Inside: 5 fun, rich and meaningful ways to create lasting memories, strengthen the bonds within your family, and celebrate Valentine’s Day without candy or store-bought gifts.
February is here and with it all the joys of Valentine’s Day. But what are the joys of Valentine’s Day?
Yes, it’s true that Valentine’s Day has acquired the reputation of a commercial holiday. In 2017 Americans spent over 18 billion dollars on Valentine’s Day gifts and sent 190 million Valentine’s Day cards.
But don’t blame the holiday.
When ancient Romans came up with the idea of honoring Venus, the goodness of love, they didn’t have Hallmark cards in mind. Back then, the holiday was called Lupercalia and consisted of a lot of partying, eating, and dancing. Those pagans knew how to have a good time!
When we became a family, we looked at the stretch of empty space between New Year’s Eve and Easter and decided we could use a big family celebration of love. Think what you will of Valentine’s Day, it offers a great opportunity for expression of love for each other. As Nietzsche said, “In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony.”
This year we invite you to put the sappy commercialism aside and celebrate Valentine’s Day because family is life’s greatest blessing.
Five Fun Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day as a Family
Valentine’s Day Unique Family Traditions
Every day is a great day to strengthen family bonds and create lasting memories, but holidays are even more so. Family celebrations and traditions make the fondest childhood memories.
Imagine for a moment your children as parents tucking their own children in for the night and saying, “Oh I had so much fun growing up in my family. On Valentine’s Day, we decorated a giant heart and hung it in the kitchen. Anyone caught underneath it had to be kissed. We laughed so hard.” By the way, we call it a Kissletoe, and it is a lot of fun.
Some other family traditions for Valentine’s Day can be:
– reading Valentine’s Day books (Slugs in Love is our favorite),
– going on an after-dinner family walk around the neighborhood,
– watching a lovely kid-friendly movie (Homeward Bound is our favorite; it’s the only movie we know that doesn’t have bad guys in it),
– taking old towels to a dog shelter,
– taking a family yoga class, or
– calling relatives who live far away.
Valentine’s Day Unique Family Games
I Love You for…
I Love You For… is one of our most favorite games of all times. My kids specifically ask for it as soon as they realize that Valentine’s Day is coming up.
I invented it a few years ago when I wanted to encourage family bonding and sibling cooperation. I have heard comments that we don’t love our family members for something; we just love them. And it’s true. However, the words “I love you” are not enough to fully express all the nuances of our love. Just to give you an example, I love the way my daughter’s curl falls in the middle of her forehead and the way she absentmindedly brushes it away. When I shared it with her during our game, she said she didn’t know I noticed such small details about her, and it made her feel good. Of course, I would have loved my daughter even if she didn’t have that curl. But she has it, and I love it, and I might be too busy on a typical day to remember to mention it to her. The game offered an opportunity to share it with her.
Or one year my son wrote to my daughter, “I love you for the way you listen to my stories and try to understand my point of view.” Isn’t it so much richer than if he merely said, “I love you, sis.”
Ring Toss Game: another fun family game
Disclaimer: this post contains Amazon affiliate links. It means if you buy a product through my link, I will get a commission.
Another game we play on Valentine’s Day (and on many other days) is a Ring Toss Game. After dinner, it’s good to get up and start moving and laughing together. You simply throw rings on hooks and count points. In our family, the two with the lowest number of points load the dishwasher after Valentines Day dinner. My husband and I team up with the two youngest kids, so they have more fun and a better chance of not losing.
Miss Kris Wants a Kiss (she really, really does)
A new addition to our Valentine’s Day game repertoire is Miss Kris Wants a Kiss. It’s incredibly funny. Don’t let your fear of lipstick on kids keep you from enjoying this fun game.
Homemade Cards and Decorations
It’s possible you have never attempted homemade cards and decorations in the past. Maybe Oriental Trading company or your local party store is your go-to decoration resource. It doesn’t mean you’re not a DIY person.
Yes, it’s true that some families pass their craft activities down as a family tradition, but it’s not the only way. You might have never had an opportunity to let your DIY creativity flow. Lots of moms I know are self-taught, and it’s a very rewarding and calming way to bond with your children.
We always try to come up with new and original ideas for our Valentine’s cards and crafts. Here are some of our favorites:
Valentine’s Day Food
The general assumption is that Valentine’s Day means chocolate and sweets. Not necessarily! I don’t need another sugar high holiday (Halloween is enough).
Our traditional Valentine’s dinner usually consists of Russian red beet salad, Borscht soup (it’s red), a homemade heart-shaped pizza (with cauliflower crust), and pink ice tea (berry tea + fresh or frozen berries + ice).
We’ve also been known to make heart-shaped pancakes, homemade love crackers, and red beet balls (since we’re gluten-free, we use millets in place of bulgur wheat in this recipe).
Valentine’s Day Deeds of Love
Encourage each of your children to do something kind for each other on Valentine’s Day. Show them how they can be on the lookout for the opportunity to serve each other. If the opportunity doesn’t present itself, create one.
In my family, each kid has a list of daily chores. It’s easy to peek at each other’s lists and see where that person can use a hand.
But it doesn’t have to be a chore; it can be a gift of listening or time. Instead of rushing off to a toy corner on Valentine’s Day, encourage kids to sit next to a sibling and ask, What do you want to play? Or share a coveted toy without being asked. Or show affection by a compliment or hug.