In 2023, consumers in the United States are expected to spend $25.9 billion on Valentine’s Day cards, flowers and gifts. This is up from last year's spending, and much of the increase comes from people wanting to show their love for their pets, friends and coworkers, classmates or teachers, proving that Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples in the heady throes of romance.
If you're looking for some sweet ideas to surprise your partner, your kids, a gal pal, grandparents or a teacher, read on for some easy and thoughtful ideas.
1. Create a “Sweet Tweets” jar for your child.
Decorate a Mason jar for your child. Fill it with slips of paper on which you have written adjectives or short sentences that describe traits you most appreciate, admire and love about them.
2. Send a singing telegram.
Shoot a video of your preschooler singing a little love ditty (such as: “I made this little valentine of red, white and blue. I made this little valentine especially for you!”) or other messages of appreciation. Email the file to grandparents or another relative, or a friend or teacher your kiddo is crazy about.
3. Shout out to your gal pals.
So-called “Galentine's Day” is on Feb. 13 and is a day for ladies celebrating ladies. Send your favorite gal pal a thoughtful gift from Seattle-area BIPOC-owned businesses.
4. Create homemade cards.
Bypass the usual mass-produced, cartoony cards and have your kid make some cute and funny cards for classmates, relatives or friends. Stick some stamps on them and take a trip to the mailbox.
5. Celebrate grandparents and loved ones living far away.
When video chats just aren't enough, consider one of these thoughtful gifts for relatives living far away, such as friendship lamps, interactive photo frames and more.
6. Hunt for Cupid’s treasure with the kids.
Challenge your kids to a scavenger hunt. Give them clues on a trail of paper-cutout hearts. One clue leads to the next until they find a Valentine’s Day surprise. Check out Wunder-Mom for free printables and ideas about scavenger-hunt clues.
7. Give your partner a gift they'll actually appreciate.
Candy and flowers are nice, but predictable. Surprise your partner with a thoughtful but practical gift to make their days a bit easier.
8. Give the kids a heart “attack.”
On each of the 13 nights leading up to Valentine’s Day, mom of four Alexis Sanchez posts a heart-shaped note on each of her kids’ doors after they go to bed. By Valentine’s Day, their doors are covered.
9. Make it snow.
Make a snow globe for your special someone out of a 16-ounce Mason jar. Hot-glue a small figurine and/or a miniature bottlebrush tree to the inside of the lid. Add red and silver glitter and foil heart confetti inside the jar and then fill it with water. Put hot glue around the inside of the lid and screw it on tight. Wrap a ribbon around the neck of the jar. Attach a tag with a love note that reads, “There’s snow one like you.”
10. Treat the fam to a “hearty” breakfast.
Surprise your kids with heart-shaped cinnamon rolls. Instead of rolling your flattened-out cinnamon roll dough into one single roll, roll each side toward the middle until they meet, forming a heart shape. Slice and bake. Serve juice out of dollar-store champagne flutes. Make a fruit salad by cutting up fruits such as apples, strawberries, bananas and watermelon.
11. Get those hearts pumping.
On a sheet of poster board, draw a grid of nine squares and write the name of a different exercise (e.g., planks, somersaults, jumping jacks, push-ups) in each of the boxes. Have the kids take turns tossing a beanbag (or another item) onto the grid to select an exercise. Then, have players roll the dice to see how many times they have to do the exercise on which the beanbag has landed.
Bonus: Think love is for the birds? You’re right!
Show your love for our feathered friends by making these adorable heart-shaped bird feeders — it’s a fun rainy-day craft that your little valentines will love.
What you’ll need:
Note: Store extra bird feeders in a dry, cool place to prevent mold from developing.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in January 2020, and updated in January 2023.