7 Family Activities to Fill February with Love

IMG_5572In my family growing up, Valentine’s Day was pretty mellow.

I remember working with my sister to make Valentine cards to bring to school, putting a few conversation hearts in each envelope (after carefully screening what each heart said so that we wouldn’t be giving any boys the wrong idea).  I also remember making elaborate Valentine’s Day mailboxes to bring to school to put on our desks and then everyone would deliver Valentines to everyone else’s mailboxes. Then, on Valentine’s Day morning, we always found our cups at the breakfast table full of candy from our sweet mom. Valentine’s Day was nice. It was sufficient.

I went through my teenage years and twenties dreading Valentine’s Day. It seemed like a horrible holiday that caused a lot more pain than joy as it reminded every unattached girl and woman what she didn’t have. On the few occasions when I did have someone I was dating or interested in around Valentine’s Day, there was plenty of angst trying to figure out what actions or lack of actions on Valentine’s Day might actually mean.

Once I was married, I quickly found that Valentine’s Day angst didn’t go away! Plus I realized that getting flowers and going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day wasn’t all good – the price of flowers in February is crazy and getting a table at a restaurant and finding a babysitter can be way more trouble than it’s worth.

But in the last few years, I’ve learned to really love Valentine’s Day.

While my husband and I do some special couple-oriented things around Valentine’s Day, we’ve decided to focus Valentine’s Day itself, and really all of February, on celebrating FAMILY love, not just romantic love.

Here are some  activities that help make February wonderful for our family:

1. Heart Attack

One of my favorite family activities is the “heart attack” we give each other. Towards the beginning of the month (usually the first Monday of the month), we cut out construction paper hearts (all sizes and colors), write down what we love about a  family member on each heart (the little kids dictate to someone who can write), then stick the completed hearts all over our kitchen cabinets. It’s great to see what everyone comes up with ands we’re all reminded of the love we share every time we’re in the kitchen. Plus it’s an easy and meaningful way to decorate for Valentine’s Day.

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2. Jar of Love

IMG_5571We started a new tradition a couple years ago year that we LOVED (got the idea from one of our great Power of Moms readers – thanks, Brianna!).  We brainstormed a bunch of simple little activities that celebrate the love we have for those around us (examples below), wrote each one on a little slip of paper, and put all the slips in a jar. Starting at the beginning of February, the kids trade off picking a slip of paper from the jar at breakfast and then we do the activity on the paper they pulled out sometime that day. If we draw out an activity that won’t work that day, we draw out a different activity that might work better. Some days, we don’t quite get to doing the activity we chose and that’s okay – we put it back in the jar for later. It’s our goal to get to at least seven activities from the jar during February – but we keep it nice and flexible!

Here’s what we put in our jar:

  • see how many hugs and kisses you can give today
  • “heart attack” someone’s front door
  • take a treat to someone
  • do a “secret service” for someone in your family
  • do something nice for someone outside your family
  • read a story about loving and caring for others
  • pop some popcorn and watch a fun movie that has a love story (Princess Bride is our favorite)
  • make a special Valentine for a school or church teacher
  • give a sincere compliment to someone today
  • write a nice note or email to someone you love who you haven’t seen for a while (see below for one example)

Here’s a Valentine’s letter one of my kids wrote last year on the day we drew “write a nice note to someone you love”:

valentines letter

3. Mommy Dates

During February, I love to take each of my children out for a special little “mommy date.” Since I’ve got a busy schedule and five children, these dates are pretty simple (stuff like picking up a child from school at lunch and going to a favorite fast food place, stopping for ice cream on the way home from a basketball practice, or simply going with me to the grocery store one-on-one and choosing a favorite treat plus the ingredients for a favorite family meal that week).  I try to do Mommy Dates throughout the year and I’m spotty at best.  But during February, I make a real point of ensuring that these special dates happen.

4. Valentine’s Day Breakfast Treats

On Valentine’s Day itself, it’s my tradition to set the table nicely the night before and decorate with some special candies and chocolates for each child (I’ve started keeping heart-shaped containers from year to year, simply refilling them). And I put some of my husband’s favorite treats in his bowl.

We always eat yogurt with granola and berries on top for breakfast (easy, yummy, festive).

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5. Valentine’s Day Dinner 

At dinner on Valentine’s Day, everyone shares something specific that they really love about the person to their left (or right, take your pick!). I like to make a dinner that the family especially loves (one year I did take-and-bake heart shaped pizza which was a big favorite – and so easy!).  I heard of a family that always has a candlelight dinner on Valentine’s Day and I think we’ll try that this year as well.  Candlelight isn’t just for romance – it’s great whenever you want to create a calm and different ambiance for dinner.

