by Jan Udlock
Now that the holidays are over, February is a great time to add some fun into you and your child's days by hosting a Valentine's Day party. It's a perfect opportunity to have some kids 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 the key to success of your party. The more you plan and think through the details of your day, the easier it will be on you and will help make the day more memorable. Ask your child who she'd like to invite and what activities she'd like to have. Make out a simple list of the kids 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 out at your party, too.
Activities and Games
Activities make a party fun, and it keeps the kids 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 cards as samples 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 is a pretty craft for your party. "Your child arranges crayon shavings between layers of wax and you iron it until the crayon shavings melt. After it cools, they cut heart shapes out of the wax paper." http://www.marthastewart.com/good-things/crayon-hearts
Keep within your party budget by using recyclable materials for your Valentine's station. Let the kids explore with their art projects. "I never throw away paper towel and toilet paper tubes," says Levine. Kids can make cars or castles or cute Valentine bracelets.
Place a few jars of brightly colored jelly beans or M&Ms around the room, and have each child guess the number of candies that are in the jar. The winner takes home the jar.
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 kids can play Valentine 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 the net. Older kids can make Valentine coupons for family members that say "free back rub," "clean up my room without complaining," or "free hugs and kisses."
Kids love to trace their hands. "Have them trace their hand on construction paper. Cut out the tracings and add fun messages like 'you're hand-some' 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.
Other Valentine games your guests can play are a candy hunt, relay races, and a candy toss.
Always remember to check with parents to see if any child has a food allergy. "Keeping all guests' needs in mind, and find 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 jelly beans. "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 kids to be creative, think of others, and just have fun.
Jan Udlock is a mom of five and freelance writer. She loves both jobs most of the time.