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Whether you're hosting a party for a group of children or just looking for fun ways to celebrate with your own kids, this luncheon is sure to be a hit with girls and boys.
Construct a valentine tree centerpiece
Step 1: Go outside and look for a fallen branch that has lots of smaller branches on it (or you can buy one in a garden or craft store).
Step 2: Fill an empty coffee can with dirt or pebbles. Cut a hole in the lid big enough to fit the branch in. Then "plant" the tree in the coffee can.
Step 3: Have the kids cut out hearts from pink and red construction paper and punch a hole at the top of each heart.
Step 4: Let the kids decorate the hearts with crayons, markers, stickers or glitter glue. They can even address them as valentines to people they care about.
Step 5: Once the glue has dried, have the kids string red, pink, and white ribbon or yarn through the holes and tie them to the branches.
Variations: If you have more time and energy, you can spruce up your tree by:
- Spray painting the branches pink or red. Do this in a well-ventilated area and let the branches dry before you decorate the tree. You can also paint the branches with acrylic paint, but it's more tedious and takes more time.
- Covering the coffee container with red construction paper or felt. Adhere the material to the can with white craft glue.
Set the perfect table
- Purchase a red and white checkered tablecloth.
- Set the table with red, plastic utensils.
- Dress up some stuffed animals in red scarves and coats (made out of felt) and place them around the centerpiece.
Prepare a be-mine menu
If you have a small chalkboard, ask your kids to write the menu on it and place it near the table. What to serve? Here are some rosy ideas:
- Pizza Muffins: Spoon bottled spaghetti sauce over English muffin halves. Place a slice of provolone or mozzarella cheese cut into heart shapes with a cookie cutter over the sauce; place on a cookie sheet and bake in a 300 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese melts. Sprinkle with oregano and serve.
- Spaghetti with red sauce
- Bowls of cherry tomatoes
- A platter of boiled, peeled shrimp, garnished with slices of red pepper on a bed of red-leaf lettuce.
- Ginger ale served with frozen cranberry juice ice cubes, red straws, and red paper parasols
- Graham cracker dessert cards: These are edible cards the kids decorate themselves. Set out graham crackers, frosting in different colors (you can buy or make basic white frosting and then add a few drops of food coloring to make different colors), decorative candies such as red hots, red M&Ms, red shoestring licorice, and tubes for writing messages with frosting (you can purchase small tubes of frosting in the baking section of your store, too). Let the kids frost each graham cracker. The frosting will act as "cement" for adhering the decorations. To make this time even more fun, play love songs from the '50s and '60s (Beatles, Supremes, etc.) as background music.
Play message in a balloon
Write different tasks on small pieces of paper such as tell a joke, sing a song, stand on your head, etc. Insert the messages in red and pink balloons before blowing them up. Have everyone sit in a circle and give each person a balloon. Go around the circle, popping one at a time, and cheering each other on as each person performs their assigned task. (Since popped balloons are a choking hazard for toddlers, be sure to collect and discard them right away.)
Make a memento box
This is a wonderful gift, especially for a beloved family member like Grandma or a great-aunt. If you'd like your guests to do this craft, specify on the invitation that they need to bring a small, unfinished wooden box with a lid (available at craft stores); you can supply the rest. You'll need 2 small foam brushes, sandpaper, pink acrylic paint, scissors, white glue, a small plastic bowl, magazines that the kids can flip through to cut out pictures (make sure the images are small enough to fit on the box or lid), old valentines, valentine stickers.
Step 1: Have each child lightly sand her box and lid. Clean off the dust and, with a foam brush, paint the inside and outside of the box and lid with the pink paint. Let dry.
Step 2: Each child should figure out where she wants to place the images from magazines as well as the stickers and old valentines.
Step 3: Glue the images on the outside of the box and the lid. Tell the children to make sure the pictures are thoroughly glued down. If any pictures stick out above the edges of the box or lid, trim them off carefully.
Step 4: Squeeze some glue into the bowl. Using the other foam brush, cover all the images with glue. The glue will look opaque at first, but will dry clear. If the glue is too thick to spread evenly, mix in a little water. Allow the glue to dry for about 15 minutes and then "paint" the lid and box with another coat of glue. Let it dry overnight.
Step 5: Tell each child to fill the box with goodies before giving it as a gift. She can put in photos of herself, a valentine poem, some small heart-shaped soaps and chocolate, a red scented candle.
Create marble-rolled valentines
You can have your guests do this Jackson-Pollack-like activity, or you and your child can do it together before the party and use the valentines as invitations to the party or simply to mail to friends and relatives.
Step 1: Tape the edges of 8 1/2" x 11" construction paper to the inside of a gift box or a small, clean individual-sized pizza box.
Step 2: Carefully pour tempera paint into short paper condiment cups (one color per cup).
Step 3: Drop 1 or 2 marbles into each cup so they are submerged in paint. Using plastic spoons, retrieve 3 or 4 marbles from the paint cups and place them inside the box. Slowly tip box so that the marbles roll around. When paint is used up on each marble, put it back into the paint or try two more colors.
Step 4: Once the paint has dried, remove the paper from the box and cut it into heart shapes. Write inscriptions on the back and mail them off.
Step 5 (optional): Use pieces of the marble-rolled paper for envelopes. Completely unfold a store-bought envelope and trace its shape onto the painted construction paper. Cut the pattern out. Then refold the envelope, using the store-bought one as a guide. Glue the edges together and seal it with heart stickers.