Host a Kid-Friendly Valentine's Day Party
Date: February 1, 2011
Now that the end-of-the-year holidays are over, February is a great time to add some fun into your and your child's winter days by hosting a Valentine's Day party. It's a perfect opportunity to have some kids over for fun and crafts. A Valentine's party is also a good time to talk to your child about focusing on others.
Planning is the key to party success. The more you plan and think through the details of your special gathering, the easier it will be for you and the more memorable a time.
Ask your child who she'd like to invite and what activities she'd like to have. Make a simple list of the kids to invite, the food you'll serve and the planned activities.
Planning and preparation
Pick a date for the party and send invitations in advance, either through e-mail or snail mail. Purchase cups, plates and napkins at the dollar store, along with other needed supplies. If children are young, consider asking one or two parents to stay and help. Or, turn it into a parent and child affair to share the fun.
Activities make the party fun and keep guests busy. Set up a table stocked with a variety of supplies for creating valentines. Your child can help by putting out different colored construction paper sheets, doilies from the dollar or supply store, markers, pencils, scissors and glue sticks. Curling ribbon is an inexpensive, decorative addition. You may want to make a few cards as samples for the reluctant artist.
Jodi Levine, kid's director of Martha Stewart Living, suggests making "stained glass" hearts as a Valentine's Day party craft. Children arrange crayon shaving between layers of waxed paper. An adult irons it, between kraft paper, until the shavings melt. After it cools, kids can cut heart shapes out of the multicolored result. (See www.marthastewart.com/good-things/crayon-hearts.)
Keep within your party budget by using recyclable materials for your valentine-making station. "I never throw away paper towel and toilet paper tubes," Levine says. Kids can make cars or castles or cute bracelets with these items.
Sweet party favors
Place a few jars of brightly colored jellybeans or candy-coated chocolate pieces (like M&Ms) in the party area 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 and prepare white icing a few days before the party. Guests can dye their own frosting, frost their cookie or cupcake, and then decorate their treat with small candies and marshmallows. Kids can take their creations home or eat them at the party.
Games and gifts
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., or download and print a set of cards from the Internet.
Kids love to trace their hands. "Have them trace their hand on construction paper. Cut out the tracings and add fun messages, like 'You're hand-some' or 'Hold my hand,' and attach a candy," Levine says.
Older children can make valentine coupons for family members that say "free back rub," "clean up my room without complaining," or "free hugs and kisses."
Other Valentine games your guests can play are a candy hunt, relay races and a candy toss.
Try all activities in advance to be sure they are age-appropriate for your child's guests.
Check with parents to see if any child has a food allergy. "Keeping all guests' needs in mind, and find ways for everyone to feel included, are keys to every party's success," says Lori Sandler, author of The Divvies Cookbook: No Nuts. No Eggs. No Dairy. Just Delicious!
You can serve red food such as strawberries, licorice, red apples, M&Ms, slices of red bell pepper, cinnamon candies or red jellybeans. "Cut the ends off of a long piece of licorice and use as drinking straws," Sandler suggests.
After the guests leave, take advantage of your beautiful decorations and keep them up for the rest of the month. A Valentine's Day party is a great opportunity for kids to be creative, think of others and just have fun.
Jan Udlock is a mom of five and freelance writer. She loves both jobs most of the time.