After the turkey, gravy, green bean casserole, and some homemade buttermilk chocolate cake by yours truly, I found myself stuffed and full of sadness. I was the only one at our Thanksgiving dinner going home alone. I mean, I wasn’t really alone — my sugar-high daughter was bouncing along beside me. But I was alone in the way that single parents everywhere experience during the holidays. And it affected me more than I could have ever anticipated. I was still crying in my cake on Black Friday and even gave up tickets to the TCU/Baylor game because I was just so sad. And then, something happened: I got over it, because I realized the amazing opportunity I have to make meaningful connections, new friends, and create positive change for others this Christmas.

I tossed my sadness in the trash and gave away the rest of that insane chocolate cake. And decided to get some expert advice from Dallisa Hocking. She’s founder of a new local dating and matchmaking company called Love Frogkisser. Her company does all kinds of stuff (events, workshops, coaching) to help single folks like me find the right connections, and thrive — instead of just survive — the holiday season.

I asked her for some simple dating tips to keep the holidays bright and cupid arrows flying high.

FWW VITA 300x250

Get out of your comfort zone, and attend that holiday party solo.

“I almost think of it as ripping off the Band-Aid,” said Dallisa. “You know it’s going to hurt, but you just got to go.” She says just showing up is half the battle in most situations. And once you’re actually at the party, anything’s possible. And hey, if you stay for 20 minutes and hate, just leave. “But if you’re present and engaged with the people who are there, you’re probably going to end up staying and having a good time.”

Make friends, not lovers.

Don’t go up to that cute guy or gal at a holiday party with the intentions of scoring a date, says Dallisa. The goal should be to have a great conversation and make a new friend. Remove all expectations and enjoy getting to know the person. Conversation comes easier at theme parties, such as my personal favorite: The ugly Christmas sweater mistletoe extravaganza. “You can go up to them and say, ‘Where did you find that sweater?’ There’s probably a story there,” said Dallisa. A good conversation takes two folks who are equally engaged with the other person (and their ugly Christmas sweater).

Fake it until you make it.

Confidence is one of the most attractive qualities in men and women. But sometimes, it’s hard to embody when everyone else is partnered up and you’re going to that New Year’s Eve party alone. Dallisa says to walk into that party like you own that place (even if you feel like running to the broom closet). Having confidence in ourselves means knowing that we’re worthy and valuable, she says. “And that’s going to radiate from the inside out.” Of course, everybody has self-doubt; we’re all broken and human. But when that negative self-talk creeps in, she says, we’ve got to tell it to shut up. Because that type of thinking could really ruin a great opportunity and possible connection.

“You need to treat your life like there’s endless opportunities,” said Dallisa. “It’s a decision you have to make for yourself. It can be hard at first to step out and take those risks. But when you do, it can be really exciting.”

As always, please write to me with your questions on love, relationships, and life at: