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8 ways to make Valentine’s Day more meaningful for your family

In just a few days, February 14th will turn on our calendars once again.  In many parts of the world, this means it’s time to think about celebrating Valentine’s Day.

I realize there are quite a few people staunchly opposed to this “Hallmark holiday.”  It seems to have been created exclusively by retailers looking to profit from our mid-winter blues by enticing us to spend, spend, spend.

Once I become a mother, I realized that Valentine’s Day didn’t have to be revolve around bouquets of roses and teddy bears holding hearts.  Cardboard cut-out valentine cards are often quickly forgotten, but with a little creativity and thoughtfulness, this holiday can be made into a celebration that our families will find memorable.

Here are eight ways to make Valentine’s Day more meaningful for your family.

Celebrate as a family

Our culture tells us that Valentine’s Day is meant for romantic love, and certainly it is a nice day to take time to express your affection for that special someone.  Our children, however, aren’t interested in that aspect of this holiday, and this is the perfect time to instill in them the long-lasting strength of love within the family.

1. Fill a jar of sweet words.

Repurpose a jar that once held a sweet jam into a jar that holds sweet words for the family. You could have a theme for your jar – for example, “50 Reasons Why I Love Being Your Mama” or “20 Things Daddy Does That Make Me Smile.”  These little love notes can be handwritten or printed out from the computer.  Decorate the jar with tissue paper, magazine clippings, old calendar pages, and some decoupage.

Although this gift is presented on Valentine’s Day, it offers little words of affirmation for as long as the recipient wants to hold on to it!

Photo by Sean McGrath

2. Craft a box of memories.

Upcycle an old shoebox into a box of favorite family memories. Encourage family members to write these memories down and contribute other sorts of memorabilia as well.  Children from preschool age on up can contribute the memories that mean the most to them, and they never tire of hearing stories from when they were babies and toddlers.

Make plans to spend time together on Valentine’s Day going through the box and discussing some of the best times you have shared as a family. Find more inspiration for upcycling at repurposeful and at etsy trashion blog.

3. Create a coupon book.

Although some adults might find the idea of a coupon book to be a little bit trite, kids often see it as a fun and valuable way to enjoy some favorite activities. Parents can present coupon books to kids and vice versa, or everyone in the family could draw names and create a custom coupon book for the family member they selected.

Of course, children will always look forward to the candy-eating festivities that normally accompany Valentine’s Day, but how often is a heart-shaped lollipop really memorable?  Memories are guaranteed when a child redeems a coupon for “one day spent with Dad at the ball park.”

4. Write an emotions book.

Photo by evelynishire

All of this talk about love makes an excellent jumping off point for talking about all kinds of feelings. Parents of younger children could print out My Heart . . . A Book About Feelings for each family member.  Filling in the pages offers valuable talk time as you get to know each other a little better by exploring feelings.

5. Enjoy a scrapbook day.

Start a new family tradition centered around photographs from the previous year.  It doesn’t matter if your family’s picture archives are as simple as traditional, plastic-sleeved photo albums or as elaborate as professional-quality scrapbooks; what’s important is taking time to stay up-to-date on your preserving family memories.  What better day than Valentine’s Day to look back on the ways your family loved each other in the previous year?

Celebrate in your community

Celebrating love within the family meets a tremendous need for each of us.  And with our own love-tanks filled, we may be inspired to move beyond the walls of our home to bless our communities.

6. Plant a seed.

Photo by dsb nola

A few years ago, a eco-minded friend of mine shared the idea of replacing candy and flowers with seed packets. We all love to receive blooming bouquets, but there is something special about giving a gift that invites participation from the recipient.

For my daughter’s first Valentine’s Day party at school, she will be giving little envelopes containing seeds of her favorite flowers – sunflowers.  We were delighted when our sunflowers bloomed last summer, and we hope the families in our community who receive these seeds will enjoy the simple rewards of an amazing display of nature’s beauty.

7. Tend to others.

Visit a home for the elderly or a hospital wing on Valentine’s Day.  Take homemade Valentines with you, or bring along the supplies to make Valentines with the people you are visiting.  So often, the very presence of others is more of a gift than a glittery piece of cardboard, so don’t worry too much about what you have made – just focus on connecting with others.

8. Express gratitude.

There are so many people in our communities who quietly do their jobs so that our lives are a little easier.  Valentine’s Day is a great day to take homemade cookies to civil servants, librarians, police officers, fire men, members of the clergy, and others who don’t often receive the recognition the deserve.

