9 Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day:
Creating Memories That Will Last
I love Valentine’s Day. When I was a little kid, it was the best school holiday. Everyone got a shoebox, and you’d decorate it with stickers, hearts, rainbows, unicorns. You’d put your name on it and add a little slot in the top like a mailbox or a piggy bank and then wait for your Valentine’s Day goodness.
Finally, Valentine’s Day would arrive. I’d dress in my finest red-white-and-pink combo for the festivities. Red tights, white patent leather shoes, a heart-covered dress, and red and pink ribbons in my hair. Everything was perfect. I’d open up that box and unfold tiny card after tiny card: Rainbow Brite, ALF, Batman--all the greats were represented. I’d promptly chuck aside all the conversation hearts--they were the candy corn of Valentine’s Day--in pursuit of the true candy gold, Sweet Tart Hearts and flavored Hershey Kisses.
As an adult, I’m guilty of getting suckered in by the capitalist sorcery of the Walgreen’s holiday aisle. Walgreens is the closest thing I’ve ever felt to the pure joy of being in Toys ‘R Us as a kid in its heyday, of looking down the aisle and thinking I wanted everything.
But you don’t have to load up on drugstore kitsch to give your own kids a Valentine’s Day they’ll look back on fondly. In search of great ideas, I took to the Interwebs and Facebook crowd-sourced in search of great ideas, and here’s what I came up with.
1. Craft Some Valentines to Donate to a Hospice
As an avid follower of Misha Collins and his GISHWHES/Random Acts movement, I fervently believe one of the best ways to counter all the world’s negativity these days is by putting kindness out there into the universe. One group of people who could use a little kindness are people who are in hospice but don’t really have any friends or family to look after them.
I spoke with Grace Hospice and learned that they have about two hundred hospice patients, many of whom are older and don’t have anyone checking in on them. We’re making a big batch of Valentine’s Day cards out of our massive stash of scrapbooking goods and old books and magazines to send over to them. The volunteer coordinator told me they’re also in dire need of people to make adult bibs and they have patterns to send you if you’re interested. You can call (918) 744-7223 to find out how to donate, or drop me a message below and I’ll be happy to arrange pickup for your Valentine’s Day cards.
2. Write Love Letters to Strangers
This has been one of my favorite things to do ever since I taught over at Tulsa Community College. A few years back, a girl named Hannah Brencher found herself in Manhattan on the 4 Train day after day, drowning in loneliness but surrounded by people. Desperate for human connection, she began dropping love letters to strangers all over the place, letting people know they were worthy and loved and seen by someone in that great big city. Pretty soon, Hannah had launched a movement.
If you’re interested in writing love letters to strangers, there are a couple of ways you can go about it. Hannah holds drives for letters and sends out letter campaigns to people who are in need of some support. Or you can make a bunch of note cards or Post-Its filled with happy little vibes and just start sticking them on people’s cars. My kids love doing that because they can draw little doodles on all of them, and my kids are pretty big doodlers. Work with your kiddos to make an anonymous note for your favorite checkout clerk and then leave it with the manager. The possibilities here are pretty much limitless.
3. Special Breakfast
Valentine’s Day falling on a school day means you won’t see your kids until evening, but it also means you have a great opportunity to wow them with a surprise special brekkie. You don’t have to go crazy to do this really well.
Grab a couple of mylar balloons at the Dollar Tree the night before and stash them in your closet until morning. Get some super cute decorated donuts from Daylight Donuts and spread confetti all over the table, and voila! Your kids will absolutely love this if they’re anything at all like mine.
4. Make and Decorate Cupcakes Together
I’m not really much of a cook because I too fully embrace my ADD, but my absolutely precious mother-in-law Betsey is a pro at bringing the kids into the kitchen. She lets the kids help her put together the recipe and then they get to decorate.
I imagine you could pretty much go wild with sprinkles and colorful frosting on this if you wanted to. The best part for them is bringing their handiwork home to us. You’ve really never seen such pride as kids scrambling over each other to show you which cupcakes they made and explain why they made it this way or that way.
5. Make a Valentine’s Day Playlist for Each Kid
This one takes a little time but doesn’t have to cost a thing, and it’s a great way to connect with your older kids. Make a list of songs that bring up special memories, songs they love, empowering songs, songs that remind you of that kid. Create a playlist on YouTube and send them the link or if they don’t use a device, play it for them. You can even give them a little note explaining what each song means to you.
6. Write Each Child a Letter
Giving gifts can be a lot of fun, but writing your children letters is a really personal way to show them you are thinking about them individually. Every once in a while, I like to give my kids a little note that says what I’m grateful for about them and talks about some of the things they’ve been doing recently that I’ve noticed and I’m proud of. If you’re not sure what to write without it feeling trite or cheesy, you could just make a listicle--Ten Things About You That Rock
7. Have a Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt
It’s no secret that my family loves scavenger hunts. It’s a great way to have fun as a family and gets all of you up and moving instead of hanging out looking at screens. You could create your own Scavenger Hunt or swipe or adapt one from the web. If your kids have devices, consider doing something that involves snapping pics.
Personally, I like the idea of creating a kid version of GISHWHES. Here are a few items to get you started:
- Make a valentine and give it to your sibling.
- Hug a neighbor.
- Draw your family at your favorite place.
- Call your grandparent and say you love them.
- Invent a love song and sing it on video.
- Dress up in your weirdest Valentine’s day outfit.
- Get the world’s ugliest family Valentine pic.
- Write a love poem for your pet. Recite it to a friend on the phone.
- Or Have a Valentine’s Treasure Hunt
A treasure hunt is a little bit different than a scavenger hunt. With a scavenger hunt, the goal is to run around looking for items on a list. But with a treasure hunt, each item is a clue that leads to the next clue.
The end of the road is a gift or prize of some kind. You can learn everything you need to know about throwing a treasure hunt by watching Michael J. Fox’s first film, Midnight Madness. Here is a good one that’s mislabeled as a scavenger hunt. I won’t tell them if you won’t.
9. Visit the Fire Department
Maybe I’m just partial because my dad is a retired firefighter, but our Tulsa firefighters are amazing! They risk their lives all the time and pretty much just fly under the radar. Taking a care package to your local TFD station is a fantastic way to give mad props to your local heroes and teach your kids a sense of civic pride and community.
The last time we stopped by TFD with cookies, those folks were so happy to get visitors they gave the kids some awesome backpacks filled with legit goodies to take with them! So go hug a firefighter!
You’ve got my list. What are your special Valentine’s Day suggestions? Hit me up in the comments and have a beautiful week!