Valentine's Day PartyA Valentine’s Day party is a perfect opportunity to have kids over to your house for fun and crafts. Unlike a birthday party for a single child, a seasonal party like this puts all the children on an equal footing. A Valentine’s Day theme of love and affection also provides a good opportunity to talk about focusing on others.

Planning is the key to any party’s success. The more you think through the details, the easier it will be. So plan ahead to make a guest list, menu, and a list of the games you’ll play or the activities you’ll have on hand to keep everyone busy. Pick a date and send invitations as soon as possible, either via email or snail mail. Buy cups, plates, cutlery, and napkins and ask one or two moms to help out.

Have a Heart

Activities make a party fun, and they keep the kids engaged. Just make sure they’re age-appropriate. Here are some ideas:

  • Set up a table for making Valentine’s cards. Your child can help by putting out construction paper sheets, doilies from the dollar store, markers, pencils, scissors, and glue sticks. You may want to make a few sample cards for any reluctant artist to copy. Curling ribbon is an inexpensive decorative touch.
  • Jodi Levine, editorial director of Martha Stewart Kids, suggests “stained glass” hearts as a pretty craft. “Your child arranges crayon shavings between layers of waxed paper and you iron it until the crayon shavings melt. After it cools, kids cut heart shapes out of the waxed paper.”
  • Stay within your party budget by using recyclable materials for a Valentine’s station. “I never throw away paper towel and toilet paper tubes,” says Levine. Kids can make cars or castles or cute Valentine bracelets.
  • Place a few jars of brightly colored jellybeans or M&Ms around the room, and have each child guess the number of candies in the jar. The winner takes home the jar.
  • You and your child can bake plain cupcakes or heart-shaped sugar cookies a few days before, and prepare white icing. Each guest can dye his own frosting, frost his cookie, and decorate it with small candies and marshmallows. Guests can take home their creation or eat it on the spot.
  • Older kids can play Valentine Bingo. Design your own set of cards with words such as heart, love, kiss, friend, hug, pink, red, February, etc.
  • Have kids make Valentine coupons that they can enclose in a card for family members. The coupons can offer services such as “free back rub,” “clean up my room without complaining,” or “free hugs and kisses.”
  • Other Valentine games your guests might enjoy are a candy hunt, relay races, and a candy toss.

Snack Attack

Always check with parents to see if any child at the party has a food allergy. “Keeping all guests’ needs in mind, and finding ways for everyone to feel included, are keys to every party’s success,” says Lori Sandler, the author of The Divvies Bakery Cookbook: No Nuts. No Eggs. No Dairy. Just Delicious! (St. Martin’s Press, 2010).

Serve red food such as strawberries, red apples, slices of red bell pepper, licorice, Hershey’s kisses, M&M’s, cinnamon candies, or red jellybeans. “Cut the ends off of a long piece of licorice and use as drinking straws,” says Sandler.

After your last guest has left, take advantage of your colorful decorations and keep them up for the rest of the month. Your kids will be reminded of a Valentine’s Day party where they got to be creative, think of others, and just have fun.

Jan Udlock is a mom of five and a freelance writer. She loves both jobs most of the time.