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By Lia Blanchard

Who says Valentine’s Day is only about the romantic side of love? Love has many facets, all worthy of celebration, but an extra special kind of love is the kind we have for our children.

Staying home?

The whole day is filled with opportunities to delight our children – and delight ourselves in the process.

Morning surprise. Put something small on their pillow so that when they open their eyes, your little package of love is the first thing they see. The idea is to keep it small.

    • Book
    • Small candy kiss
    • Crayons and a coloring book for a younger child
    • Gift card to local hangout for a teen
    • Handmade “coupon book” for free hugs, extra phone or computer time, a later bedtime or curfew, sponsor a sleepover or teen hangout night, extra dessert, game night

Breakfast. Whip out that heart-shaped cookie cutter and use it on pancakes or muffins. Serve strawberries too – they’re naturally heart-shaped!

Activities. Young children who are home during the day will enjoy doing crafts or coloring.

Perform random acts of kindness. On each other!

Dinner in. Give mealtime a Valentine twist with heart-shaped burgers and red taper candles on the table, surrounded by heart confetti.  If you use candy hearts as confetti, make a place setting or card by attaching a photo of your little “sweetheart” to the inside of the box, so that their face is framed by the clear plastic heart. Make it a magnet by attaching magnetic tape, and you’ve got a three dimensional card/placeholder/magnet!

Dessert. Dessert was made for Valentine’s Day! Get that cookie cutter out again for heart-shaped fudge or cookies. How about red velvet cake for dessert? No need to run out a buy a heart-shaped cake pan!

If you do go out

There’s a huge variety of things to do if you’d rather head out. You can choose to spend a lot of money, or nothing more than the gas in your vehicle.

Check out your local library. Libraries often sponsor fun craft-making time for toddlers and preschoolers. It can be an out-of-the-house adventure for everyone – with no cleanup!

Neighborhood activities. Most communities offer activities with a variety of costs and activity levels.

    • Go ice skating
    • Visit a children’s museum
    • See a play
    • Head to a park to play in the snow
    • Take a class together – check your local Parks and Recreation department

Dinner out. Head to a family-friendly restaurant so everyone can have fun. Note: This can be a very busy night at restaurants, so plan for wait times or make a reservation.

Don’t forget the most important thing

The important thing is to be together, so don’t do everything yourself. Let the kids participate in whatever they enjoy – planning, crafting, decorating, or cooking are just a few ways in which kids might want to participate.

Next: Being Single on Valentine’s Day

Valentines Day Kid Cookies