Written by Carol Martin, Rainbows’ Finance Dept.
Romantic love is most often thought of when Valentine’s Day draws near, but why not expand that thought, and make the day a celebration of the bond that your family shares? There are many fun, creative and thrifty ways to make the occasion extra-special.
The Cosmosphere in Hutchinson is hosting a Pluto-Palooza at 7 p.m. on February 14. Older kiddos will love hearing about NASA’s latest mission to learn about the “giant heart” that appears on Pluto’s surface. You may attend in-person or via Skype.
If your kids love horses, the Derby Recreation Commission will take a trip to the Wichita Riding Academy on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 1-3:30 p.m. The cost is $23 and kids from 5-18 will learn to saddle up and ride.
Preschoolers may enjoy getting the scoop on the latest PBS show, “Pinkalicious and Peterrific.” Wichita Public Library will hold a free viewing party from 11 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, February 14, at the Westlink branch meeting room.
Fun at home
When the weather outside is frightful, stay in and make a family love song video. Appoint one person as the videographer, pick a fun and peppy song, wear silly clothes and dance ‘til you are breathless! If you’re brave, post it on social media so everyone can enjoy your antics.
If you have some tissue paper or felt laying around the house, your preschoolers could spend a cozy winter afternoon making cute and simple Valentine artwork for friends and family.
DIY birdfeeders make great gifts for your backyard feathered friends (or human ones!), and are easy for kiddos to assemble at home.
Serve a Valentine-themed breakfast with heart-shaped toast, waffles or pancakes. Add strawberry or cherry jelly to boost the fun. Several cereals have strawberries in them, which turns the milk in the bowl pink. Place a personalized greeting card at each chair, and hang red, pink and white streamers and balloons from the ceiling above the breakfast table.
When you send the kids off to school, pack a surprise in their lunch: a Little Debbie heart-shaped treat. They’ll be the hit of the cafeteria!
A special dessert is the highlight of a weeknight holiday meal. Instead of a high-calorie bomb, treat the family to a red velvet-strawberry trifle. Heart-shaped fruit skewers would also be a healthy and colorful addition to a celebratory dinner.
Kids with sensory difficulties would love a small hammock, Play-Doh, or mini trampoline.
Tickets to an upcoming movie or college basketball game mean another fun time is coming.
Give a classic Disney film like Lady & The Tramp, Beauty and the Beast or Wall-E.
Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day is Cool is not only a fun read, but the book contains a poster, stickers and cards.
Board games make for lively conversations and entertaining evenings. The best first game a kid ever had is Candyland. Sequence is a strategy card game and a best seller on Amazon. It is appropriate for ages seven and up. Catan, an adventure-based project, has a growing cult following and is perfect for kids who are eight or older. Families with teens might enjoy Pandemic, which uses cooperative play to stop the spread of diseases in the world. Instead of playing individually, you all win or lose.
Pay It Forward
Visit a fire or police station and drop off some cookies or doughnuts. You’ll all have a chance to thank them for their service to your community, and the kids may get a tour of the facility.
Check with the activity director of a retirement home to see if they need volunteers for a holiday activity. Have kids ask the residents to relate stories from their childhood.
Make care packages or “blessing bags” for the homeless. Into a resealable plastic bag, put trial-sized toothpaste and other hygiene items, non-perishable foods, such as granola bars or crackers, a pair of tube socks, knit gloves or mittens, a $5 bill or small gift card to a local store or restaurant, and an encouraging note. Keep these in your vehicle and have kids watch for opportunities.
Whatever you decide to do on Valentine’s Day, make sure all members of your family have a say and get involved. If you do pizza and a video, dress up for an evening out, or something in between, as long as you spend time together, sweet memories will be made.