The first Valentine’s Day I ever celebrated with my husband (then boyfriend), I received a surprise knock on the door in the middle of the afternoon. There stood my husband, dressed as Cupid himself, clutching four carrots tied together in the shape of a diamond. A four “carrot” diamond, get it?
That was a memorable Valentine’s Day and not just because my six-foot tall husband had shimmied into a pair of child sized wings (the only ones he could find). It was memorable because my husband put thought and creativity into celebrating the recognized day of love. Sixteen years later, our celebration includes a tiny human. Though our guest may be small, there shall be no shortage of creativity!
Valentine’s Day Gifts of Love
Flowers and candy are nice, but what everyone wants on Valentine’s Day is a gift from the heart. This is where you enlist the help of your pint-sized cavalry. A homemade gift from your little one is the perfect gift for your significant other or even the grandparents!
- Handprint/Footprint “Love” Craft- All you need is paint and your little one’s hands and feet. Use a handprint for the “O” and footprints to make the “V” in the word “Love”. You can use paper, canvas, or even an old piece of reclaimed wood. These crafts are great to hang in your home or to give as gifts.
- Footprint “Love Bug”– Use your little one’s footprint and decorate it with googly eyes and pipe cleaner legs to make a “love bug”. For this craft, I like to use canvas and have my toddler use pom poms dipped in paint to create the background. Then, I let the paint dry before dipping her foot into paint to create the love bug. If you have older siblings of your toddler, they could add the eyes and legs.
- “Love”ly Cards– Use tape to spell out the word “love” on a piece of paper. Give your toddler the finger paints and allow them to go to town. Once the paint dries, remove the tape and you will have “love” spelled out amidst your child’s masterpiece. Present it as a card or frame it and hang it on the wall.
- Thumb Print Hearts– Draw a heart and dip those tiny thumbs into paint to decorate the heart with thumbprints. Hint: Draw a small heart. This is a great craft for a small card.
- Toilet Paper Tube Heart Stamp– This is all over Pinterest and I LOVE it! Take an empty toilet paper tube and bend one side to create a heart shape. Depending on the elasticity of your tube, you may need tape to hold the shape into place. This becomes the stamp for your kids to dip in paint and decorate your desired surface. This is great for creating cards or background for the above craft. It is messy, but fun!
Valentine’s Day Meals: Le Cuisine
Why limit Valentine’s Day celebrations to only a romantic dinner for two? The fancy fare can be enjoyed all day long!
- Breakfast– Add some beet juice to pancakes and they turn pink. Serve with sliced strawberries (or beets!) to continue the color scheme. This would be a healthier alternative to red velvet pancakes, but you could definitely go that route also!
- Lunch– Whether it is PB & J or grilled cheese, use a heart shaped cookie cutter to add some love to lunchtime.
- Snacks– Make some jello or slice some watermelon and ask your little one to cut out hearts with a cookie cutter.
- Dinner– Make it fancy, no matter what you eat. My daughter happens to love escargot, but the Valentine’s Day meal could indeed be pizza. For tonight, it is more about the company than the cuisine. But perhaps dim the lights and get dressed up, just for fun. Drink sparkling apple juice and toast to love.
- Dessert- Strawberries and whipped cream are a tried and true family favorite for dessert in my house, but on Valentine’s Day it is okay to mix it up and give yourself permission to indulge.
One of my favorite desserts I have ever had, I had in Paris and it strangely did not involve chocolate. It was halved cherries served with ricotta cheese. That’s it. The server instructed us to mix the cherry juice with the ricotta as we ate, which is not only delicious, but everything turns pink! Perfect for Valentine’s Day!
Homemade cookies cut into heart shapes or homemade truffles are also tasty and fun to make. If you do not feel like spending the day in the kitchen, buy a big box of chocolates instead and take turns passing around each one and trying to guess what is inside.
Valentine’s Day: Amorous Activities
Valentine’s Day does not have to be all mushy, icky romance. Your little one will not even go on their first date until they are thirty-five, so now is the time to have some fun.
- Get your heart pumping. Use the opportunity to explain that the heart is not just for stamping on a card, it also helps our bodies function. One way to be kind to your heart is to exercise! So, go for a walk or run, dance, play tag, or throw the ball around. Get everyone feeling those endorphins!
- Candy Heart Science. Grab those conversation hearts and ask your little loves to sort them by color. Then, dip them in water and watch how they dissolve.
- Create a Valentine’s Day sensory tub. Grab a large plastic container and fill it with flower petals, red and pink pom poms, and bubbles. Sensory tubs are a great way for toddlers to explore shapes and textures, but they are also a great way to use items you already have lying around the house. I like to throw these particular items into the bathtub and add bath paint for some extra fun.
Valentine’s Day does not have to be classified as a cheesy Hallmark holiday nor does it have to be a fantastic (and expensive) event. Instead, use this day to take some time to celebrate love with your special someones.
Love is so easily translated into quality time spent together. Do not be afraid to give your spouse a big smooch and slow dance in the kitchen in front of your kids. Today is a day for kids to see that love is all around them. So, eat some pink food, drink something sparkly, smother your loved ones with some extra kisses, and have fun!