Looking for the perfect way to show your little guy or gal you love them? Let HowStuffWorks give you tips and tricks to make this Valentine's Day a budget-friendly occasion with lots of heart. Check out these 10 tips for some great Valentine's Day ideas.
The Ultimate Valentine
Kids might want store-bought cards to pass out in class, but moms and dads know that for that special someone, homemade is the only way to go. Making valentines can be a fun activity for families to engage in together. There's really no end to the creativity you can inspire in your children. Here are a few tips to get to the ball rolling:
Paper can be folded like an accordion, cut into the shape of an animal, chopped up to look like a lacy snowflake, shaped like a lily pad with a lollipop, folded to contain some candy treats, or anything else you can think of. Then it's just a matter of stamping, painting, coloring, beading, weaving, glittering, stenciling, finger painting, splattering, stitching and matting your way to a homemade treasure that rivals anything in the card aisle.
Getting valentines can be a big deal for kids, so to get them ready for the excitement, help them create a one-of-a-kind mailbox for all those special deliveries. Like cards, the sky's the limit when it comes to the different ideas you can cook up for a cool Valentine's Day-themed mailbox.
Mailboxes can be made from the real thing or they can be simpler smaller creations. You can use shoeboxes, coffee cans, tissue boxes, paper bags, cereal boxes -- pretty much anything you can get your hands on. Then, you and the kids can dress them up with paint, glitter, pompoms, doilies, lace, felt, wrapping paper and lots of other adorable accoutrements.
Tip: Most national craft store chains carry mini metal mailboxes for only a few dollars. They are easy to paint, too!
Valentine Arts and Crafts
If you're looking for a cool project you and your children can create this Valentine's Day, crayon hearts are one super-easy idea. Just pick up a cookie sheet with heart-shaped molds and gather up all the wax crayon stubs you can find. Take off the wrappers and stick the crayons in each little heart. No need to worry about the color combinations -- the more mixed up the colors the merrier. Melt the crayons in the oven, let them cool and the coloring can commence.
There are lots more crafts perfect for Valentine's Day you can try with your children, too. Tissue paper flower bouquets, heart-shaped pins made of plaster of Paris and spinning paper mobiles of Xs and Os are all creative ways to share the spirit of the holiday with children.
Did your child ever tell you that "everyone" bosses him (or her) around? Why not show your love by letting them be in charge for the day? You can give them a "menu" of choices, from a picnic in the park (if weather allows) or a day at the movies or a romp in the ball pits at Chuck E. Cheese's.
If you're hoping to broaden their horizons, their "menu" of choices might include local museums, botanical gardens, nature preserves, aquariums, amusement parks, airfields and walking tours. Just keep in mind that area attractions could be crowded on Valentine's Day.
Alternatively, if you want to spend some time getting cultured at home, rent a movie about a faraway place that they'd like to visit or an historical movie about how we landed on the moon.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
If funds are low, activities as simple as a family bike ride, an exhilarating game of capture the flag or a no-holds-barred snowball fight with the neighbors could do the trick. Valentine's Day is just shouting to be reclaimed from card and candy makers, and what better place to start than right in your own back yard!
If the weather is too frosty in your area, consider a game of hide and go seek around the house or a scavenger hunt. Read books and comics together, or embark on marathon finger painting sessions. Perhaps the old toy chest needs a fresh coat of paint and a little flair, so let the kids have at it with your enthusiastic support.
When was the last time the kids put on a play or concert for mom and dad? Especially with games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, there's sure to be a performance waiting to happen.
A Little Something Special
After a month and a half, Christmas presents have probably started to fade into the woodwork. What about starting a new tradition with a Very Merry Valentine's Day? Parents: Hit the dollar bins for some inexpensive gifts for the little ones. Or, Consider puzzles, games, movies, books or clothes -- whatever's up their alley can be a great way to brighten their Valentine's Day.
Gift giving can also be a way to kick off an interesting day, especially if the gift is project-oriented. Maybe the present is a new model airplane kit, an easel and paints or a tea set.
The goal? Get your little Valentine's imagination spinning.
Share the Love
Valentine's Day doesn't have to be just about the people who are already important in your and your child's lives -- it can also be the perfect opportunity to make new acquaintances. One great way to do this is to spend time baking cookies or cupcakes together -- with the appropriate red, pink and white color schemes, of course -- and then sharing them with new people. Share with the new neighbors on the block or a classroom friend you don't know that well.
Residents at senior living facilities and homeless shelters are great candidates for fulfilling new friendships. If you're looking for a social atmosphere, senior centers can be just the place to find some interesting elderly people to interact with.
If Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday, like it happens to this year, it can be a wonderful chance to share with your children the spirit of volunteering. Maybe there's a Habitat for Humanity build going on in town or a nearby stream that needs litter picked up on the banks. A local wildlife refuge might need some assistance, Meals on Wheels could use a driver -- and a pint-sized co-pilot -- for the day, or a neighborhood food pantry might welcome a few helping hands to handle incoming donations. Not only are you spending time with your child, you're showing them how they can express love and caring for the world around them.
Candy, Candy, Candy
What Valentine's Day would be complete without a little candy surprise for the kiddies? Colorful candy hearts and store-bought chocolates aside, there's lots of fun to be had creating tasty treats from scratch.
Peanut butter fudge, chocolate cream cheese fudge, white chocolate truffles, raspberry shortcakes, chocolate-dipped strawberries, butterscotch pralines, pecan pudding, rice crispy hearts -- there are lots of options to please even the pickiest taste buds.
Baking a special treat with your child not only lets you spend some quality time enjoying each other's company, it's also a great way to let your little Valentine know they're extra special. Consider having a few of their friends over, too, for a Valentine's Day Cookie Party.
Dinner Is Served
If you haven't spoiled your appetite by the end of the day, there's nothing like the fun of eating bright red mashed potatoes, accompanied by some pink apple sauce and pork chops to round out the family holiday fun.
Or get more creative with your menu: Rosy rice, pretty pink pasta, crimson cream soup, terra cotta tilapia, maroon mozzarella, chestnut-colored cheesecake, persimmon pudding, magenta meringues, scarlet scrambled eggs -- the sky's the limit. If your family is into breakfast foods at all hours of the day, heart-shaped pancakes could be a hit. Put a little pink whip cream on top and it's perfect.
Amazing what a little food coloring can do to add a perfectly memorable conclusion to a great Valentine's Day for you and your children, eh?