Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine's Story & Party Ideas

Fun memories of a Valentine's Day Party... Valentine's Day Party Ideas

I will always remember the Valentine's Day party with fond memories and laughter; it was the last day my children and I were really together...surrounded in a circle of love with our friends and family.

D.Bear and Nora, this entry is dedicated to you, I love you all ways and always! xoxoxo Mommy xoxoxo


I can't say exactly how the idea to throw a party began. I had an idea to throw a family friendly Valentine's Day Party, to hang out and have fun. It just seemed the romantic nature of the holiday excluded a lot of people, so I wanted to throw a party for everyone. My sister Becky was leading a class at church, and she thought taking a break from studying to throw a party was a good idea. We were going to use the night as a ministry opportunity, passing out treat bags with Bible verses (I clipped out verses from Christian magazines and church bulletins) and candy inside. My friend Mary aka "DIY Diva!" looked forward to baking treats and decorating. My other friend is so good natured he could not say no..or maybe it was the lure of a potluck? Then we invited family and church members.

As I entered the room, I was greeted by a large banner that read "Happy Valentine's Day! The walls were decorated with paper Cupids, who shot love arrows with obvious bad aim--as the red, pink and white hearts were scattered all over the room, the walls and somehow landed on the cieling. My two teenage nieces fought over the stereo, playing booming dance music only to have a song cut short by "That's too loud!" and someone changing the tunes to soft jazz.

Mary the "DIY Diva!" had painstakingly decorated tiny heart cookies decorated with pastel icing and candy hearts or sprinkles, she put a basket of these delicious treats in the center of each table, perfectly placed under a matching doily. Another friend took over a folding table and set up an impromptu coffee bar, with Shirley Temple cocktails for the kids (who were quickly getting sugared up!!). For those seeking romance, I set up a "Kissing Booth". Sitting on top of a satin pillow was a plump green frog holding a red heart. If you squeezed his belly, he would kiss you--or you could just take a Hershey's kiss.

I was so excited when my children D.Bear and Nora entered the room with Grandpa, Grandma and their two cousins. My children were dressed up, my daughter wearing a pretty party dress with glittery sequins and my son a button down shirt with jeans. My teen niece was running around in what looked like a pair of pantyhose with a stretchy t-shirt. I couldn't help but to sigh in relief at my own children, and wonder how long it would last before they became teens and I no longer approved of what they wore.

My children even brought me a present--a beautiful pink cat made at the Build a Bear Factory dressed in capris with a ballerina style top. My son D.Bear said they put a heart inside the cat when stuffing it. This heart was supposed to be a symbol of my children, so when I hugged the cat it would be like hugging them. For a moment I was so touched that I could not speak, all I could do was wrap my kids in my arms, as tears welled in my eyes. The cat represents what I have always felt--that from the moment of conception, at the first spark of life, my children hold a place in my heart, and in my life, that special and set apart from anything else in this world.

Potluck is a big deal in my neck of the woods--the table sagged from the weight of savory dishes, all comfort food or home baked goodies. I brought rice casserole, a zesty mixture of three kinds of rice, spice, ground sausage, and vegetables in cream sauce. In the last 10 minutes of baking, I topped it with golden Cheddar cheese that bubbled and oozed down the sides of the pan. Rice casserole has its variations but the recipe has been in my family for generations, passed down by women working shoulder to shoulder, laughing and sharing secrets, as they simmered, stirred and tasted. I learned the recipe from my cousin that way and one day I will pass it down to my daughter. My sister Becky brought a spicy nacho dip, now the sugared up kids were gassy! And there was a slight problem with the blonde brownies--they were rock hard. The kids went outside and played hockey, using the brownies as a puck!

While everyone was together I thought it would be fun to snap some pictures. Not any pictures but Valentine's portraits! Mary the "DIY Diva!" and I went searching in thrift stores for backdrops and props, and came out with a real treasure-- flowers, googly heart antennae headbands, sparkly cupid wings and a red velvet swag that looked like it came out of an Old West saloon. My good natured friend posed with the antennae over his do-rag--hilarious because he is a tough biker looking sort of guy. We posed the girls with flowers and hearts, the teens striking crazy poses. My son D.Bear looked totally embarrassed but it could be worse.. I could make him pose at the "Kissing Booth"!

