Valentine’s Dinner with Kids
Photo Props & Valentine’s Lunchbox Notes
One of my favorite traditions for my family is the way we celebrate Valentine’s Day.
When the boys were small, my husband worked midnights. I’m still not sure how I made it through that time period, taking care of four boys under the age of 6 while my husband worked hard for us at night and slept hard during the day.
The weird thing is, even though it was a crazy few years with that horrible schedule, I was way more fun and spontaneous! Maybe because I was so young, having had all four of my kids by the time I was twenty-five.
Or maybe because it was like Lord of the Flies and I did what I had to survive.
Our First Family Valentine’s Celebration
Well, on Valentine’s Day, 2011, Handsome Hubby had left for work around 4:30 p.m. It was “witching hour” and the boys were making sure I knew it.
I pulled chicken enchiladas out of the oven (instead of my hair out of my head) and had an idea. I asked the boys (only three of them at that time…. #4 wouldn’t come until 2012), if they wanted to get dressed up and have “fancy dinner” with Mom for Valentine’s Day.
I was stunned by their enthusiasm as they screamed “YES!!!!!”.
We hastily threw on clothes that made us feel fancy. The boys did their best to eat with their silverware and drank Shirley Temples. We took pictures and danced and just had a spontaneously fun night.
Here are a few pictures from that sweet, simple memory.
The Fun Continues
And so, we’ve continued these fun Valentine’s Day traditions every year, tweaking them as we go: adding new things and taking out others.
It was especially exciting when Handsome Hubby was no longer on midnights and could finally join us, and the years when my stepdaughter was with us for Valentine’s Day!
2018 was the year we moved from Illinois to Georgia. Handsome Hubby moved first in February, while the boys and I stayed up north to finish the school year. We had to get creative, but we still found a way to celebrate together… thank the Lord for FaceTime!
What I’ve Learned
Since we’ve been doing this for many years, I’ve learned some things along the way.
For a couple years as this tradition evolved, I started to put way too much stock in dressing the kids in more formal clothes and cooking an elaborate dinner. I eventually had to remind myself how simply this thing we look forward to every February 14th originally began.
READ ALSO: Modern Christian Homemaking – The challenges women face with homemaking and how to overcome them.
It began as a way to have some unplanned fun with the kids on a regular weeknight that happened to be Valentine’s Day. It was never supposed to be a Pinterest-perfect, stress-inducing, “let’s top last year’s celebration” type of thing.
I’ve become better about planning ahead so the evening can be stress-free and enjoyable as we make some lasting memories. I’ve ditched the things that felt more like obligatory “to-do’s” for things that help celebrate our love as a family.
If you would like to start some Valentine’s Day traditions with your family, here are some areas to consider:
- The Clothes
- The Ambiance
- The Menu
- The Activities
- The Purpose of the Memories
We have done this many ways. For a few years, we went way more formal and I ended up being stressed.
As the kids have gotten older, they find dressing up less and less amusing. Or maybe it’s because now there are more events throughout the year that require a more formal attire, so the novelty has worn off.
Either way, the past couple years we went more casual.
Wear whatever you and your family are comfortable with! Here are some ideas:
- Cozy Pajamas Or Sweats
- Valentine’s Day t-shirts
- Red, White, and Pink
- Let your kids pick what the adults wear
- If you want to feel like Fancy-Folk for an evening—-DOOO IT!
I learned that boys really do like the lights turned down and candles on the table. It helps bring calm to dinner time, and helps them feel like the evening is more revered.
I usually set the table up while they’re at school. A plastic tablecloth, table confetti, and candlesticks (all from the Dollar Tree) go a long way to set the mood and let the boys know it’ll be a fun evening… one where it’s okay if they spill.
Oy, this one.
When I think about how much overthinking I did, and how much overworking I did— I wish I could go back. I didn’t need to “prove” anything to my family or Facebook friends with homemade ravioli and chocolate-covered strawberries.
I realized the boys didn’t care what we were eating, except for the ONE thing they looked forward to every year: Cupid Floats. It’s basically like a root beer float, except you pour strawberry soda or raspberry ginger ale or cherry 7-Up over vanilla ice cream. That is literally ALL THEY CARE ABOUT!
This past year, I made potato soup and called it a day. And it was wonderful!
Make whatever you want, or get take out. Have cereal by candlelight—now THAT would make for a long-lasting memory! Whatever you do, don’t let the meal be something that drains your energy and takes up too much of your evening.
We keep it pretty simple with the activities— no use stressing out with an overload of things.
- Photo Props: We love to have fun with silly photo props. I usually throw a plastic tablecloth on a blank wall and we just have fun with it. I created some Valentine’s Day photo props for you! Get yours here.
- Q-pid: The boys love this game. I got some heart-shaped bowls from Walmart several years ago. Everybody will need a straw (this is the “bow”), and some q-tips (these are the ”arrows”). Insert a q-tip in one end of the straw and blow on the other. Try to make as many q-tips into your team’s bowl some distance away. My boys will spend all night playing this because we only play it once a year!
- Lunch Notes: These aren’t an activity for the evening, of course, but they are a great way to show some love throughout the month! You can throw them in lunchboxes or pass them out at the breakfast table. Get yours here.
READ ALSO: Simple DIY Command Center & Chore Chart – A simple solution to organize a busy family.
The Purpose of the Memories
My boys look forward to our Valentine’s day traditions every year.
If I’m being honest, sometimes it’s overwhelming to know that I’m responsible for shaping most of their memories—good and bad. It’s a lot of pressure!
But when I remind myself that the point of all this is to make them feel loved and to have fun, it helps put everything back into perspective.
I encourage you to remember the purpose of the things you’re doing for and with your family!
What are your Valentine’s Day Traditions?
I’d love to hear what you already do to celebrate with your family. Do you think you’ll add some of these ideas into your traditions? Drop a comment and let me know! Have fun celebrating with your funny valentines this year!
Your Free Printable
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**The Lunch Notes and Photo Props will come in one PDF file. You can print all 28 pages or choose whichever ones you desire. I recommend printing them on card stock for better durability. Tape a wooden craft stick to the back of your photo props and you’re all set! Don’t be afraid to fancify some of them with glitter too! Sending you all the love this Valentine’s Day!
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