Two kids with hearts on the eyes

Being a mom can be confusing. I am always torn between what I would like to be — “a Pinterest Mom” — and what I actually have time for. I usually find myself at the store just a few days before the holidays trying to come up with something thoughtful for my kids. This year, I am thinking ahead and looking for some simple ways to pull off quality experiences in less time.

Here are a few simple ideas I have for a family-centered Valentine celebration:

Plan ahead:
Send out invitations a few days before to invite your kids to a special “candlelit Valentine’s dinner.” Sending out an invite will bring more excitement. Tell them the dress code for the night is fancy!

Keep it simple and use easy, throw-away decor. Set the table ahead of time, and place a note at each person’s seat telling them why you love them. Kids may enjoy helping you prepare by cutting out paper hearts to create a “house full of love” by scattering them around the house. Don’t forget the candles to create a special atmosphere.

For me, food can quickly make things more complicated and stressful, but maybe you love to cook and that is the easy part for you. I usually end up getting a heart-shaped take-and-bake pizza from a local pizza place; do what works for you. My kids love sparkling cider, so I will pick up plastic champagne glasses to serve that in. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could serve chocolate fondue for dessert.

This is another area where you can easily do more or less. Here are some ideas: Have a conversation heart tower-building contest where you see who can build the tallest tower; play Cupid with straws and Q-tips by blowing Q-tips through straws at each other; or play Valentine Bingo with simple, fun and free printables available online. My kids also love to play hot and cold; take turns hiding a heart and looking for it.

I hope these suggestions spark ideas that will help you make lasting memories with the ones you love most.