Jan 4, 201208:18 AMMommy-logues

Exploring ways to be better (and more stylish!) parents

Sweet Ideas for a Kid-Friendly Valentine’s Day

Sweet Ideas for a Kid-Friendly Valentine’s Day

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, most people fall squarely into one of two camps. The first camp is made up of the V-Day shunners, many of whom claim that the holiday was invented by a conspiracy between greeting-card companies and candy manufacturers. The others are the unabashed V-Day celebrators, who wear red sweaters or ties all day and arm themselves with the tools of holiday: cards, candy, flowers, stuffed animals and a reservation to the most romantic restaurant in town.

I must admit, I fall somewhere in between. I’m not super-sappy or -sentimental, but I do like the idea of a holiday that celebrates love. To be completely honest, the decorations and flowers are a welcome reprieve from our cold, gray Pennsylvania winter. (And red is my favorite color.)

This year, by all means, call the sitter and spend a night out with your valentine. (You deserve it!) But you can also use the day as an excuse to get crafty, have fun, and remind your kids how much you love them with these heartfelt and homemade treats, decorations and gifts.

Eat Your Heart Out

Valentine’s Day food typically falls into one of three categories: chocolate, heart-shaped, or both. Mix it up a bit by “valentining” your child’s meals. Think pancakes in the shape of X’s and O’s or a heart-shaped omelet for breakfast (like this one from the local blog Feels Like Home). For lunch, make a Be Mine bento box, complete with a sandwich, fruits and veggies cut into the shape of hearts. Use a heart-shaped silicone baking cup as a storage container to fill with candies, nuts, dried fruit or other tiny delicacies. Red or pink foods, including strawberries, bell peppers, dried cranberries, and strawberry yogurt, fit the theme, too. (Designer Lisa Storms has some great ideas for this on her blog.)
Valentine’s Day isn’t complete without something sweet, and there’s little that kids love more than cupcakes. Make red-velvet or chocolate cupcakes, and then ice them with a white cream-cheese or buttercream frosting. Decorate the “canvas” with a pile of candy hearts, or arrange red cinnamon candies in the shape of X’s, O’s and hearts, as shown on Martha Stewart’s website. The cupcakes would be a sweet treat for a classroom Valentine’s Day party, and kids can help bake them and decorate the tops.

Love Is (Hanging) All Around You

Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to decorate the house-or throw a party. There are tons of simply ways you can make your home more festive and sweet with love-inspired banners, garlands, and other decorations. And you don’t have to break the bank doing so!

The blog More Design Please offers a collection of sweet but sophisticated ideas from around the web. To make garlands to hang across headboards, doorjambs or window frames, string together easy-to-find materials like cupcake wrappers on transparent thread or heart-shaped paper doilies on strings of white lights. Thread red and hot-pink pompoms in a random fashion on transparent thread and hang them from windows vertically. Cut out different sizes and colors of hearts from felt, string them together with thread, and hang them from a doorway.

Iron pink and red crayon shavings onto wax-paper hearts, and then string them onto silk thread to hang. The translucent hearts (another project from Martha Stewart) give the effect of stained-glass suncatchers when hung in front of a sunny window.
The blog Lemon Tree Creations has an easy-to-follow tutorial for making a banner of burlap flags stenciled with X’s and O’s or other love-ly words. The flags can be strung across a mirror or empty picture frame. The best part is that they can be used year after year.

Gifts From the Heart

Melissa Hoy, a Philadelphia artist who grew up in Carlisle, says that making silhouettes of your children is a fun way to give valentines a personal touch and capture a child’s face in an unexpected way. Simply take a photograph of your child in profile, enlarge it, and cut it out, with a piece of construction paper behind it.

Kids can use their silhouettes to make their own valentines, Hoy suggests, or parents can attach them to a valentine’s envelope instead of writing the child’s name. Children can also make silhouettes of themselves and frame them as gifts for grandparents, or they can capture their parents’ profiles and frame them facing one another as a gesture of gratitude.

The blog PaperVine has a great gift idea that would work well for kids or grown-ups. It’s a bit time-consuming to make, but it’s sure to be a special keepsake for the lucky recipient. Titled “52 Reasons I Love You,” a deck of playing cards is converted into a book that lists the things you love about your child or significant other. (The blog Peppermint Creative has another version of this project, complete with downloadable templates.)

If the boys in your life are turning up their noses at all the ushy-gushy hearts and pink stuff, be sure they don’t feel left out by making some treats just for them. Turn a lollipop into a caped crusader or a pack of Rollo’s into a stick of dynamite with a note that reads, “You’re the bomb!” or “You’re a blast!”
Any kid would love crayon hearts, made from “repurposed” (i.e., broken) crayons. Crayons of all hues are chopped into small pieces and baked in heart-shaped silicon muffins pans for 15 minutes at 230 degrees. These would make great classroom gifts or party favors, as well.

For these and other sweet Valentine’s Day ideas for kids, follow me on Pinterest.