by: Christa Melnyk Hines
Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples in the heady throes of young love. Deliver sweet somethings to every important person in your life. Here’s the plan for a perfectly playful V-Day for the whole family.
Create a Sweet Tweets jar. Decorate a mason jar for your child. On slips of paper, write adjectives or short sentences in 140 characters or less that describe traits you most appreciate, admire and love about him or her.
Hunt for Cupid’s treasure. Challenge your kids to a scavenger hunt. Give them clues on a trail of paper hearts or cupid cut-outs. One clue leads to the next until they find a Valentine’s Day surprise. Check online for scavenger hunt clue ideas.
“Attack” them with hearts. On each of the thirteen days leading up to Valentine’s Day, mom of four, Alexis Sanchez posts a heart-shaped note on her kids’ doors each night after they go to bed. By Valentine’s Day, their doors are covered.
“Usually it’s just characteristics I see in them or ways that they’re kind to others. They really love this, and I even found my eight-year-old kept all his hearts from last year in a special drawer so that’s pretty awesome,” Sanchez says, whose other children are 10, 6 and 1.
Send a singing telegram. Video your preschooler singing a ditty like: “I made this little valentine; Of red, white and blue; I made this little valentine; Especially for you!” (point at the camera). Email the file to grandparents or another relative your youngster is crazy about.
Customize cards for classmates. Bypass the usual cartoon paper postcards and publish simple photo cards with a themed border. Last year, Sanchez attached a small bottle of bubbles to her daughter’s cards, which read “Friend, you blow me away!”
Play the Queen of Hearts. Ace V-Day by sending love notes in a pack of red playing cards for your beloved. Punch holes in the corner of each card. On paper squares, write down 52 reasons why you love or appreciate him. Paste each sentiment in the middle of a playing card. Title the deck “I love you because…” and paste it on the top card. Attach the cards with a c-clip.
Treat them to a hearty breakfast. Surprise your kids with heart-shaped cinnamon rolls. Instead of rolling your cinnamon roll dough from one side to the other, roll it on both sides so that each side meets in the middle forming a heart shape. Slice and bake. Serve juice out of dollar-store champagne flutes. Make a fruit salad. Cut fruits like apples, strawberries, banana and watermelon using a heart-shaped cookie cutter.
Toy with chemistry. Put candy conversation hearts to the test. Gather vinegar, salt water, tap water and bleach (with adult guidance). Place a candy heart in four bowls. Ask your child to hypothesize about what will happen when each liquid is dropped over the candy. Using an eye dropper, test her theory. How does the candy react to different liquids? Did your young chemist’s predictions prove true?
Get those hearts pumping. Using a poster board, make a grid of nine different exercises (sit-ups, somersaults, jumping jacks, pushups, etc). Players take turns tossing a beanbag (or other item) onto the grid. Then they rolling the dice to see how many times they have to do the exercise that their beanbag landed on. For more ideas, check out 12345 Fit-Tastic! on Pinterest, a healthy lifestyles initiative for families.
Rev up date night. In the whirlwind of parenting, life as a couple can get routine. Plan an outing with your sweetheart that’s playful and gets you out of your dinner-and-a-movie rut. For example, lift off in a hot air balloon ride; go dancing; take a couples cooking class; paint together at a drop-in paint-and-sip studio; or attend a concert or live theater production.
Make a Heart-Shaped Bird Feeder:
3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 tbsp corn syrup
4 cups of birdseed
1. Stir the ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper.
3. Spray the inside of a heart-shaped cookie cutter with non-stick cooking spray.
4. Place the cookie cutter onto the lined cookie sheet and press the birdseed mixture into the cookie cutter. Spray cooking spray on your hands to help keep the mixture from sticking.
5. Use a chopstick to poke a hole in the upper center of the heart.
6. Remove the cookie cutter.
7. Let the hearts sit overnight.
8. Thread a ribbon through each heart and hang on a tree.
Freelance journalist, Christa Melnyk Hines and her beloved Valentine of 20 years share their hearts and home with two active children, a pair of nutty dogs and a cricket-lovin’ lizard. Christa is the author of Happy, Healthy & Hyperconnected: Raise a Thoughtful Communicator in a Digital World.