no other day in the restaurant business where a server will have to deal with one of their guests trying to impress the other more than on Valentine's Day. What is most painful is when servers have to correct those attempting to impress. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, such as being sure that the restaurant carries something that your server confirms never existed there, let it go. Impress in ways you can – by being the best version of yourself. But, if you absolutely have to try to make your server laugh, please be original. Saying, “we didn’t order that” when the bill comes is about as old as the expression “far out” is.