Let’s show our children that Valentine’s Day can be about expressing gratitude, not all about what they have received.

In what unique and meaningful ways does your family celebrate Valentine’s Day? Do you have some time-honored traditions for this holiday you can share?

Reading Time:

4 minutes





  1. Allie

    We normally make dinner together ( homemade heart shaped pizza) although this year I think we will do pancakes instead! I have already made my 3 year old a coupon book of things we can do together ( read an extra book at bedtime, go for a walk, have a hot chocolate) , we want to make sharing love about sharing time more than gifts or candy. He also always gets a book- not necessarily a Valentine’s day book – but any excuse I have to buy him one I do.

    • Megan

      Oh, I love the heart-shaped pizza idea! My girls would be THRILLED with that. Thanks for adding those coupon book ideas – so fun!

  2. Crystal & Co

    I love, love, love this list! The first one is my favorite- the love jar.

    I shared it with my readers and linked it back to you.

    Thank you so much for such great ideas!

  3. Alenka

    What a great ideas! Love them!
    Already shared on FB and Twitter.
    Thank you,

    • Megan

      Crystal and Alenka – glad you enjoyed the ideas! Happy celebrating!

  4. Nicole

    I love the different perspectives you offered for this holiday. I blogged a little about doing something in the community for Valentine’s on my blog. Perhaps some of the readers would find it encouraging as well. The link is here:

    Thanks again for your thoughts.
    .-= Nicole´s last blog ..A Woman After God’s Heart =-.

    • Megan

      Great link, Nicole! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Jodie R.

    Thank you for this post! I have one: you could always pop out a baby on Valentines Day like I did last year 🙂 Our son is pretty meaningful to our family!
    .-= Jodie R.´s last blog ..Thrift, Thrift, Everything is Thrift! =-.

    • Megan

      So sweet! I have two friends who are on “baby watch” with little ones arriving any day now. Best present ever!

  6. Sarah Clachar

    Love this list. I watch my children’s eyes when we tell stories about when they were younger. And it makes them feel so important. They love it – and feel so loved. It’s the ultimate “I see you”. (And we get asked to tell these stories over and over again!)

    We’ve made burgers shaped like hearts with local pasture fed beef and grated apples. Ketchup makes great decoration! And they’re easy to form!

    Another tip – do a special family active activity – go ice skating, take a hike, take a walk, even just put on some good tunes and shimmy around a bit. It’s a way of taking care of your heart and giving your kids the gift of loving movement and exercise that will keep their hearts strong and healthy as they get older. We’ve found some of our biggest family love moments in being active together. Nothing like saying I love you than doing something to take care of each other’s health. More ideas at

    • Megan

      Yes, Sarah! I love it! Actually taking care of our REAL hearts is a great way to love our families. Brilliant!

  7. Emily

    I love the idea of a jar of sweet words. My husband and I read that 5 Love Languages book together recently and his love language is encouraging words. We are having a snow day today so I am going to help my son make one for his dad.

    We usually go out to dinner EARLY on Valentine’s Day with several other families who have kids. Our favorite sushi place gets all decorated for the romantic dinners later and we take advantage of the festiveness before the dating crowd arrives. It is fun to celebrate with the kids. They are our true loves too!
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..Snacks vs. treats =-.

    • Megan

      Such a fun idea! Even before we had kids, we used to go out for early V-Day dinner.

  8. Ruthie

    This year we are going to have a special dinner that my pre-schoolers can help me put together. A simple Chicken Cacciatore with Pesto Potato Beans & Potatoes then Homemade Lemon Curd Cups with Rocky Road. We are going to wrap some of the Rocky Road up and give it to family members. Enjoy the Kid Friendly Valentines Day Menu & Shopping List.
    .-= Ruthie´s last blog ..By: Ruthie =-.

    • Megan

      This sounds divine. Can we come over, too? 😉

  9. aimee

    love these ideas! we are being induced with our second child the day after valentine’s day so i like the idea of the jar filled with reasons i love my husband/family.

    also absolutely adore the flower seeds idea. our daughter is 2 1/2 so probably a bit young to give seeds to her friends but will definitely do that as she gets older.
    .-= aimee´s last blog ..a dangerous sport =-.

    • Megan

      What a memorable month for your family then! I can imagine this Valentine’s Day will be a very special and memorable one for your family.

