by Michelle Hillaert & Victoria Wyant
Do you know what I love BEST about Valentine’s Day? I love that we have this amazing opportunity to celebrate the very essence of our faith, and more importantly, we get to draw our children into this in a very real and experiential way.
What am I talking about? Why LOVE of course! God is love. He calls us to LOVE Him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and to LOVE our neighbor as ourselves.
On Valentine’s day, we have this incredible opportunity to show our children just how much we love them, to celebrate the story of St. Valentine, who was passionate about God’s love and martyred for his faith, and to help our children express this love to others.
And I get it Valentine’s Day can also come with some mixed emotions. It can be a struggle with the idea of celebrating or promoting what could be perceived as another overly commercialized holiday. A day of hearts and gasp glitter. We might feel somewhat forced to give a card or mastermind some elaborate love-themed gift in the name of Valentine’s Day.
Today, we are here to remind you of the true meaning of Valentine’s Day. A day to celebrate, and imitate the Love of God and God’s love for us.
When Valentine’s Day is seen with the lens of the virtue of Christian charity and God’s infinite Love, we have the most beautiful reason to celebrate, to pause, and to reflect. It’s a beautiful lesson we can share with our little people, our families, friends and those we meet.
In this light, Valentine’s Day becomes more than just cheesy cards, candy hearts, stuffed bears or overpriced roses. It is a day that can serve as a reminder to be grateful for God’s love for us and to remind us of our commitment as Christians to be His hands, feet, and most importantly, His heart, here on this earth.
So how can you celebrate this day of L-O-V-E? We’re putting together some ideas for you to help get your creative juices flowing.
Below you’ll find some helpful tips to make this day (or week) special, and some fun and easy ideas and how-tos that you can implement while still somehow managing to keep your sanity!
First: Be prepared!
I know, it should be a no-brainer, right? But Valentine’s Day has a way of creeping up on us, so in the next week, decide on your plan (feel free to use the ideas below) and set a couple of goals to get things done before having to make that late-night Walmart run the night of the 13th (you know we’ve all been there).
Second: Set a Plan
What do you think your family would love? What would be special? How do your family members give and receive love? A super helpful resource that may help answer some of these questions is The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. The book is also supplemented with free quizzes online for couples, teens, kids, and singles. His basic premise is that we all give and receive love in 5 different ways or even a combo of ways. So while you may love to write your spouse long love letters, they may prefer an act of service or quality time with you. Trying to express love in the way a person wishes to receive love can truly change relationships. You can take the quizzes here.
Third: Keep it Simple
Not everything has to be Pinterest-worthy and social-media perfect. The best start to new traditions is simple and sincere. The number one goal with making Valentine’s Day special for your kiddos is that they know they are loved more than anything. It doesn’t have to take expensive gifts and elaborate plans to get this message through.
Running around stressed out while trying to accomplish a surprise for your family may end up having the opposite effect than the one you intend (speaking from personal experience). If this is new for your family, maybe just pick one or two ideas to start with this year. The biggest impact will be sharing love and the true meaning of why we celebrate this day.
We’re excited to share with you how we (Victoria & Michelle) celebrate Valentine’s Day with our families. At the end of this article, you’ll find a list of extra ideas and tips that you can pull from to make this Valentine’s Day special for your loved ones.
For our family, we usually try to have decorations up ahead of time. The kids love to help with this, so it is pre-holiday fun. They also like to try to make cards ahead of time for us or each other, so that is an ahead of time activity, too!
The night before, the breakfast table gets set after the kids go to bed. Donuts are arranged on a favorite platter and gifts arranged, coming down to a festive table takes me back to when I was little and my mom and dad did this for us, a tradition her mom started for them.
Gifts are usually something small and accompanied by a card letting each one know how much we love them, writing more as they get older. When they were really little, we drew pictures for them.
During the day, since we started homeschooling, we review St. Valentine and discuss ideas of how to show and share love.
For dinner, we stay in and celebrate with my husband who is usually gone before kids rise in the morning. The kids share about their day and we all share what we love about each other. Most years, it is either a simple Italian dinner or the homemade, heart-shaped pizza that the kids love to help make!
And of course, a dessert to follow because this day is just so sweet.
Trent and I get up at 5am every Valentine’s Day to start prepping a morning surprise for the kiddos. They really look forward to it every year. And even though it’s a lot of work, by the time everything is said and done, we always reiterate how much we love them and are willing to lay our lives down to make sure they know it, over and over again.
I’d love to say we always have everything set and ready by the time V-Day morning rolls around, but to be honest, we’ve always been somewhat last minute. So rest assured, that even if you’re planning this last minute, it’s completely doable.
Breakfast is always the same – gluten-free crepes filled with cream and topped with berries. Everyone gets a cup of piping hot coffee or hot chocolate.
Cards – We make cards every year for the kiddos. And yup! It’s usually done in those wee hours of the morning while we’re cooking and setting the table, too. Our biggest focus with the cards is to write a personal love letter to each child, again reiterating how loved and valued each child is in his or her own way.
Hearts filled with candy – We take two 8 ½ x 11 pages of pink or red cardstock and cut them into two big heart shapes. We then take a hole punch and punch holes all along the sides. We finalize the holders by “sewing” them together with yarn, leaving a loop at the top to hang them on the back of the dining room chairs where each child sits. We then fill each holder with Hershey’s kisses and Dove chocolates.
Table – We set the table with our fine china, display their cards in front of their place setting and make sure the candy hearts are hanging from the right chair.
