Sure, Valentine's Day is about romance. But it can also be great fun for kids (um, candy, anyone?) And that means it's the perfect day to share the love with every member of the family.
With that in mind, here are some easy, inexpensive ways to build great memories on the sweetest of holidays.
Make a heart-shaped pizza (or two).
There's something about homemade pizza that says “I love you." Simply cut a heart shape out of a ready-made Boboli shell. Add sauce, cheese, and your choice of red or pink toppings like ham, pepperoni, fresh tomatoes and red bell peppers. Save some of the veggies to serve as a healthy side with carrots and celery sticks. ( See our recipe for Pizza My Heart for inspiration. https://www.foodlion.com/recipes/pizza-my-heart/) Dish onto red plates with red cups and napkins. And don't forget to save room for dessert — red velvet cupcakes are the perfect Valentine's Day treat.
Write anonymous love notes on Post-Its and leave them around the house.
Ask each family member to say something nice about everyone else. (“I love it when you make soup for me." “I love it when you act silly and make me laugh." “I love it when you tickle my toes.") Little ones may need some help with the writing but can add their own artwork or stickers. Set a designated time when you bring all the cards into the living room, read them aloud, and guess who wrote what. You can even save them on a big piece of poster board. Include a few photos for a memento that'll tug your heartstrings for years to come.
Have a Valentine's Day movie night.
Skip the racy rom-coms and choose from family classics with just the right amount of lovey-dovey stuff: Lady and the Tramp, Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, Beauty and the Beast and The Parent Trap. Make the evening complete with popcorn, Country Time pink lemonade and movie-style boxes of candy in red and pink (Twizzlers, Starburst Reds, Good and Plenty.)
Host a scavenger hunt.
You'll be the toast of the neighborhood if you host a Valentine's Day scavenger hunt. Make a list of Valentine's Day-themed items (heart-shaped pillows, toys, Valentine's Day cards, small bags of candy, red ribbon, crayons, stationary for letter-writing) for kids to find in your house. (For preschoolers who can't read yet, substitute a sticker or simple drawing of the item.)
Tell family stories.
Nothing is sweeter for kids than hearing about how their parents and grandparents met. Whether you stick to the truth or throw in a few whoppers, be sure to include a few Valentine's Day memories. Children love to hear what life was like when you were a kid (even if it doesn't feel that long ago to you.)
Eat dinner by candlelight.
A pair of candles makes any meal a special occasion, and kids love “fancy." Even something as simple and kid-friendly as macaroni and cheese can be special with the right accessories. For a memorable Valentine's Day meal, whip up several varieties, like Spirals, Three Cheese Mini-Shells, and Cheddar Explosion. Serve with kid-friendly mini sweet peppers and a sprig of parsley on the side (kids will get a kick out of tasting it, even if it's to say “ew.")
Deliver Valentine's Day cards and treats to elderly neighbors.
Buy a few extra packs of inexpensive Valentines (you're buying some for school parties anyway, right?) or make your own out of construction paper. Bake a batch of heart cookies and include a couple with each card. (To make it extra special, form little sandwiches with cream cheese icing between two cookies.)
Share the love with furry friends.
Valentine's Day is the perfect time to do something nice for the family dog, cat or bunny — take a special walk, buy them a new toy or collar or just give them an extra few moments of attention. Don't forget about the pets at your local shelter; now is a good time to check out their web site and see what volunteer opportunities are available for the whole family.