  10. Malia

    I’m the same way about Valentine’s Day – after I had kids it became more of a family holiday than a romantic holiday. I always make a heart shaped cake for our family to enjoy. Sometimes I have a small gift for them (this year I’m thinking of getting them each their own backscratchers since they’re always borrowing mine!). I like the sweet words jar idea and the community ideas.
    .-= Malia´s last blog ..Oh, hai! I iz bad blogger. =-.

    • Megan

      Thank you, Lynne, and Malia – LOVE the backscratcher! Both of my girls would be so into that.

  11. Jenni at My Web of Life

    I love the seed idea! We are making our valentines today after school and I am going to suggest this idea to the kids. I personally am going to create the jar of sweets for my three little sweets (and one big sweet). Thanks for the great ideas!
    .-= Jenni at My Web of Life´s last blog ..Just Sharing the Love… =-.

  12. Raelee

    I love the sunflower seeds idea. We have a special religious holiday time at the end of February, so Valentine’s Day gets neglected. However, we are planning a little party for my daughter’s class for our celebration and this is the perfect gift for all of her classmates as our celebration is all about the coming of spring. Beautiful suggestions! Thanks so much!

  13. Jenni at My Web of Life

    I love the seed packet idea! My kids and I are going to work on their valentines after school today and I’m going to strongly suggest this one! I also plan on making my own jar of ‘sweets’ for each of my sweets. Thanks for the great ideas Megan!
    .-= Jenni at My Web of Life´s last blog ..Just Sharing the Love… =-.

  14. Eren

    Oh, these are great Megan! Around Thanksgiving we add to our thankfulness jounal every year…I have been meaning to do a similar LOVE journal to bring out every year during the week before Valentine’s Day. You just gave me the extra little push to make it happen this year. And…I love the jar of sweet words. We’ve been working on being more “kind” with our words and this will work perfectly.

    • Megan

      Oh, we have been working on kind words a LOT here. (Including, um, the Mama!)

  15. Maya

    I love the idea of giving seeds instead of sweets!!
    What a wonderful idea. Thanks Megan!

    • Megan

      Thank you Denise and Maya! I learn so much through this community. I’m thankful to share anything that might inspire others.

  16. Jackie Lee

    What a wonderful post. I’ve been thinking how I could make Valentine’s Day more than a commercial holiday for my 3 year old. I love the jar of sweet words, and I also love the idea of giving seeds. She’s working on valentines for her classmates now. I’m going to see if we can incorporate some seeds somehow. 🙂 Thanks for all the great ideas!

    .-= Jackie Lee´s last blog ..Vegetable Garden Planning =-.

  17. Anita

    Love your blog post 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Megan

      Thank you Anita, and Jackie Lee – I have to say that I never would have thought of the seeds idea on my own! I’m lucky to have creative friends.

  18. Lynn

    I absolutely LOVE the “jar of sweet words” idea! YOU have solved my V-Day gift dilemma. My husband and I have a $15 cap on spending for V-Day (it’s $0 for Christmas – we give to charity instead, only dinner out for anniversary and discretionary for birthdays but we try not to spend more than $100 for anything). I am always looking for creative and thoughtful gifts that make the person feel special without spending a lot of $.

    • Megan

      The jar of sweet words costs nothing and lasts a LOT longer than candy and flowers! 🙂

  19. J

    I LOVE the idea of giving flowers in the form of seed packets! So simple, elegant, inexpensive, and low-calorie! 🙂 Thanks for the idea.

  20. Kiersten

    I love number eight. Graditude is truly the best attitude.
    .-= Kiersten´s last blog ..Defining Your Role =-.

  21. angie

    I have been reading “The Story of St. Valentine: More than Cards and Candied Hearts” (from Voice of the Martyrs) to my kids. IT is a lovely picture book about Valentinus (or Valentine) and the stand he made for Christ. We like to teach our kids the origin of holidays, so we’ve been reading about how Valentinus was martyred for refusing to worship the Roman gods and for continuing to marry young couples against the orders of “Claudius the Cruel”. Claudius thought that preventing weddings would help him recruit more soldiers. By some accounts, Valentinus was able to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with Claudius before being executed in 269 A.D. Each year we will learn more details, such as how the church of Rome made this holiday to replace the Lupercalia Festival, the origin of Cupid, etc.
    .-= angie´s last blog ..Blogging =-.

    • Julia

      Thanks for the book recommendation, Angie. I’ll keep it in mind for the future. We received a board book called “The Story of Valentine’s Day” by Nancy J. Skarmeas that is just right for our younger kids. We want them to start learning what holidays should mean from the toddler years onward.
      .-= Julia´s last blog ..Crafts of the Week: Easy Quilled Paper Hearts and Fabric Wrapped Vase =-.

