FROM NEWSDAY-- Shopping for Valentine's Day cards

SHOPPING FOR . . . Valentine's Day cards
by Samantha Daniels

February 12, 2006

The expert: Samantha Daniels, celebrity matchmaker who inspired the TV series "Miss Match," founder of Samantha's Table Matchmaking, author of "Matchbook: The Diary of a Modern-Day Matchmaker."

The product: Valentine's Day cards

What I want: More than just friends? Don't pick a card that says "to a great friend." Likewise, if you're not lovers your card shouldn't say "to my honey."

I must have: In a newer relationship go the humor route (something universally funny, not just satisfying your personal sense of humor) and not so sappy. A card that has room to write something personal; people appreciate more what you write on your own than what's prewritten.

What I hate: Having to read each and every card; stores should offer more subcategories.

Savvy shopper: Don't wait 'til Feb. 14; cards are always picked over and you can never find what you want. Go to an actual card store, not a small store that sells lingerie and carries four cards. Oh, a piece of advice regarding the gift: It's OK to get a gift that's practical, but make sure you add a sentimental touch: One year my best friend was given a hair dryer, no card. The guy gave it because he wanted to hint that she should spend more time at his place and he didn't already own one. All my friend saw was a piece of electronic gear. They broke up over it. Moral of the story: Be sweet and verbal on Valentine's Day.

My pick: Shoebox Greetings start at $1.99 and have a good variety, and they're written in a "more real" way, not as corny or absurd.

Next best thing: Ran out of time or can't get to a store? E-cards are terrific, creative and free; try