Every year, my kids’ school does a Valentine fundraiser. Parents and grandparents can purchase pink and red carnations to be delivered to children during the day. Personal notes can be attached or the bouquet can be anonymous. It’s also possible to order fancy chocolates to enjoy as a family or gift to a loved one later.
Candies, cards, and flowers – these are the traditional hallmarks of Valentine’s Day. This year, consider adding an explicit spiritual dimension to your celebration with one of these activities:
Movie themes. Pick a recent movie with a love theme, such as Elemental, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, or Trolls Band Together, and watch it as a family or group. Invite children to notice the different kinds of love relationships that develop among the characters. Ask: How does each character show their love to others? In addition to romantic love, what other types of love are being expressed? How do you like to show others you love them?
Card reactions. Valentine cards come in many forms: silly, sweet, pop culture-related, mushy. Invite kids to sort their valentines into categories of their own making. (Offer suggestions if they ask.) Then suggest that different kinds of cards typically evoke different kinds of reactions. Encourage them to demonstrate their reactions to each type. For example, silly cards might generate big smiles and laughter, whereas a pop culture card might prompt them to reenact a favorite scene from a show.
Sweet messages. Candy hearts with short sayings are a Valentine’s Day staple. Invite children to create their own sweet messages by drawing or cutting out hearts in several colors and then adding a short saying they would like to share with a loved one. Alternatively, use icing pens to write messages on heart-shaped or round sugar cookies. Encourage kids to pause and reflect on what they really want to say to a specific person before they decorate each piece of paper or cookie.
Hugs & kisses. Many people express love through physical touch: hugs, kisses, high fives, pats on the back or arms around waists/shoulders. Invite children to imagine greeting someone they love. Ask them to mime their interaction without using words. Suggest that they pair up to act out their scenes, using ‘air kisses’ or other playful actions to show their feelings if physical touch feels uncomfortable.
Chain reactions. Receiving love from others can encourage us to pass it along. Invite children to play a game where they imagine how a love chain might work. Sit in a circle. Hold up a paper heart (or any heart-shaped object) and say: I want to show you my love by ____, filling in the blank with an action. Then pass the heart to the next person, who says: Wow! That’s love! Then they turn to the person on their other side and the sequence repeats. Keep going until everyone has at least one chance to receive and pass love on. If there are only two of you playing, pass the heart back and forth until you run out of ideas for how to show your love to each other (or tire of the game).