I love Valentine's Day. I love going out. I love good food. I love romance. I love chocolate. The list goes on...
But sometimes the pressure of finding a babysitter for that one particular night, then heading out to an expensive restaurant only to find it will be a 1 1/2 hour wait time just to eat, seems like more trouble than it's worth. Last year, we decided to do something different - celebrate at home - family style! We still went out, but just chose a different night.
It was so much fun, for both us and the kids, and will definitely be a tradition that we'll continue on in our family.
Here's a pic from last year's "event" -
We got all dressed up, had a candlelight dinner for 5 with grilled steaks, baked potatoes, sautéed asparagus, rosemary rolls, and red velvet cheesecake for dessert, played nice jazz music in the background, then topped the evening off with a family game night. Such a great memory for us all!
Just to get you thinking "outside the box" - 10 suggestions are listed below - please list your own ideas too under the comment section. Would love to hear what you've done before or are planning for this year!
1. Candlelight Dinner - use the fine china with crystal, tablecloths, decor, centerpiece, after dinner mints - do the whole deal! Don't forget to have music in the background for added "ambiance." Dress up. Serve a nice dinner, maybe something you wouldn't normally have most evenings. Our kids love the sparkling grape juice too. Practice good manners, napkins in the lap, etc., just like you would expect in a nice restaurant. Troy acted as the "waiter" at first, speaking in his best French accent, then all the kids wanted to take turns - serving. (: And, this may be a given, but - no electronics or cell phones allowed - turn them all OFF.
2. Dance Night - after dinner, have a family dance night! Push the furniture way back, get your dance floor ready, and turn the music ON! Play old love songs, hip hop, 80's tunes, disco, country-western - whatever - but just have fun!
3. Game Night - when your kids hear "game night" - they may at first think, "Yay - Xbox or Wii!" But, we suggest - go old style for this night - dust off the Monopoly game, find your old deck of cards, make up a Charades game, play Guesstures or Pictionary - just get everyone together and do something that you may not normally do.
4. Karaoke Night - need I say more? So fun - lasting memories - cut loose - sing!
5. Scavenger Hunt - make up your own hunt around the house. You could use red heart notes for the clues - and at the end - have a big Valentine's surprise waiting. We did this once at Christmas time, our new puppy was waiting at the end of the game - our kids still talk about that from 2 yrs. ago. Such a great surprise, and a fun way for them to "find" her. OK - so you don't have to have a real, live animal at the end of your hunt, you could use candy or something else. But, FYI, we still have a kitten needing to find a home. (:
6. Encouragement Chair - we all love encouragement - speak it out to those you love the most! Put a chair in the center of the circle, each person takes turns sitting in that place, while others around say one thing that you love about that person or what you notice about their character. For example, "I see that you have such a gift of being a friend to many people. God has given you a heart to serve others and I believe He's really going to use that in your life for great purposes." "You are a very hard worker and in everything you do - you give it your all. That is such an inspiration to others to keep working hard at what they do." "God has gifted you with the ability to bring joy to many people, you can always make people laugh and have fun, keep your sparkle all through life!" You get the idea - make it about what you see on the inside. Your kids may need some help with this at first, it's OK to give some suggestions. But in the long run, it teaches them to look at "heart" qualities in others and builds them up as well as they hear inspiring words.
7. Dessert Bar - Chocolate Fondue - Build your own Sundae - Coke Floats - use your imagination - but do something different and make it fun!
8. Take the Party Outside - yes, at night! If you have a fire pit, or can build a campfire, do something fun like that! If not, you can still brave the outdoors, weather permitting, and do what you wouldn't normally do on most nights. Get out the telescope, look at the moon, bring blankets and pillows out to the yard and gaze up at the stars. Take a family spotlight walk, get out the flashlights, walk the trail or block, don't forget the dog! Sometimes, we take a family nighttime bike ride, only because we live close to a great trail system. We've shown a movie outside with a projector system on the garage door - drive-in movie style - we set up chairs, invited friends, brought out popcorn and drinks. Just do what's safe and fun for your own family, depending on where you live. The main point is - bundle up, get outside, and be together.
9. Family Talent Show - be creative, laugh at the crazy, enjoy the silly moments, share the hidden talents!
10. Neighbor Note Ninja or Service Project - leave kind words or encouraging post it notes for neighbors and friends around the block, leave it on their doors or the car. Kids love giving little Valentine's cards or treat gifts to friends! If there's a single mom on your street - or maybe a widow, older couple, or someone who may just need some extra love shown - leave a gift on their doorstep. Flowers or potted plants are easy to leave for a surprise - but a shared meal is a wonderful gift too. In the midst of all the fun of Valentine's, inspire a heart within your kids to give and to pray for others, especially for those who may need an extra boost of encouragement on that particular day.
Whatever you do - have fun - take the pressure off to fit the "norm" - think outside the box - enjoy your family - laugh - share - make a memory.
"Let all that you do, be done in LOVE." 1 Corinthians 16:14
Happy Valentine's Day!!!