Once everything is ready, the kiddos are usually all awake and just waiting outside the door excited to come in to see their “surprise.” So they come in, and we have this amazing opportunity to hear the little one’s squeals and see the gratitude on the faces of our six beautiful children.
IDEAS & TIPS to make Valentine’s Day Special!
Are you ready for some ideas that will help set the day apart and make it even more special?
Decorating gives a visual clue that something is different…think about Christmas and other holidays. When we see the sparkly lights on a Christmas tree or the Nativity, we have a visual reminder of something different to focus on.
- Dress the table: We like to use china for the special day! But there have been years when the dollar store offered a great selection of red, white and pink napkins, some with hearts! Add candles to the table and fresh or silk flowers!
- Decorations: Anything from homemade hearts taped on the wall, streamers, garland, or balloons (again the dollar store is a great place for cheap decorations!).
- Replace framed prints: Swap out pictures with prints of love quotes or pretty flowers. This is easy and can be done for any holiday. You could even have a couple of inexpensive frames you use just for this purpose!
- Pro-tip: Investing in items that can be reused not only saves money but also time. When Valentine’s is done, box it and it’s ready to pull out next year. Some of our fave reusable decor items are a satin fabric tablecloth that was purchased for a daughter’s birthday and foldable paper fans. Use paperclips to keep the fans open instead of the adhesive tabs and these are reusable for lots of occasions!
- Savings: If you love celebrating St. Valentine’s Day, and you are at the store following the day, grab a sale item to stash away till next year could be a gift, table runner or small decor item.
Prayer & Reflection
This, of course, is the real meat of the day! Especially if we are trying to make this day stand out for the reasons we mentioned above.
- Reflection: Prayer to St. Valentine, Bible passages about God’s love, prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, discussion on how much God loves us and how we can show love for others.
- Book to read for the day: St. Valentine as retold by Robert Sabuda.
- Pray the Rosary as a family.
- Prayer in the morning before everyone leaves or begins the day.
- Share what you love about each other verbally and pray for each other out loud.
Of course, echoing the ultimate Wedding Feast of the Holy Eucharist, most celebrations are centered on a meal. This day can be the same!
- Breakfast: Serve a special breakfast treat. In our home (Victoria), it is store-bought donuts (remember, I said keep it simple). You could do cinnamon rolls or pancakes, whatever works for your family and a busy morning schedule.
- See our BONUS Gluten-Free Crêpes Recipe below
- Include love notes in your family members’ lunch box, maybe even with a couple of Hershey’s kisses.
- Dinner: A “fancy” meal can be anything from lasagna with dimmed lights and drippy candles or homemade (or Domino’s) heart-shaped pizza followed by a dessert, which can be as simple as store-bought cookies or your favorite homemade treat. Or maybe you all love a specific restaurant and go out on the town!
This is where a lot of the fun can happen and also where planning ahead is helpful. Here is a round-up of some fun ideas for sharing the love.
- Before the holiday, help little ones do something special either for each other or your spouse (from homemade cards to a special gift).
- Swap cards with each other as a family.
- Love you to Pieces – Suncatcher card – this idea could also be used as a decoration.
- Valentine’s Day Activity Pack – something like this includes a word search, prayer cards, cut and color sheets and other fun for the day.
- Act of service for your community or each other (visit a nursing home or send cards to a local hospital).
- Go on a family date: dress up for dinner, a movie, bowling, a city tour, visit a museum… what is your family’s favorite? More ideas here!
- Simply making and decorating heart-shaped cookies is a fun and easy tradition…not to mention yummy.
- Give the kiddos a list of ways to be kind and show love to others throughout the day. Have it become a challenge to see how many ways they can check off during the day, and then talk about it over dinner.
We hope these ideas have been helpful and wish you and your family a most blessed and love-filled Valentine’s Day!
Do you have traditions that make this day memorable? Please share in the comments. We would love to hear from you!
- 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
- 5 1/2 oz (1 1/4 cups) ATK Gluten-Free Flour Blend found here
- 3 Tbsp plus 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- Your filling of choice — we use whipped cream + berries
- Place oil in 10″ nonstick skillet and heat over low heat for at least 10 minutes. While skillet is heating, whisk flour blend, 1 1/2 tsp sugar, and salt together in medium bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together milk and eggs. Add half of milk mixture to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Add melted butter and whisk until incorporated. Whisk in remaining milk mixture until smooth.
- Using paper towel, wipe out skillet, leaving thin film of oil on bottom and sides of pan. Increase heat to medium and let skillet heat for 1 minute. After 1 minute, test heat of skillet by placing 1 teaspoon batter in center and cook for 20 seconds. If mini test crêpe is golden brown on bottom, skillet is properly heated; if too light or too dark, adjust heat accordingly and retest.
- Whisk batter to recombine and pour scant 1/2 cup batter into far side of pan and tilt and shake gently until batter evenly covers bottom of pan. Cook crêpe without moving it until top surface is dry and crêpe starts to brown at edges, loosening crêpe from side of pan with rubber spatula, about 25 seconds. Gently slide spatula underneath edge of crêpe, grasp edge with fingertips, and flip crêpe. Cook until second side is lightly spotted, about 20 seconds. Transfer cooked crêpe to wire rack, inverting so spotted side is facing up. Return pan to heat and heat for 10 seconds before repeating with remaining batter, whisking batter often to recombine. As crêpes are done, stack on wire rack.
- Sprinkle upper half of 1 crêpe with 1 teaspoon sugar. Fold unsugared bottom half over sugared half, then fold into quarters. Transfer sugared crêpe to serving plate. Fill with your toppings of choice, we use whipped cream and berries.