So let me give this to you straight: I am a mom who kind of gets into celebrating the little holidays at home with my kids. Even aside from the “big” holidays like Christmas and Easter, we go all out for St. Patrick’s Day, St. Nicholas Day, and yup, Valentine’s Day. In fact, my son remarked on the way to school today that he couldn’t believe he didn’t have the day off for Groundhog day.
But while I get into the fun of celebrating for my kids’ sake, there’s also one big caveat I have about approaching these days—any type of celebrating we do has to be simple and enjoyable for me. The key, as I said, is keeping the traditions and the celebrations simple and easy enough for me to pull off with minimal amount of effort, while still being “cool” enough for the kids to get excited about. So here’s our how family makes celebrating Valentine’s Day a special tradition in our home.
Keeping it Simple
While I am admittedly a mom who loves celebrating the simple days my kids get excited about, I’m not about to go all out for something that will only exhaust me, because the truth is, kids have plenty of fun that we never did. Elf on the Shelf, classroom parties, birthday parties, constant entertainment, and um, Netflix at their fingertips? The kids will be all right, with or without anything extra on your part.
All that to say, I’m not the kind of mom who thinks my kids “need” to have elaborate-themed celebrations. We’re definitely the box-baked cake, go play with a hose in the backyard kind of family, but I love the idea of creating simple traditions and celebrating holidays while my kids are still young and innocent enough to get excited about those sorts of things. We have things like a “leprechaun” scavenger hunt, gingerbread house decorating competitions for Christmas, an egg hunt for Easter, a “fancy” appetizer dinner for NYE, and setting shoes for St. Nick in December.
A Valentine’s Day Tradition for the Whole Family
Our Valentine’s Day tradition started about a decade ago, when my oldest daughter was only two. I happened to come across a chocolate fountain on clearance and I picked it up on a whim. Little did I know that a tradition was about to be born.
That one chocolate fountain has become our family’s go-to for two special nights a year: New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. There’s just something about starting the year off swimming with chocolate and showing our love for each other in chocolate. I keep things super simple by using the skewers that came with the fountain and cutting up fruit for the kids to dip, like bananas, apples, pineapple, raspberries and other “dippables” like graham crackers (especially helpful for little fingers.) Because we only pull it out once or twice a year, it stays a super-special event for the kids that they look forward to every year. And I was rather pleasantly surprised that despite the fact that the chocolate fountain is pretty inexpensive, they hold up really well. Our first once lasted 12 years and I just replaced ours after our New Year’s celebration last year.
I will say that if you want this tradition to be enjoyed by the whole family, including Mom and Dad, you may want to consider setting aside some separate melted chocolate for you both so you can avoid some ambitious kid-filled double dipping. Ahem.
Traditions Matter, so Make Them Your Own
Whether you decide on diving right into the chocolate fountain with my family or decide you’d rather skip scrubbing crusted chocolate off at the end of the night (understandable), the point is that if you’re feeling the urge to create some kind of tradition this year, go for it! Honestly, my viewpoint has always been that any excuse to bring some fun into an otherwise ordinary day is worth it.
But I’m also in full support of moms who don’t need another thing to make their lives harder, so the key to this concept is that 1) you have to enjoy it and 2) it has to be something you feel up to right now. If your kids are young and won’t even know the difference, why stress yourself out?
When you feel ready to introduce traditions into your family’s dynamic, make them your own. I’ve seen fun Valentine’s ideas like sharing paper hearts with things you love about your kids, having a Valentine’s Day brunch with heart-shaped pancakes and sprinkles, or just having a “fancy” dinner with the whole family.
In mine, a chocolate fountain just feels right, so that’s what we’re sticking with. Because some things just require a flowing river of melted chocolate.