By Heather Keenan

Candy.  Boxes of candy. Tubes of candy. Heart-shaped candy. Stuffed monkeys holding “Be Mine” hearts. Is this really how we should say “I love you?” Let me first fess up and say that in no way is Valentine’s Day my favorite holiday, not even close. I get the concept of wanting to make sure there is a special day each year to recognize those you love for all they do and for how much they mean to you. I’m not at all opposed to that.  I’m not a monster. But is buying stuffed animals and roses the right way to do it?  Maybe….but I like to think outside of the heart-shaped box.

If you, too, are looking for ways to celebrate this holiday of love, without the showering of gifts, I hope that you are able to use some of these ideas that I have come up with over the past few years.

1.  Door of hearts
Starting on the fourteenth of February, each night once my kids are in bed, I cut a heart out of construction paper and write one word that describes them on it. These words range from “happy”, to “artistic”, to “strong” and it lets them know that I love all sides of their personalities. I continue this through the month and by the end they feel loved and have awesome looking doors!

2.  Handmade Cards
We get them all the time from our kids.  My girls are sent home from preschool with make-you-melt-handcrafted-just-for-you gifts for all occasions. I wouldn’t trade these gems for all of the money in the world, and guess what? They wouldn’t either. So, get them to bed and break out the paper and crayons. They will be so happy and impressed with a made-by-mom card. My oldest still sleeps with a card I made her under her pillow every night. Priceless.

3.  Five Star Dining
At home, of course. Set the table, use cloth napkins (rings and all), break out the adult plates and cups, your kids will love it! And so will you because it is so much easier to eat out with a bunch of kids if you stay home. You could even go all out, light a candle and have them dress to impress for this fancy chicken nuggets and fries meal.

It is nice sometimes to not “buy in” to the holidays. Other times, it is nice to see your kid’s face light up when you show them the adorable, heart covered panda that you bought, knowing they are super into pandas right now. The most important thing is that you do what works for you and your family at that moment. Happy Valentine’s Day, folks, however you celebrate, much love!