Special thanks to Baskin-Robbins for sponsoring today’s post.
When I was a kid, Valentine’s Day was my favorite holiday. Because my family moved a lot, I often felt like an outcast at school but on Valentine’s Day, everyone exchanged Valentines and no one was left out. This small display of kindness was always the bright spot in my year and now that I have kids of my own, I want them to experience that same sense of belonging and affection. Unfortunately, life is busy and often Valentine’s Day sneaks up on me before I know it and I scramble for ways to make the day special. Here are my favorite last minute family Valentine’s Day ideas so that even if you don’t plan for it weeks in advance, you can still make them feel cherished.
I don’t want my kids to look forward to holidays because of the “stuff” they will get. That being said, I know that receiving gifts is a common love language for many people, so I like to give my kids something to express my love in case they fall in that group. Instead of material gifts though, for Valentine’s Day I give them gifts of my time, attention, and leniency in the form of this Printable Valentine Coupon Book. I use the blank version to customize each coupon book for each of my children. My husband gets Love Coupons.
Decorating is not my forte so I like to keep things simple in this area. Paper heart cutouts strewn about or taped to walls and doors (perhaps hanging from the ceiling for those of you who are better at this than I am) are a quick and easy way to set the tone for this holiday.
Vases or jars filled with pink, red, and white candies or decorative beads are an easy way to add festivity to all areas of the house, as are flower arrangements sporting the telltale Valentine colors.
I found this cute little ladybug with the beginning sprout of a rose bush for just $5 at a local store and decided it would make a great centerpiece. I told my family it was a “love bug” and to ensure sufficient groaning from my teens for my cheesy humor, I also added that we could plant the rose bush outside and “watch our love grow.”
Valentine’s Day is a fun theme for dinner since the simple act of creating food in shapes seems to make it more appetizing to kids and hearts are easy to form. This year I bought some heart-shaped cookie pans for just a few dollars each to make these heart-shaped pizzas.
You could use heart-shaped cake pans to make casseroles, lasagna, or shepherd’s pie.
Don’t want to invest in a pan you’ll only use once or twice a year? Break out the heart-shaped cookie cutter and simply add heart-shaped toppings to your meal (e.g. biscuits on chicken pot pie, cheese slices on casserole).
If you’re super gung-ho about heart-shaped food, use those cookie cutters to make heart-shaped melon pieces, pineapple, or cucumbers too.
I know that for many people, candy hearts or candy kisses are an obvious choice, but since my kids always get plenty of candy from their classmates, I like to do something different. Also, if you didn’t notice that I chose the laziest dinner option above, I tend to avoid labor and time-intensive Valentine desserts like homemade heart-shaped cakes and cookies expertly frosted with cute sayings. These are great choices, if you have the time, ingredients, and energy, but this year that wasn’t me.
Since my family loves ice cream (no matter what the weather), this year I decided on an adorable Teddy Bear Ice Cream Cake from Baskin-Robbins. Not only is he covered in chocolate frosting (a favorite flavor in my house) with a red frosting scarf, but his OREO® cookie ears and the flexibility to choose the cake and ice cream flavors underneath all that chocolate (I chose vanilla cake and cookies and cream ice cream), made him the perfect choice to end our Valentine’s Day dinner. And since the cake can be ready within 24 hours after ordering, he fit easily into my last-minute plans.
If you want to include a Baskin-Robbins Teddy Bear Cake in your Valentine’s Day celebration, it’s easy to do. They have over 7,400 shops worldwide and almost 2,500 in the United States so it’s likely there is one near you. You can choose any of their ice cream flavors for your cake. I went with cookies and cream because it’s my family’s favorite, but I was tempted by the February flavor of the month – Chocolate Hazelnut. Did I mention you can order online? As someone who spends a large part of her day in front of a computer, this was a major selling point for me! Visit www.baskinrobbins.com/onlineordering to order and customize your own Teddy Bear Cake or browse through Baskin-Robbins’ gallery of other creative and eye-catching ice cream cakes.
To highlight the theme of Valentine’s Day I like to have my kids go around and say one thing that they love about each member of the family. Here’s a tip if you decide to do this – Don’t start with the family joker who will list items involving bodily functions or ridiculous attributes. Whoever goes first usually sets the tone so choose someone who will be sincere (typically the youngest child).
This year, my oldest is away at college so we all wrote down what we love about him on heart-shaped paper to add to his next care package. It wasn’t until after I took the picture that I bothered to read them which is why I’ve had to blur out names and inappropriate remarks (teen daughter, I’m talking about yours!).
Of course, to really reinforce the sentiment of Valentine’s Day, you can work as a family to spread the love even further. Make Valentine cards and/or treats for nursing home residents or for the homeless. Call friends or family members who don’t live nearby to say hello as a family and let them know you are thinking about them. Or, perform a random act of kindness as a family.
I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration to enjoy a loving and memorable Valentine’s Day with your family. If you have your own ideas or traditions that aren’t listed above, please share them in the comments.