Sweet Ideas for Valentine’s Day Parties | Kitchen Explorers | PBS Food

Sweet Ideas for Valentine’s Day Parties

In my mommy imagination, Solomon, Celia and I sit around our craft table with lacy doilies, red paper, scissors, glitter, and glue, making heartfelt Valentine’s Day cards for their classmates. And then reality strikes (how many kids in each class?) and with a heavy sigh, I usually buy the pre-made boxed cards the kids wanted to begin with, hoping that at least they’ll spell their classmates’ names correctly on the “To” lines.

Thankfully, some inventiveness is always appreciated at the class Valentine’s Day parties. Parent volunteers usually come up with several craft or activity “stations” that will engage kids long enough to pass the time their weary teachers have delegated. (I always imagine the teachers laughing on the inside, as they watch 4 or 5 of us exhaust ourselves trying to fill just one hour in the classroom!).

For a successful classroom party, I suggest at least 4 stations so the kids can rotate in manageable groups. At least 2 stations can involve hands-on crafts and the others can be games or other activities. I also recommend having parent-volunteers bring some snacks and drinks (at least some of which are healthy), some festive music, themed decorations, if possible, and having at least 4 volunteers on site–more if possible.

Heart-Shaped Sandwiches: Have kids make sandwiches on thin-sliced bread with strawberry jelly or strawberry cream cheese, or use smoked salmon spread and sliced, peeled cucumbers. Then they can cut the sandwiches into heart shapes with cookie cutters and enjoy them with pink lemonade.

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels:  Ingredients: 36 pretzel rods, 3/4 lb white or milk chocolate, 1/4 lb different colored chocolate (optional), red sprinkles.

Cover a baking sheet with wax paper.  Melt ¾ lb white or milk chocolate in a microwave on 50% power for one minute.  Stir.  Heat again for one minute at 50% power and stir.  Repeat till the chocolate is melted.   Put chocolate into tall narrow container and dip pretzel rods.  Let the excess drip back into the container, then lay the pretzels on the wax paper.  Let them cool for a couple minutes.  Roll the pretzels in colored jimmies or drizzle with another color of melted chocolate.  “Chocolate Melts” at craft or baking stores are the easiest to work with.  Let pretzels cool on wax paper in refrigerator for 15 minutes or overnight at room temperature. 

Other holiday-appropriate snack options include heart-shaped brownies or cookies, pomegranate juice coolers with lime and seltzer, grapes or cheese cubes with heart-adorned toothpicks, or vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt with sliced strawberries, whipped cream, and heart-shaped sprinkles.

Have a Heart:
Kids can show they have a heart by making Valentine’s Day cards for nursing home residents or children in a homeless shelter or hospital. Heart-shaped stamps and markers work well for this, along with the supplies mentioned in my first-paragraph fantasy, above. Family Love Coupons: kids can make “heartfelt” coupons for their parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. such as those available at http://www.activitiesforkids.com/holiday/valentine3b.htm, or http://familycrafts.about.com/od/coupons/a/couponbw.htm.

Love Your Heart:
Get the kids active with some games that are good for their hearts: Create a checklist of physical activities, like jumping jacks, sit ups, squats, lunges, crab walk, toe-touches, etc., and ask the kids to do at least 10 of each and give themselves a heart sticker when they’ve completed each exercise.

What classroom tricks to you have up your sleeve to pull off a successful party? Please share your comments and ideas below!

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