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Valentine's Day ideas for family fun

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Lovely family traditions

Start a new tradition with your kids with these Valentine's Day ideas for family fun. When I was a little girl, my father used to buy small trinkets and leave them by our breakfasts on Valentine's Day morning. I still have a small silver ring he gave me one year and I'll never throw it out.

Girl Sitting on Mother's LapI loved how my father made Valentine's Day about the whole family, about all the people he loved. Of course, he gave an extra nice gift to my mother, but Valentine's Day wasn't the exclusive domain of romantic love. I've tried to continue that feeling in my own family all these years later. Apparently I've succeeded - Sunshine declared it her "favorite" holiday at the dinner table last night and insisted we plan what we will do together as a family that day.

Somewhere among childhood, when store bought valentines for the whole class are the norm, the emergence of certain affectionate feelings for others in adolescence, and full-blown romance in adulthood, the fun of Valentine's day as a family can get lost amid commercial elements of the day. A family Valentine's Day doesn't take any extravagance at all. It just takes what you already have: lots of love and a little inspiration.

Do something as a family

Valentine's Day is on a Saturday this year, and that makes it a perfect day to plan a family activity. Whether an old favorite or new to you, visit a museum, go to the park, take a hike, or find some other family-focused event. I bet you will notice more smiles than usual, and lots of people wearing red.

Make a nice meal

Making a nice meal for the whole family can be a great way to celebrate the day as a family, and it doesn't have to be dinner. One friend likes to make a fresh fruit salad and cranberry muffins every Valentine's day for breakfast, while another makes special lunches. The kids can help make a nice dessert for the occasion, too. If your special meal is dinner, don't forget that mom and dad can still have some quiet romantic time after the kids go to bed....maybe you two can save your dessert for then.

Give lots of hugs and kisses

I'm talking the real kind, not the chocolate kind, though those are tasty. And while my adolescent son might bristle at too many hugs (read: any hugs), he knows it's coming. We're already a huggy kind of a family, and Valentine's Day just brings it to a higher level.

Keeping the focus on the family on Valentine's Day keeps the focus on fun and love, no matter what you do. And while gifts aren't necessary, that little note or trinket you give your daughter or son may be something they keep forever as a reminder of how much you loved them. I can't think of a better Valentine's Day message than that.

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