Compiled by Alexi Wilbourn and Julie Bookman

Don’t get lost amid the flurry of conversation hearts, chocolate-coated strawberries and Valentine’s Day cards that whistle and sing. Find a unique way to say “I care about you” or “I love you” to those certain someones. We’ve rounded up some ideas.


Paper Love Bugs

Instead of a traditional card, write your Valentine’s Day wishes on the wings of this cute little guy.
Materials: Empty toilet paper tube; pink or red paper; scissors; glue; pipe cleaners; paint (pink or lavender); pen, marker, crayons or pencil.
Paint the empty tube to make the bug’s body.
Cut two large hearts from construction paper and attach these with tape or glue on either side of the body as wings.
Draw a face on the painted tube. Use two pipe cleaners for antennae. Try making them curly or accordion-style for more quirk.


A Sweet Read

Friends Forever by Beatrix Potter (Frederick Warne & Co., ages 3-5, $6.99)
Often, the best children’s books are the short and sweet ones that simply melt your heart. We love this wise and warm gem about friendship. There’s a valentine at the end – intended just for the young one on your lap.

Pink It Up!

Oh, the miles and smiles you can get out of a tiny bottle of red food coloring. For Valentine’s Day, pink up your breakfast: Add a couple of drops into plain or vanilla yogurt, or into the milk that will be poured into your child’s cereal bowl. Add a few drops into your pancake or waffle batter (and while you’re at it, try pouring them into heart shapes – and add strawberry syrup). What else can you give a pink tint? The oatmeal? The cream cheese for bagel or sandwich? Pink rice at dinner? Hmm, we’re not so sure about that!

A Heartfelt Surprise

Leaving an anonymous Valentine’s Day gift on someone’s doorstep is a centuries-old British tradition. Why not try it? Do you have a kind neighbor you might like to surprise? Or a family that’s special to your family? On February 13, help the kids decorate one or more bags. Fill bags with a few choice treats and trinkets – perhaps a single flower, a candle or small heart-shaped soaps. Consider including a poem. Then add a “Happy Valentine’s Day!” or “Just to say we like you!” message – but don’t sign it. (In Merry Olde England, the message would likely have been: “Good-morrow to you, Valentine.”)
This is an anonymous gift you will drop off on the recipient’s porch after dusk. Ring the doorbell, but only if you can scram before anyone sees you!
Avoid expense. Keep it sweet and simple. It’s the little things in life that count.


Bite-Size Hugs and Kisses Cookies

Store-bought sugar cookie mix
Pink food coloring
Red food coloring
Square fondant cutter
(about ½ inch)
Circle fondant cutter
(about ½ inch)
2 disposable frosting bags
2 couplers
2 rubber bands
2 size “3” tips
Step One: Make Cookies
Prepare dough and refrigerate according to recipe. Roll out and cut out squares and circles with the fondant cutters and bake according to the recipe. Let cool completely.
Note: When using store-bought cookie mix to make decorated cut-out cookies, be sure to follow the recipe on the box for “rolled” cookies – not “drop” cookies.
Step Two: Decorate
Tint some of the frosting red and some pink. Prepare two frosting bags with the couplers and size “3” tips. Fill one with red and one with pink; tie closed with rubber bands. Pipe “X” on the squares and “O” on the circles. Let dry overnight if packaging.
Step Three: Package Cookies
Package in any cute container you like!
*Recipe from Meaghan Mountford, author of ‘The Decorated Cookie’ blog and the new book, Sugarlicious: 50 Cute and Clever Treats for Every Occasion



Pretty Valentine Heart

Debra Baker Steinmann, a Northlake area mom of two daughters, has made these hearts over the years, ever since she made them as a leader with Girl Scout Troop 4711. She’s given them as valentines by adding a note on the back, and has also used a small tree branch as a centerpiece by attaching several hearts to it. All ages can have fun with this simple activity. Best: You may already have most of what you need.
Materials: Card stock paper; white glue; hole punch; 12-inch ribbon for hanger; glitter/sequins; colored paper; plastic flowers and other decorations.
Suggestion: Incorporate old photos or images clipped from glossy magazines.
Cut out valentine from card stock.
Punch hole
Use glue – and your imagination – to create a collage on your heart; let glue dry. String ribbon through hole.


Easy-Peasy Heart Garland

For about $2 at stores such as Walmart, you can buy a package of six “glittery hearts” in different sizes. (Or make them yourself using heavy paper and glitter.)
Materials: Glitter hearts (six to a package – buy two or more packages, depending on the desired length of garland); pretty ribbon such as a red or pink plaid pattern (two or more yards, depending on length).
Make two slits on either side of each heart – and on the upper part of each side.
String ribbon through the hearts, so the ribbon is behind each heart, then goes over each heart at the side to reach the next heart.
Ta-da! That’s all! Hang your garland(s) and enjoy!
Optional: Before making slits, cut/trim your hearts if you want to create less standard shapes (such as if you want to add skinny hearts).
Source: V and Co. (


OREO Truffles

Decorate these chocolate delights with pink and red sprinkles.
1 pkg. (8-oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. (16.6-oz.) OREO cookies, finely crushed
2 pkgs. (8 squares each) Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate, melted
Mix cream cheese and 3 cups cookie crumbs until well blended. (Tip: you can use a food processor to save yourself some work.)
Shape into 48 (1-inch) balls. Dip in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

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