February is a great time to focus on family fun and traditions by hosting a Valentine’s Day party. It is a perfect opportunity to have some children 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 key to the success of your party. The more you plan and think through the details of your day, the easier it will be on you, and it will make the day more memorable. Ask your child who he/she would like to invite and what activities he/she would like to have. Make a list of the children you are going to invite, the food that you’ll serve, as well as the games your guests will play.
Pick a date for the party and send out invitations three weeks ahead of time, either through email or snail mail. You can easily pick up cups, plates and napkins at the dollar store. Depending on the age of the children, ask one or two moms to help at your party.
Activities and games
Activities make a party fun, and it keeps the children busy. Set up a table for making Valentines and have all of your supplies at hand. Your child can help by putting out a variety of different color construction paper sheets, doilies that you picked up at the dollar store, markers, pencils, scissors and glue sticks. You may want to make up a few sample cards for the reluctant artist. Curling ribbon can be an inexpensive addition to cards.
Jodi Levine, Kid’s Director of Martha Stewart Living, suggests “stained glass” hearts as a pretty craft for your party. “Your child arranges crayon shavings between layers of wax paper and you iron it until the crayon shavings melt. After it cools, they cut heart shapes out of the wax paper.” Visit www.marthastewart.com for details.
Keep within your party budget by using recyclable materials for your Valentine’s station. Let the children explore with their art projects. “I never throw away paper towel and toilet paper tubes,” says Levine. Children can make cars, 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 each jar. The winner takes it home.
You and your child can bake plain cupcakes or heart-shaped sugar cookies a few days before and also prepare white icing. Each of your guests can dye their own frosting, frost their cookie and then decorate their treat with small candies and marshmallows. They can take home their creation or eat it at the party.
Older children can play Valentine’s Bingo. You can design your own set of cards with words such as heart, love, kiss, friend, hug, pink, red, February, etc, or you can download and print a set of cards from www.brparent.com. 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.”
Children love to trace their hands. “Have them trace their hand on construction paper. Cut out the tracings and add fun messages like ‘you’re handsome’ or ‘hold my hand’ and attach a candy,” says Levine.
With all of these activities, it is recommended to try them out beforehand to make sure they are age appropriate for your child’s guests.
Always remember to check with parents to see if any child 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, author of The Divvies Cookbook: No Nuts. No Eggs. No Dairy. Just Delicious!
You can serve red food such as strawberries, licorice, red apples, Hershey’s kisses, M&M’s, 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,” says Sandler.
After your last guest has left, take advantage of your beautiful decorations and keep them up for the rest of the month. A Valentine’s party is a great opportunity for children to be creative, think of others and just have fun.