Ditch the heart-shaped box of chocolates and show your little cherubs how much you love them with these creative gifts and activities. You’ll make Valentine’s fun for everyone – and you may even help your daughter forget that she didn’t get roses from the boy she not-so-secretly likes.
Worth a Fortune. Bake your own fortune cookies with personalized messages inside to remind your kids just how lucky you are to have them. Find recipes online at http://www.allrecipes.com. Got baker’s block? Order custom cookies online at http://www.e-fortunecookie.com.
Tattoo Love You. Write your child’s name in a heart on your bicep tattoo-style, snap a photo and send the picture to her cell phone or e-mail account. She may laugh or groan, “Oh, Mom, you’re so lame,” but deep down she’ll know you love her.
Teach Speech. Give your kids the gift of giggles with Mad Libs in Love by Roger Price and Leonard Stern (Price Stern Sloan, $3.99), a collection of 24 stories for kids to complete using nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives of their choosing. Aimed at kids ages 4-8, these wacky stories make loving fun.
Bursting with Love. Write a Valentine note on small strips of paper and slip each strip into an inflated balloon before tying the knots. Let your child hop and pop and then reassemble the phrases of your love letter. Make sure to keep balloon bits away from little mouths — they can be a choking hazard.
Love in Any Language. Je t’aime (French). Te amo or te quiero (Spanish). Taim i’ ngra leat (Irish). Ich liebe dich (German). Make a set of heart-shaped flashcards. On one side, write “I Love You” in a foreign language. On the reverse, give three hints to the language displayed. For instance, “Home of the Eiffel Tower, Capital City is Paris, Famous Leader was Napoleon Bonaparte.” You’ll build social studies skills and laugh like crazy pronouncing your love for each other.
Hungry for Love. Make lunchtime all about hearts by cutting kids’ sandwiches into a heart shape using a cookie cutter or knife. Want to go all out? Buy bread tinted pink at your local bakery to make sandwiches extra-Valentiney.
Just Say “Spaaaaa.” Make bath time extra special with bubble bath, heart-shaped soaps, and pink and red bathtub paints. To make your own, mix a few drops of food coloring into a dollop of shaving cream in a bowl. Let kids paint the walls of the tub or themselves for some foamy fun. Be careful to check that the paints won’t stain fixtures or skin before indulging.
Buy the Book. Give your child a book that says how much you love him. For little readers, try I Love You Through and Through (by Bernadette Shustak, Cartwheel, 2005, $8.95). Take an older child on a date to the bookstore and enjoy a hot chocolate together while browsing.
Puzzled by Love. Buy a do-it-yourself puzzle card or create one yourself by mounting a picture and message on cardstock and cutting puzzle pieces your child can reassemble. Decorate a box or envelope to hold the pieces.
Can’t Hide My Love for You. Have a scavenger hunt at home. Hide chocolate kisses with clues attached to direct your child to a final family event — perhaps a love-themed movie night or an indoor dinner picnic complete with a heart-shaped pizza. Spending time together is the best gift of all.
Heidi Smith Luedtke fell head-over-heels in love with her son from the moment she saw him. Read her blog on parenting as a leadership experience at http://www.LeadingMama.com.