For some people Valentine’s Day isn’t a “couple” holiday at all. Instead, it’s an excuse to celebrate what they love most–family. Below are four Valentine’s Day ideas for families, one from different four moms. Each creative idea includes the whole family and builds each person up.
#1 Valentine’s Dinner Finale
—Amy, mother of three and grandmother of one
Early on in their marriage, Amy and her husband decided the hassle of making dinner reservations and finding a sitter on the busiest day of the year wasn’t worth it. Instead they created a family Valentine’s dinner with a grand finale.
After putting finishes touches on the table setting, Amy serves everyone’s favorite meal. Over the years that’s been everything from a fun fondue experience to grilled steaks and crème brulee.
But it’s the after-dinner event that everyone looks forward to the most. Earlier in the week, Amy carefully chooses cards for each person. Inside she writes strong words of affirmation—the qualities she sees in them, what she appreciates about them. After dinner everyone opens their cards and reads them out loud.
That tradition of words of encouragement and appreciation are still the highlight for the now grown boys and the teens the family constantly hosts.
When I asked how she felt about doing the dinner preparations herself, Amy laughed. “My husband does give me flowers. But I love hosting. It’s how I like to express love. I get so much joy out of it.”
#2 A Day to Bless Others
—Kate, mother of four
For Kate, the real meaning of Valentine’s has nothing to do with Hallmark cards, chocolates or red and pink hearts. Their family doesn’t go out of their way to avoid those things, but they do choose to focus on the purpose of love behind the day.
One day Kate and her husband Travis asked the kids, “What’s something we could we do to bless others?”
Six-year-old Taite was the first to pipe up. “I want to take Grandma out on Valentine’s Day!” Three months earlier his grandpa had passed away. Taite knew that this year Grandma wouldn’t have a date.
Kate coordinated logistics. Taite took initiative and chose the restaurant, not quite the sustainable eatery that mirrors their business, but hey who doesn’t have a weak spot for Red Lobster’s cheddar biscuits?) The important thing was that it was Taite’s idea. He followed through by inviting his grandma and dressing up. Today, nine years later, 15-year-old Taite still has a standing Valentine’s date with Grandma.
#3 Valentine’s Box Project
—Rachel, mother of two
Rachel is one of the most creative people I know, whether it’s creativity with art or with ideas. Valentine’s Day isn’t an exception.
A powerful childhood experience convinced Rachel that Valentine’s Day can be a meaningful occasion to impress on someone how lovable they are. (Read about it here. Seriously I got all teary-eyed.)
“Everyone deserves to be loved,” Rachel says. “Everyone deserves to hear, ‘I love you.’”
And that includes her kids of course. So every year Rachel decorates a box and stuffs it with mini treasures she’s created for them: drawings she’s colored for them, notes about how much they’re appreciated and loved.
#4 Valentine’s Day Mini-book
—Nicki, mother of two
Nicki and her husband celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special dinner together. They also intentionally set aside time to celebrate as a family.
When the kids were younger, Nicki came up with the idea of a Valentine’s mini-book. Beginning February 1, each person in the family wrote (or dictated) a one-sentence note for each other person in the family. The note described a quality they liked about that person or a skill that person had. No one read the other’s notes. Instead Nicki gathered them up and set them aside.
On February 13, Nicki collected the notes for each person and put them into their own special “mini-book”. On Valentine’s Day, each person was presented with a collection of notes. cThe exercise of finding the good in others benefitted those who wrote the notes. The person receiving the mini-book came away with a keepsake they’d always treasure.
Now that the kids are older, family tactics have changed.
“When we’re home, it’s too easy to be distracted,” Nicki says. “Friends are always calling or texting the kids. My husband is getting his administrative license so he’s always on the computer. And I look around at the house and think, ‘I need to put the dishes away.’”
Their solution? They go out to a nice restaurant for a family dinner and leave the distractions behind. At the dinner, each person is responsible to express their love and appreciation for the others however they want.
“My son Jake loves gifts so he gives gifts to each person. My daughter Megan is sentimental so she writes cards for each of us.”
And, since dinners out aren’t usually in the family budget, the dinner communicates to everyone that this is their special time together as family.