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These are some of our favorite Valentine’s Day traditions that make the day special for kids! With these free and budget-friendly ideas, the holiday will not break the bank, but your kids will never forget how loved they are! Check out our other Valentine’s Day posts here.

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I love Valentine’s Day! I love how cheesy and lovey-dovey it is. Even when I was single, my mom always made it fun and special. I looked forward to the red and pink surprises I would wake up to as a child, and the red and pink care packages she would send me in college.

I wanted to create the same magic for my kids.

But First, Why Valentine’s Day Matters

Valentine’s Day might seem like just a Hallmark holiday, but it has made a big impact on my family. In my second year at college, I was really missing my dad. (He had passed away almost 2 years previous. Grief is hard and weird y’all.) I was happily engaged and school was going well, and wedding planning was stressful but still manageable, but I was just sad! I just wanted a hug and my traditional pink carnation from my daddy.

One day after class, I went to check the mail and there was a small package! Packages are the best, am I right or am I right? I looked at who had sent it and immediately knew, from all the pink and red heart stickers plastered to the outside, that it was from my mom. I hurried to my room to rip into it and out spilled a whole package of red heart-shaped suckers, and I promptly bawled. I had always, always loved red heart suckers and gotten at least one for every Valentine’s Day.

I immediately thought of a story my mom would tell me almost every time I asked her for a bedtime story! In the story, I would ask my mom for a red heart sucker. So my mom would travel all over town, looking in every store that would have them, but they were all out. Returning home defeated, and with a crushed little girl, we would open the door and there was my daddy in the living room, with all the red heart suckers in the city.

That Valentine package was just a small sign that my mom knew I needed a pick-me-up and was reminding me of her love from afar.

Easy Valentine’s Day Traditions to Make it Special

Filling Love Buckets

Valentine's Day Ideas for Kids

Another year, when my oldest was probably about 2, we had been reading (every. single. night.) the bucket story. (This is a sweet story about how to make someone smile by filling their bucket. It’s seriously darling, and I highly recommend it).

We decided to send a bucket full of pink, red, and heart-shaped treats to people who filled our buckets. I found the cutest heart buckets at Target (dollar spot is life), we filled them to the brim with sugary love, made a handmade Valentine card with my daughter’s footprints, and wrote down reasons why they filled our buckets.

My aunt called a few days later saying that our love bucket had meant the world to my Grandma! She had been having a rough time feeling old and obsolete, and reading how she helped to fill up our buckets filled hers right up as well. I learned it’s worth the time to make others feel special. This is an easy service idea that you can do for (or with) your kids!

Make it Pink

Every year we have pink food! I generally make pink pancakes, because those are easy, and I’m a mom, and easy food is life. We have strawberry milk, strawberries, or raspberries, or cherries–you get the idea. My kids look forward to it every year and know that our cuisine will be pink or heart-themed. I’m talking heart-shaped pizza with pink dyed dough. It’s silly but so much fun.

We also buy the roll of Pillsbury cookie dough with the heart in the middle. They’re delicious, time-saving, and still so fun. If you are the “make everything from scratch” mom, more power to you!

Some years we don’t dye all the things because mom life is busy and mom/student life is even busier. This year we might order a heart shaped pizza (check your favorite pizzeria, a lot of them do fun heart shaped pizzas for V-day!!), or have spaghetti (red sauce) or something like that. 

When my husband and I were dating, I made his favorite soup and biscuits, but I colored it all pink! Much to his chagrin, the only pink food coloring I had was bright neon pink. He ate it while rolling his eyes at me lovingly. Now he knows that we always have pink food and the eye rolls are less frequent. 

Spread Some Love

Valentine's Day Ideas for Kids

My friend has a super fun tradition of heart attacking her kids’ door while they are sleeping. Every night leading up to Valentine’s, starting on February first, she tapes up one or two hearts on their door with something she loves about them, or something they did nice that day that she noticed. I love that and have determined that we will be adopting that tradition this year.

We also make Valentines for each other and our friends. My kids are always thinking of special things they could draw, or special stickers they could add to make sure the recipients of their Valentine’s creations feel the love. I’ve learned that kids are pretty cool and thoughtful. (I have a hard time with large messes, especially craft messes…glitter is my nemesis, but I love how creative and genuine my kids are with their Valentine messages. Sometimes the mess is worth it.)

Pink and Red “Presents”

Valentine's Day Ideas for Kids

We also get pink or red gifts!  I use the words gifts and presents loosely. We do not get large, over-the-top gifts.

One year, I got my daughter a Barbie movie that had lots of pink on the cover, and I got my son a red ball. Or one year, they got a pink book. Another year, my daughter got one of her favorite My Little Ponies, which happened to be pink. It is so fun!

I make it a point to not spend a ton on these little gifts. I don’t want them to think they get to make a gift list for every holiday. I find little things from the Target dollar spot. A lot of times they have fun books, or puzzles or something. As long as it is pink or red and something they will like, it fits the bill!

We also always have red heart-shaped suckers, because nostalgia. I scour the clearance section and Amazon deals (check out our deals page for the best ones!), the dollar store etc. Seriously, we don’t spend a ton, we just want to make it fun. 

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are a fun tradition that kids love! Make clues to send them around the house, or if you’re really creative, you can do one around town with them! You can have a prize or one of the cute red or pink presents waiting for them at the end. Make sure to include something you love about them on some (or all!) of the clues.

Reading Books About Love

There are so many children’s books that you could read with your kids, but make it a tradition to read a special book on Valentine’s Day! You can choose just one or fill your evening with reading books about love. Some of our favorites are:

-Guess How Much I Love You

-I Love You to the Moon

-Love You Forever

I love holidays; I love making them fun and something that my kids look forward to. It doesn’t need to be complicated or hard to make it special for those you love.

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