If you’re single during the winter holidays, you might feel more like hibernating than getting out there and trying to find a date. But that’s exactly what you shouldn’t do. Don’t wait until the New Year, start now. We asked the experts for ideas on how to find a great date under your tree (if not sooner!). Here, the results:

1. Run errands. The holidays are full of errand-running and gift-getting. Why not use that as a means of meeting new people? “I make a point of chatting with people while I’m waiting in line,” says Sarah Silton of Los Angeles. “And if I’m looking for a gift for my brother or dad, I’ll ask a cute guy what he thinks. Automatic ice-breaker. Just the other day, I ended up having coffee with a guy I met in the line at the book store.”

2. Pet-sit. Got friends and family who’re traveling? Do a good deed — for them, their pets and you! Offer to take care of their animals, suggests Jennifer Kelton, author of Don’t Use My Sweater Like a Towel. “Walk dogs, feed cats. You never know who lives in the neighborhood.” Up the ante and take the pooch to the dog park — it can be a great place to meet new people.
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3. Have faith. Have a vision of what you want in a relationship, and believe you can get it. “You must believe your vision is possible for it to manifest,” says San Francisco-based psychologist and certified relationship coach Wendy Lyon. “Ask yourself, ‘What do I believe about myself, about dating, and about relationships?’ Perhaps you really believe that you’ll never have a good relationship, that there’s no one out there for you, that it’s too late, etc. These impeding beliefs can be uprooted, eliminated, and replaced with empowering beliefs, such as ‘I do deserve a loving relationship,’ ‘There is someone out there for me,’ and ‘As long as I’m breathing, it’s never too late for love.’ When you have a clear vision, and believe in it fully, you are on the road to success.”

4. Reconnect with your past. Many people use the holidays to reconnect with old friends. Why not do this with an eye toward dating? “I had fond memories of a close friend from high school,” recalls a dater in Cincinnati. “So I sent a Christmas card suggesting we reconnect. A month or so later, he was in town on business and we met up. We’ve been doing the long-distance thing ever since.”

5. Work the office party. Here’s a tip for you (provided it doesn’t break any company rules): If you’re going to the office party anyway, why not look for love among the cubicles? “There are two frequent stops at any office party: the buffet and the path from the restroom,” says Albany, CA-based professional poker player Oliver ‘Ali’ Nejad. “Hanging in these areas will assure you face time with Mr./Ms. Right.”

6. Mix business and pleasure. “As a business owner and single mother, there isn’t much time left over to meet new and interesting people,” admits Jacqueline “Jack” Perez, founder of Summit Strategy Partners, a Raleigh, NC marketing company. “I have come to realize that the energy to find and get to know compelling business networking associates and potential friends or dates is the same. So, why not look at the audience pool through multiple view finders? Keep your options open; you might get that great exciting new gig or a fabulous dinner companion.” Note: This isn’t about flirting with clients and the like... it’s about being open to making a love connection at professional organizations, conferences, and other work-related events.

7. Put the word out! “Clarify what you’re really looking for in your partner,” suggests Lyon. “Then let people know what you’re searching for. Show up in the world open to meeting your match.” So maybe you’re going caroling or to a Chanukah party... there’s no harm in letting your host know you’d love to meet new people. Ask and you just may receive!

Margot Carmichael Lester is also the author of Be A Better Writer, winner of a 2007 Independent Publishers Association Gold Medal.