Grumble all you want about how it’s a Hallmark holiday, that it’s completely fake news, that it was created out of thin air to bolster the chocolate industrial complex. But who cares! Valentine’s Day arrives right in the middle of the long, dark winter and gives us a chance to make an ordinary day a little sparkly. Who wouldn’t want that? Here are 25 easy ways to add some joy and zhuzh to your day and make it feel special.
For the kids
Valentine’s tree. If you have an artificial xmas tree, bust it (back) out and dress it up with homemade pink and red garland and whatever else floats your décor boat, then string up with holiday lights. We could all use some extra light right now.
Challenge your family to plan a Valentine’s-themed menu. Maybe it’s meals featuring delicious red foods: berry smoothies, pasta in red sauce, stuffed red peppers. Maybe it’s recipes that have been handed down from a loved one, like a grandparent. The world is your oyster, and the only thing more fun than the execution is the brainstorming and planning.
Surprise ‘em with a festive breakfast. This is low effort/ high mileage. Grab some themed paper place settings, buy some refrigerated dough, and make chocolate “croissants” by folding in some chocolate chips; your house will smell like a bakery. Or use a cookie cutter to make heart-shaped pancakes. Serve up a not-your-everyday-breakfast-beverage alongside, like strawberry milk, and there you go; you have signaled this is a freaking special breakfast.
Coupon book. So this is a classic, but it’s typically a gift from kids to parents (maybe you have a handful in your nightstand drawer?). But what if grownups made these for kids, with actual items of value that they can cash in on when they like? Dessert for dinner. Living room camp-out. Breakfast in bed. Hiking outing with Mom.
Write a love letter to each kid. Who doesn’t love hearing a heartfelt description of all the things that are awesome about them? Use A-Z structure if you like. Or use the letters of their name to make an acrostic (maybe less doable if your child’s name is Bo).
Heart-shaped pinata. It’s really effing satisfying to hit things sometimes, and right now might be one of those times? It’s also really effing satisfying to be showered in candy. Have at it, kids. And grownups.
Recreate Starbucks’ Strawberry Creme Frappuccino. – Who says you can’t DIY it?
DIY photo booth. Use Simple Booth or Pocketbooth, or keep it totally analog by crafting a backdrop using a tri fold screen or sheet backdrop held in place with binder clips. Grab props like heart shaped glasses, boas, kissy lips and thought/ word bubbles, and go to town. Thanks to quar you may even have a tripod at home? You can also get a few disposable cameras for the retro factor. Kids love playing around with them ‘cause they’re “old fashioned.”
Take in a drive-in movie. Find out if there’s one in your area. It’s the ultimate in cozy family-activity-ing.
Make chocolate fondue. You know what kids love? DIPPING things. Borrow or buy a kit and use berries, bananas, or marshmallows (if you dare). Kids’ palettes may not be ready for cheese fondue, but yours are, so grab some Gruyere or Gouda and do a grownups’ round later.
Chocolate covered strawberries. Speaking of dipping… The only thing more fun for kids is a food project that involves both dipping and sprinkling.
Do “platter” for dinner. A cheese (or charcuterie) plate is always a hit. The kids get a snack-dinner, and the adults get to drink some wine and eat soft cheeses whist not-cooking. And hoo boy is an abundant, colorful collection of savory snacks easy on the eyes.
Family trivia. Remember The Newlywed Game? Of course you don’t, we’re too young! A how-well-do-we-know-each-other game gets the competitive juices — and memories — flowing, and it’s super fun. Use Kahoot to add the race-against-each-other and score-keeping factor.
Cozy camp-out in the backyard. Bundle up, grab some blankets, and do s’mores or tricked-out hot cocoa (add whipped cream and chocolate shavings – just use a vegetable peeler). For stargazing, use this guide.
Lift up others. Do a craft or project together as a family to express love or appreciation for someone else — a neighbor, grandparents, or someone you don’t know, like older adults who may be isolated or the person who delivers your mail each day. One idea: these pop up cards, which look super elevated. Younger kids might love these 5 card projects.
Put it in a jar. Let’s face it, everything looks pretty when placed in a mason jar and tied with a ribbon or twine flourish. Glove up and create little gifts for friends and neighbors using gummy candies and other colorful sweets. Go super germ-free by using individually wrapped treats.
Have “Fancy Dinner.” Newness does the brain good. What’s something you’ve been meaning to try making? Or something that feels special occasion-y?
Make edible treats that look complicated but aren’t. Meg’s three V-day treats have that wow-factor. Those lovebugs take the cake (cookie?) for the cutest edible critters out there.
Decorate Cookies. It’s a classic for a reason. There is nothing so peaceful as siblings — or whole families — sitting together being creative amidst sugary treats. Love these toppings in a box. (Let’s face it, love anything “in a box.”)
Valentine’s boxes. There is something so satisfying about sticking a note into a mail slot, and these Valentine’s boxes are just so clever (not to mention STEM-ulating – for those little brains!). Have everyone in the family write each other notes of gratitude.
For your partner
Paint. set up an easel or two and some basic paints, pop open some bubbly if you like, and just have an hour together that doesn’t involve logistics or screens.
Watch a movie that’s a couple-favorite. Once the kids are in bed, settle in for a movie that’s memorable or meaningful to you and your partner.
Virtual wine tasting or mixology class. How ‘bout this: put the kids in one room with the cookie decorating, while the grownups learn (and sip) a new skill.
Recreate your first date. Might you be limited by the confines of the pandemic? Sure. But being creative is half the fun.
Fashion a “winter neighborhood bouquet.” Get outside and see what your yard and its environs have to offer, and put together a bouquet of local blooms. Who cares if it’s unruly. Tie with some twine and it’s earthy, “artisanal,” and straight from the heart.