10 Fun Family Valentine’s Ideas

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10 Fun Family Valentine's Ideas

I know that Valentine’s Day is traditionally associated with chocolate, flowers, expensive dinners, and romance. But is that all lost when you have kids? Do you celebrate Valentine’s as a couple or a family? With Valentine’s Day right around the corner I thought I would share what our family does as well as other fun family Valentine’s ideas.

From Couples Valentine’s Ideas to Family Valentine’s Ideas

Valentine's Restaurant Dinner

Early on in our relationship my husband and I did the romantic dinner thing. But we soon realized that the overpriced, crowded restaurant, we can hear the conversation next to us and can’t focus on us vibe was not our thing. We decided that we would pick a fun new fancy recipe and cook dinner at home together instead. Fast forward to after having kids, it was much harder to find time for cooking fancy weeknight dinners. Instead, we would try do a date night on the weekend when we had someone to watch the kids. As our girls got older, we decided that we wanted to include them in our celebration and returned to cooking a special dinner at home … we still make plenty of time for date nights, thanks mom!

Fancy Family Valentine's Ideas

For the past few years we have cooked filet mignon, bacon wrapped asparagus, and loaded baked potatoes for our dinner. I know this isn’t wildly out of the ordinary, but we don’t do steak (let alone filet) often and who doesn’t love bacon?! The girls love it so much that they haven’t let us change the menu yet! 

Making homemade chocolate covered strawberries

We’ve also made and decorated chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert, a tradition I can thank COVID for! They are so much more fun to make at home AND you save a pretty penny, too!

As a dietitian mom, I firmly believe that the more traditions or fun memories we can make around the table, the more confident our kids will become. Not only will they be confident eaters that are able to listen mindfully to their bodies, but confident in relationships and communication. When you set the example for prioritizing family, you are demonstrating that relationships are important. Taking the time to cook shows your kids that nourishing the body is essential. It is also a great way to teach them important life skills. There are so many research-backed benefits of family meals I feel the need to share them with all of you!

Why are Family Dinners Such a Big Deal?

As I mentioned, family dinners are important for so many reasons! Let’s take a look at the benefits that are backed up by research:

1. Communication and Bonding: 

Sharing a meal provides an opportunity for family members to communicate and connect with each other. It’s a time to share thoughts, experiences, and emotions, fostering stronger family bonds. It can also help increase vocabulary, especially in younger kids. As a side note, I do encourage parents to keep conversations positive at the table. The last thing we want to do is have our kiddos upset and ruin their meal, or their ability to tune into their hunger and fullness levels.

2. Quality Time:

In today’s ever busy world, family dinners are a dedicated time for families to spend quality time together. This time together can contribute to a sense of unity and belonging, and it may be the most time we get with our kids daily! I also encourage this to be a screen-free time (unless it’s baseball season – kidding, not kidding!)

3. Nutritional Benefits:

Home-cooked meals tend to be more balanced and nutrient-dense than fast food or restaurant options, and cheaper, too! Family dinners allow parents to control the ingredients. This is especially important if you have any food allergies in the home like we do. Research studies have shown a decrease in sugar-sweetened beverages and fried foods, as well as an increase in fruits, vegetables, calcium-containing foods and protein.

4. Cultural and Family Traditions:

Family dinners can be a time to pass down cultural traditions, family recipes, and values. Sharing meals together reinforces a sense of identity and heritage. 

5. Social Skills

Regular family dinners provide an opportunity for children to develop social skills, including communication, manners, and the ability to listen and engage in conversations. It can also be a time for parents to model positive behavior. Don’t forget the bonus of teaching your kids to set the table and help clean up!

6. Emotional Well-Being:

Research suggests that regular family meals are associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety in children and adolescents. The emotional support provided during family dinners can contribute to a positive and supportive family environment. Hence why I mentioned earlier to focus on positive conversations at the table. This is not the time to discuss poor grades or behavior if we are trying to increase the emotional well-being of our kids.

7. Academic Performance:

Some studies suggest that children who have regular family dinners may perform better academically. The routine and structure of family dinners can positively impact a child’s development and educational success. (I am also a firm believer in routines and food schedules – but we will save that for another post!)

8. Healthy Eating Habits:

Family dinners can contribute to the development of healthy eating habits. Children who eat regular meals with their families are more likely to make nutritious food choices and have a positive relationship with food. If we are intentional about our conversations, our behavior, and model mindfulness, our children are likely to have lower risk of developing negative eating habits, such as eating disorders.

9. Decrease in High-Risk Behaviors:

Research has shown that family meals are correlated with following boundaries and expectations set by parents. Teens who have frequent family meals have decreased use of alcohol, drugs, nicotine products, and prescription drugs. They are also less likely to engage in other behaviors like stealing, violence and sexual activity.

I know that family dinners may not be feasible every day for every family given our jam-packed schedules. However, with planning and effort, having regular family meals (breakfast and lunch count, too!) can have long-lasting positive effects on family relationships and overall well-being. It’s not just about the food but the shared experiences and connections that come with sitting down together at the table. So don’t worry if you don’t have time for fancy dinners, any shared meal will also have benefits!

How Can I Implement More Family Meals?

You might be wondering what all this talk about family dinners has to do with family Valentine’s ideas. But if you are a family that struggles to find time to sit down at the table together regularly, Valentine’s Day is a perfect excuse to start making the time for it! We can’t change our habits completely overnight, but we can start taking small steps toward change. 

If this is you, I suggest starting by taking 1-2 days per week and scheduling in the family meal time. Plan this on the weekend when you have more time to look at the schedule for the upcoming week and decide which day(s) will work best for your family. Then you can include the kids in choosing what dinner(s) you will prepare so they can start to get excited for it. My kiddos are total foodies and just love to give their input on what goes into our weekly menu! 

Hopefully you will find that this gets easier over time and the more you do them, the more your family wants to have family meals! Check out my recipes for weeknight friendly (read: quick and easy) meals to help get you started. 

10 Fun Family Valentine’s Ideas

Now for the fun stuff! Here are our top ten family Valentine’s ideas – kid and husband approved!

  • Make a fancy dinner at home, complete with candles and dim lighting
  • Write cards to everyone in the family telling them why they are special to you
  • Play a board game around the table after dinner
  • Make a dessert bar with everyone’s favorite dessert or candy
  • Make placemats for each other (you can laminate them and use for following years, too!)
  • Turn on music during dinner
  • Get dressed up for dinner
  • Make and decorate chocolate covered strawberries
  • Have the kids plan the menu
  • Serve sparkling cider in fancy glasses

Here’s a fun printable version:

Family Valentine's Ideas

Please let me know what your favorite family Valentine’s ideas and traditions are in the comments. Or if you start the tradition this year, please let me know how it goes! 

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