  22. Teri

    I love the seed packet idea. I am definitely going to use this idea. Thanks!

  23. Jan (Family Bites)

    These are wonderful ideas. We celebrate Valentine’s Day with a family breakfast. Something yummy and decadent. And this year, because Chinese New Year is the same day, we’re going to celebrate that at dinner.
    .-= Jan (Family Bites)´s last blog ..Decorated Goods in Five Minutes =-.

  24. Christine

    Last year I made valentine’s for each of the kids with a list of 10 things we love about them (i.e. their adventurous spirit, their laugh, etc.). The kids absolutely LOVED them. I was surprised at just how much they cherished their lists. Instant tradition.

    We’ll definitely be making one of those jars for Daddy this year. Thanks so much for the idea. Perfect project for a 1/2 day of school on Friday.

  25. Maria

    Thanks for the great ideas! I especially like the idea of giving seeds. Our family usually makes heart shape cookies together. For the past couple of years I make
    Valentines for everyone and write on them “What’s sweet about (Name)?” Then make a list of specials traits about that person. I like to keep them around. One day my son was having a hard day. Giving him a hug, I pulled out his heart valentine and read his to him. It helped cheer him up!

  26. exhale. return to center.

    thank you so much for this megan.

    i hadn’t realized until i read your second line how much i have resisted celebrating valentine’s day because of the forced, buy-buy-buy, hallmark feel to it.

    your list of ideas helped me to see it in a whole different way.

    thank you.

    .-= exhale. return to center.´s last blog ..gathering :: mamaste mothers’ circles =-.

  27. Ruth

    I love this list, especially the jar of love. Last year my son made his own valentine cards, I just got the cards ready, and some red and white paint, some sparkles and he went to town, and then we sent them to all the people that he loved. He wanted everyone to get mail. We also made pizza in the shape of a heart, we made mini pizza’s so everyone got to put on their own toppings. It was a lot of fun.
    .-= Ruth´s last blog ..Cookie Monsters =-.

  28. Period Dramas

    What lovely ideas these are. The jar full of sweet words and giving seeds are really wonderful suggestions! I will definitely remember those! Thanks a alot for sharing them! 🙂

  29. Period Dramas

    What lovely ideas these are. I particularly like the jar idea and the suggestion of giving seeds! I’ll remember those! Thanks very much for sharing!

  30. Adva

    Hi Megan,

    Lovely to meet you and your site – I’m going to explore it in depth! 🙂

    May I add 2 ideas to your great list? –

    1. Make cards to remember: make one for each family member, add photos or images that relate to each one (this can be turned into a guessing-game – which card belongs to whom?); inside, write some interesting things about each other (I posted this more elaborately here – )

    2. Collect all family members’ handprints in oil color/gouache/water color, frame it nicely and hang on the wall. We’re going to do this tommorrow and I’ll post a photo on the same blog – pets included, of course! 🙂

    Happy Valentine!
    .-= Adva´s last blog .. =-.

  31. Laura

    This year, I am sitting down with my five-year-old and making Valentines that complete the sentence “I like…” So for each friend and family member, she is thinking of one thing she likes about that person and writing it down. It has been a lovely exercise, and I hope will make for more meaningful Valentines for the recipients as well.
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..Wooden pegs + Recycling = Dollhouse =-.

  32. Luschka

    I absolutely LOVE and think I will do that first one. One of my husband’s main ‘love languages’ is affirmation. He needs to hear and be told that he is loved. I think that will be a GREAT gift. Thanks so much for sharing!
    .-= Luschka´s last blog ..Becoming a Better Blogger =-.

  33. Cheri

    I love all of these ideas so much! Gifts given from the heart are always the most special.

  34. Kate

    Thanks for the thoughtful list of ideas. I hate the thought of making Valentine’s Day another holiday where my girls expect gifts and miss the point of what the day could be. These suggestions will keep us from allowing our celebration to be over-commercialized!

  35. Pot Luck Mama

    I’ve been giving coupon books as gifts my entire life (my mom started it:)) They went from “will empty dishwasher” to “will give foot rub” to “good for one trip to Starbucks” (this when, as a teenager, hanging out with her was no longer cool) and so on. When I started giving them to my husband they became “will iron: 3 pcs.”, “get out of jail free card” and one or two naughty ones;)

    I wonder what I’ll give my kids when I start giving them to them…:)
    .-= Pot Luck Mama´s last blog ..Spiritual Preparation =-.

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