Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to show your family how much you care. But playing Cupid doesn’t have to be complicated—in fact, some of the simplest touches can actually be the sweetest. Whether you’re looking for a personalized card, a few sweet decorations or a surprise dessert for the whole family, we’ve got some quick and simple ideas to make your Valentine’s Day extra special.
A sweet holiday
Tasty treats and sweet concoctions are a traditional part of every Valentine’s Day celebration. But you don’t need to buy fancy chocolates or spend hours cooking a gourmet meal to make your day sweet. Check out a few clever culinary shortcuts that will satisfy your sweetheart’s appetite, as well as your own timetable and budget. For example:
No-Bake Chubby Cherub Cake: If you’re short on time, but big on sentiment, this is an excellent dessert solution. Using a store-bought poundcake, some pink cherry icing and a few sprinkles, this treat takes just minutes to put together. Whether you’re serving up dessert at a party or the end of a family dinner, this cute confection is "just desserts" for all your valentines.
To make the Chubby Cherub Cake, cut a triangle slice from the middle of the pound cake and set it aside (or gobble it up yourself.) Close the triangle gap by sliding the remaining halves together to form a heart shape. Use one can of pink cherry icing or tint a can of white icing pink with a few drops of red food coloring and use to generously ice the top and sides of the heart-shaped cake. Decorate to your liking with extra icing or sprinkles and enjoy.
Valentine’s Day is about showing your true colors—in this case red, white and pink. With a few drops of red food coloring, even the most mundane menu can look pretty perky. Start your Valentine’s Day off with a cleverly colored breakfast buffet featuring morning mainstays with Cupid’s touch.
Pretty in Pink Pancakes: Add a few drops to pancake batter and try pouring them in a heart shape. Substitute usual maple syrup with whipped cream and red sprinkles or strawberry-flavored syrup.
Positively Pink Milk: A few drops of red food coloring added to your kid’s milk glasses or the cream for your spouse’s coffee will tickle them all pink.
Cheesy Valentine Bagel: Add a pink punch to ordinary cream cheese with a few drops of red food coloring and spread on your favorite bagel.
A Valentine’s Day Toast: Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut regular bread slices into heart shapes. Pop in the toaster and spread with raspberry jam or butter and red decorator’s sugar.
And don’t forget about the other foods whose natural colors lend themselves to the festivities, like pink grapefruit juice, berry yogurt, strawberries and cherries.
Setting the mood
Want to add a little atmosphere? No need to load up on expensive store-bought decorations. Decorating for Valentine’s Day can be as simple as a few paper heart cut-outs hung in the windows or a couple strands of white holiday lights strung around the stair banister. Add a little romance and cheerfulness to your Valentine’s Day celebration with a couple of these easy ideas.
Fuzzy valentine garland: Use fuzzy red pipe cleaners to make a super-simple garland to string across a doorway, around your dinner table or up a staircase. Fold a full-sized pipe cleaner in half and then wrap ends around and twist in the center to create a heart link. Cut pipe cleaners in half and twist ends together to make single circular links. For even more variety, make links out of purple, pink and white pipe cleaners. Warning: The wire pipe cleaners can be sharp on the cut ends and parents should help younger children when twisting pipe cleaners.
Red and white valentine table setting: Gather your favorite red and white checkered picnic tablecloth, your ordinary white napkins, a few red and white votive candles and plain white dinner dishes to create a total Valentine’s Day table setting. Cut small square confetti out of red and pink construction paper to scatter on plates, tie napkins and stemware with leftover red holiday ribbon and make heart-shaped place cards using red and pink markers.
A little "light" decorating: Reuse those white holiday lights to create a warm and cozy glow in your dining room, family room or entryway. String lights on house plants, along window sills or doorways to add a festive glow to your Valentine’s Day.
Special Valentine’s Day cards may be the hallmark of the holiday. Make it a family affair by scrounging up scraps of fabric, buttons, tissue paper, glitter and glue and spend a special afternoon creating personalized greetings. Looking for a fresh idea? Have the kids try the fun, hand-traced card featured below to surprise parents, grandparents or a special teacher.
Gotta hand it to you, Valentine ... This is truly a "hand" made card, created by tracing your child’s hand in a way that delivers a "hearty" message. Start by folding a piece of construction paper in half. Lay your child’s hand down with their thumb and index finger on the folded side. Trace their hand lightly on the paper with a pencil and cut out the hand shape, leaving the thumb and index finger fold in tact. Hold the card with the fingers pointing down and open it to reveal a big surprise—a heart-shaped cut-out between the hands.
Need a few valentine slogans for your "hand" made creations? Try these messages:
Outside: Gotta hand it to you, Valentine... Inside: You’ve got my heart!
Outside: You’ve won me over, Valentine... Inside: Hands down!
Outside: I have something to give you, Valentine... Inside: My heart belongs to you.
Sharon Miller Cindrich is a freelance writer and mom.