valentine's day - cheese board knife set-cropped

When it comes to birthdays, anniversaries, and other personal “holidays,” if they fall in the middle of the week, we tend to celebrate them the weekend after or sometimes even the one before. It’s tough, after all, to spend a Tuesday evening out on the town when you have work, kids, and other familial obligations the next morning. That’s especially so for those who don’t live in big city centres or have grandparents nearby for babysitting. When it comes to an event like Valentine’s Day, however, it’s all about celebrating on February 14. And this year, that falls on a Friday.

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OK, sure, some couples might exchange a card and flowers, maybe get a sitter and go for a fancy dinner in the city that evening or Saturday night. Nonetheless, it’s still important to make the actual day and night special, even if you have to work around those extra-curricular activities, late work meetings, helping the kids with their homework, and daily chores.

Here are some ideas on how parents can celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, and include the kids in the fun.

Pre-arrange Valentine’s Day dinner

Don’t have making dinner on your mind when you get home—figure out dinner ahead of time, whether it means throwing something in the slow cooker or Instant Pot in the morning so it’s ready when you get home, or treating yourself to take-out so neither parent has to worry about cooking or the clean-up afterwards. Buy a nice roast and slow cook it with vegetables, potatoes, and delicious spices, then pair it perfectly with a glass of red wine (or two). Make sure to serve the kids their water or juice in a fancy glass, too, so they don’t feel left out. (Throw a strawberry into their water to make it even fancier.) Or let them indulge in soda—just for tonight. If the kids are fussy eaters, make a batch of mac and cheese on Wednesday night that you can effortlessly reheat, and valentine's day - hamilton beach convection toaster oventhat they’re sure to love.

Another idea: prep for a special homemade pizza night. Make or buy the dough ahead of time, then use a heart-shaped cookie cutter on the dough, add favourite toppings, and bake personal-sized, heart-shaped pizzas pies in a convection toaster oven.

Want to go the extra mile? Start the day off right by surprising the kids and your significant other by cutting slices of bread into the shape of hearts, and the letters “I” and “U” and present them with bacon and eggs, jam, or peanut butter. (I’ve surprised my son before by doing this with his school lunches, and it’s always a hit.)

Bake up a delicious dessert and snacks for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is, in part, about indulging in delicious sweet treats. Have fun with dessert by baking a cake with the kids, or making homemade chocolate. Or, just make and refrigerate a few chocolate-covered strawberries the night before to snack on after dinner. (Make sure to hide some so the parents can enjoy them with wine after the kids have gone to bed.)

Sometimes, all it takes is a simple snack spread to make a night seem festive. Serve up some crackers and cheese or charcuterie as a treat the whole family can enjoy. Or go all out by making some pub fare in an air fryer and serving it up for movie night in the living room with the whole family.

Make Valentine’s Day crafts with the kids

Involve the kids in Valentine’s Day fun by making crafts with them. Do it all together, or take turns designing items in secret that the kids can present to each parent as a surprise. Valentine’s Day, after all, is to celebrate love. And that includes the love you have for your valentine's day - corkboardkids and their love for you just as much as it does your love for one another. Grab a cork bulletin board, for example and create a family display you can hang on the wall with artwork, or even a favourite selection of tiny photos you can print from an instant camera/printer.

Set up a fun, Valentine’s Day-themed family game night 

Dust off one of the board games that has been tucked away in the closet and set up family game night with the kids: winner gets a special box of Valentine’s Day chocolates. My 8-year-old has started to really take to chess. It’s a great game that you can teach your kids how to play (if they don’t know already) then take turns and create a family tournament. Winner gets a prize, like an extra Valentine’s Day treat.

Want something more active? Have a dance party with a video game like Just Dance 2020 (I prefer the Xbox One version if you have the Kinect on hand). Or sit back and enjoy a family video game. One of the favourites in our household is The Jackbox Party Pack, including the new 6th edition, which you can get for consoles like the Nintendo Switch. Connect it to the TV then use your smartphones or tablets to play. Try the Trivia Murder Party game which is great for older kids and will provide tons of laughs and encourage friendly competition (and maybe a bit of gloating!)

valentine's day - the princess bride dvdHave a Valentine’s Day movie night in

Before the kids are ready to get tucked into bed, celebrate by watching a PG romantic flick like The Princess Bride (a true classic!) or binge-watch a few episodes of a family-friendly, love-filled series like Fuller House on Netflix. If you don’t yet have a smart TV so you can access Netflix on the big screen for the whole family, grab an affordable streaming stick like the Roku Streaming Stick+ or the new Amazon Fire TV Cube, which supports 4K Ultra HD resolution (with compatible content and a subscription) as well as Alexa voice control. Once the kids are in bed, curl up on the couch for your own choice of romantic film or TV series, like This Is Us or Love, Actually. Or maybe just catch up on a new favourite series.

“Travel” to another destination

OK, so you might only be in your living room or basement, keeping warm from the frigid temperatures outside. You have a busy weekend schedule coming up, with lots of appointments and housework to do. valentine's day - noon vr headsetBut at least for a short time, you can digitally transport yourself to an exotic location, and enjoy a quick escape from reality with a VR headset. Pop one on, and play a video of a tropical beach, or underwater scene that will take you back to your last sunny vacation. Hold hands and pretend you’re sipping margaritas on the beach, or indulging in a five-course meal in Italy, enjoying all of the sights and sounds as if you were there. It will have to do for the time being. And it might just be a reminder that it’s time to book that next real vacation, and further celebrate your love.

Check out lots of gear to help make your mid-week Valentine’s Day celebration a success this year at Best Buy Online