6. Valentine’s Notes

Some years, I’ve written a love note to each member of my family and given it to them sometime on Valentine’s Day. In my notes, I’ve written down my current top 10 favorite things about that person.  I love this opportunity to really think about how much I love my children and husband and have shared some beautiful moments with them when I’ve found a quiet moment to share my note with them.

7. “We Love to Be a Family Day”

I love how my Power of Moms partner, April, celebrates this special day in February. We’re going to try it this year. Ideas, instructions and planning templates are found here: A Valentine’s Day Tradition Your Family Will Never Forget.

No matter your circumstances, talents and bandwidth, there are ways you can make February really special as you emphasize the love your family feels for each other and the larger world.  I hope you’ve found some helpful ideas here and please share your ideas below!

QUESTION: What are some of your family’s favorite Valentine’s activities?

CHALLENGE: Do something fun and new to celebrate your family’s love this year for Valentine’s Day

This post is sponsored by:

donny osmond home

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Comments

  1. Heidi Brady says

    Great ideas, Saren! Thank you for sharing them. Can’t wait to do them with my family this year and in the future.

  2. HW says

    Last year I found the idea online to take treats to widows/singles on Valentine’s Day. We did it and the widows loved it. It is a family tradition now!

  3. says

    I’ve felt the same way about v-day. my daughter is 3 and really getting stuff now and I have been tickled planning v-day for her this year! I had the brilliant idea, (and now seeing this post, I know i’m not the only brilliant one out there!), to mage it a family day! take away the romantic side and keep the love! great ideas!

  4. Kelli Connell says

    Thank you Saren! I love the focus on family love during February and can’t wait to try several of these ideas this year.

  5. Trine says

    Lots of wonderful ideas! I really love playing up holidays with my little family. Somethings that we’ve done is after eating heart shaped pizzas we do chocolate fondue- my girls think it is so fancy and wonderful to have their own little fondue forks and dip things in chocolate. If we dont do fondue, then I make hot chocolate, we put chocolate kisses in it and call it love potion and sit by a fire drinking our “love potion”. This year I was thinking to ask my husband to get out the guitar and serenade me and the kids with some awesome 90’s power ballads he still remembers while we do this. I sure love this site and both of your great examples, thank you for all you do and contribute to the world!
    Oh, and one more thing, last year my husband was away during Valentines day, so I offered to babysit a friends kids while they went out on a date and I did the fire and love potion and guitar playing with my kids and their friends, and it turned out very fun. So if you have to be without your sweetheart, it can still be wonderful!

  6. Corinne says

    I always make my kids a coupon book. I put things like an extra bedtime story, I’ll do one of their jobs, going out for ice cream, or staying up a little later.

  7. Chantelle says

    I love these new valentines day ideas I am excited to add them to our February! I really enjoy all the great information on your site!
    We started something with my family last year that I loved for Valentines Day. We called it “The LOVE challenge.” We started about a week before valentines with a family meeting on love, what it is, why we show it, and we listed some ways we show love. Then I taught my kids the 5 love languages (touch, words, service, spending time, and gifts) and we talked about how different people show love in different ways. We used the examples we had listed and talked about which love language they were so the kids could understand better. Then I challenged the kids (and parents) to show all 5 kinds of love to all of the people in our family during the week. I made them a simple chart to check off and keep track. When they were finished with the chart they received a “special love prize” (the candy I was going to give them for valentines day anyway:). It turned out wonderful! I loved how the kids “loved” each other during the week. It was great to see my kids express love in a language that is not as easy or comfortable for them. I can’t wait to do it this year.

  8. Tamra says

    Great ideas! Thanks. We do a V day family dinner where we serve all red& pink food. With a heart shaped cake for dessert. The table is decorated & covered in candy. Some years we take night a couple of weeks before V day & we each make “pockets” like from elementary school. Everyone gets excited to leave and find little notes or treats in the pockets that are attached to the wall in the kitchen or on bedroom doors.

  9. Ann says

    One year I realized how many kissing pictures my husband and I have together, from when we were dating, engagement photos, photos from our wedding day, etc. So I had them printed as 4 x 6’s and taped them up all over our entry room (we joke about PDA) and kitchen, along with paper hearts of all sizes, and completely surprised my husband. Now every year I pull out all those pictures and put them up again. It’s not only fun (and funny) for us to look at these kissing pictures, I think it’s healthy for kids to see their parents showing affection to each other.

  10. Sara says

    Thank you for this post and all the great comments. I have new ideas brewing for Valentines this year! I needed this push of encouragement to try something different and special this year! Thank you again!

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