Emily Buckley, editor in chief
Who doesn’t love a holiday devoted to LOVE? I wasn’t always a fan of the upcoming “Hallmark holiday,” but for me, it became a lot sweeter when I started celebrating it with my children.
My favorite part of Valentine’s Day is creating memories and carrying on traditions with my husband and daughters. You see, tradition is my love language – tradition of every kind: an annual trip to the Tetons, butterfly kisses at bedtime tuck-in, pancakes with whipped cream and sprinkles on birthday mornings, bowling on New Year’s Eve, three hand squeezes to secretly say ‘I love you!’, Sunday night board games, kitchen dance parties when Daddy makes breakfast…the list goes on, and holiday traditions are extra fun.
Here are a few of the family-friendly ways we celebrate Valentine’s Day. They have less to do with getting a babysitter and fighting the crowds to get a dinner reservation, and more to do with celebrating the people who mean the most:
- Passing Love Notes: My girls look forward to seeing the decorative plates on my buffet change with the seasons and holidays, and, for the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day each year, I add heart-shaped pouches where we can leave love notes for each other. The littlest to the biggest of my girls gets a kick out of both giving and receiving sweet and silly messages and treats.
- Mailing Valentines: My kids have more than 50 first cousins. Sadly, the majority of them live far away. One of our favorite Valentine activities is writing, decorating, and mailing valentines to cousins and friends who live out of town. We love crafting and cutting out hearts and decorating them with glitter, paint, googly eyes, and more.
- Heart-Themed Meals (by candlelight!): A few years ago, I purchased a heart-shaped waffle iron and my children love it. Make heart-shaped waffles or pancakes (with a metal cookie cutter). Add whipped cream and strawberries and you have a fun valentine breakfast; cut sandwiches into heart shapes and add a love note to make their lunch at school more special, and order heart-shaped pasta and serve it with red sauce for a fun Valentine dinner. We like to eat our pasta by candlelight and take turns telling each other what we love most about being a family.
- Share the Love: Do you know a friend or neighbor who may be feeling lonely during the long winter months? Make his or her day by taking them some chocolate or a handmade Valentine! You could also visit a nursing home or send valentines to active duty soldiers or children in a children’s hospital.
- Read Books About Love Together: I love pulling out a fresh selection of picture books to read with my children for different holiday seasons. Some of our favorite Valentine’s Day books include:
- Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, by Eileen Spinelli
- Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink, by Diane de Groat
- Hugs and Kisses for the Grouchy Ladybug, by Eric Carle
- I’ll Love You Til the Cows Come Home, by Kathryn Cristaldi
- Love, by Matt de la Peña
- Love Is, by Diane Adams
- Family Movie Night: A fun night at home playing games, eating a heart-themed meal, and a snuggling up watching movies as a family is always better than trying to beat the restaurant crowds. We usually show our kids our wedding video before watching another family-favorite love story like Lady and Tramp, Beauty and the Beast, The Parent Trap, The Princess Bride, or Enchanted.