Prior to having children, I could have sworn that Valentines Day was a giant conspiracy contrived by florists, chocolatiers, and stationery stores. But after becoming a parent, I realized February 14th is a cherished celebration that goes beyond roses, chocolates, and cards. Just as we focus on the importance of gratitude during Thanksgiving and giving during Christmas, Valentine's is a day to focus on friendship and caring—two monumental lessons that start with our young preschoolers as they begin to express themselves and make new friends.
The day itself doesn't have to be an expensive or elaborate affair either, as if a bottle of Pepto-Bismol exploded all over the place, but rather a simple homemade card expressing our love and a few hours spent doing the things we love, together.
Reflect on what you your family enjoys together, whether its a special meal you'd like to have, or cards you'd like share, plan ahead with reservations, ingredients, crafting materials, and invitations.
Here are some fun ideas to get you started:
Surprise meal times by dishing plates of food shaped into hearts or the color red, the universal symbols of "love," such as a heart-shaped pancake served with strawberry jam and powdered sugar, red jello from heart molds, or a cup of strawberry milk with a fresh strawberry speared through a straw.
If your family loves to bake together, make some homemade cookies using a heart-shaped cookie cutter or cupcakes decorated with "pink" frosting (buttercream tinted with red food coloring). Package in cookie tins or cellophane bags tied with a love note to give to friends and family.
Crafts make wonderful party decorations, keepsakes and gifts. Create cards decorated with handprints, hearts, or a love poem to send in the mail. If you have lots of tissue paper on hand, create a bouquet of flowers and place in a clay pot for the children to paint, or a tin can covered with construction paper to decorate and give as a gift. For the scrapbook, help your child put together a photo collage of their "favorite" things or people and hang on the wall or glue several tiny hearts in a circle for a hanging wreath as decoration.
Don't miss the opportunity to celebrate with others in your community. Check with your preschooler's teacher to see if you can attend their Valentine's Day party or bring a special, teacher-approved treat for the entire classroom.
Beginning the weekend prior, check your local Savvy calendar listing for valentine-themed events such as a Daddy-Daughter Dance or special dinner. There are also family events at community centers and indoor play areas. A fee may apply, but these usually include a photo opportunity, craft, or entertainment.
The expression of love is never short of creativity and Valentine's Day is the perfect chance to do just that. Your cards, sweets, and decorations don't have to match what's on the store shelves, but rather should come directly from the heart—and figuring out just what that looks like, together with your children, is what makes the holiday memorable year after year.
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