To top the night off, we threw a White Elephant party so everyone got a Valentine. What could be more romantic than a pair of deer antlers or a can of corned beef n hash? But there were some fun grabs in there too.. My parents have a soft spot for kids, and included some cute toys. But I won the best prize when my biker turned Valentine cupid with antennae headband friend presented me with a real strand of Monkey Beads. Monkey Beads are this fantastic Mardi Gras necklace with round beads and banana shaped beads, in between rubber monkeys that squeak when you squeeze them. I felt so stylin'!

It was a school night and getting late so I had to get the kids home, my parents agreed to drive them back. When I gave Nora and D.Bear a hug, I just assumed I would see them again soon... I loaded them up with a treat bag and made them promise to save it for later. I told Nora how beautiful she looked in her dress, the sparkly silver boots she pulled over her tights made her look like a real princess. I stood back to back with D.Bear, measuring how much he had grown, and knowing soon he would be taller than my 5'9. I always joked with D.Bear that one day I would sit in his lap, and he would rock me in a rocking chair and read all the stories we shared at bedtime. That day was fast approaching, my little boy was growing up so fast! I promised to take care of the stuffed cat, and crowned her with Monkey Beads. 

My parents loaded all the kids up in the car--the last I saw, they were sitting in the back seat, showing off what they won in the White Elephant. I waved Nora and D.Bear off, they were returning home to their father  who has custody. As the tail lights faded in the darkness, I never imagined that I would not see my children again for several months. Something made their father angry so now he was changing the schedule, and they would never really come home overnight visits. No holidays. No weekly phone calls. No summer visits. And then the weekly letters I wrote would be stopped--so all I have left is writing this blog. And hugging the stuffed cat to my heart, hoping somewhere my children receive the warmth of my arms, and hear my whispered prayers.

-- Daylen Swift, Feb. 2014

Valentine's Party Ideas:

*** Bible Verse Treat Bags
Need: Valentine's Treat Bags or Sandwich Bags
Clip Art- Bible Scripture, Prayers or Christian images. Can use from church bulletins or Christian magazines. You can also print verses from online sites. A Christian store may have Christian Valentine's cards, as an alternative.
Candy or Treats- Healthy snacks may include granola bars, clementines/mandarin oranges, fruit snacks, trail mix, gum
Grab Bag Items- Pencils, stickers, party favors, balloons, rubber balls, costume jewelry, small toys etc 

Top 10 Love Bible Verses for Valentine's Day:

*** Family Friendly "Kissing Booth"

Need: Table/Chair, Tablecloth, Stuffed Animal or Doll, Valentine's Decorations, String of Lights (optional), Streamers (optional), Helium Balloons (optional) Cardboard/Paint/Markers to make a sign, Hershey's kisses

Set Up: Decorate a Table with tablecloth, pillow, decorations etc. On table put a sign that says "Kissing Booth"
Put stuffed animal or doll in middle of table
Put basket of Hershey's Kisses next to object

If you really want to create suspense, put the table in a corner of the room and hang a curtain or set up a partition in front of it. Place "Kissing Booth" sign outside of curtain or partition. When the viewer pull it aside, they will be surprised!

*** Valentine's Potluck

You may consider a Valentine's theme of red, white, pink foods.
Go online for some great holiday recipes or festive desserts.

Valentine's Recipes at

*** Valentine's White Elephant Game

Need: Wrapping paper or newspaper, does not have to be fancy!
1 Die (Dice)
Gifts - Gag gifts, Gently used items you no longer need, Inexpensive gifts, Holiday themed gifts (candles, candy, decorations, lotion/soap etc). It is OKAY to wrap up weird, funny or strange gifts--makes the game more fun!

Set Up: 
Everyone sits in a circle. Put the gifts in the middle of the circle. 

In the first round, get the dice and agree on a number like all evens or all odds. The round begins when a player shakes the dice. When the player get the selected number, they take a gift from the center of the circle. If you want to mix things up, you can play for a few minute then change numbers. Once all the gifts are taken, you go to round two.

In round two, you set the time for 3 minutes. You agree on a number again. When you shake the dice and get that number, you get to steal a present from someone else. You keep going until the timer ends.

When stealing round is done, you can open and keep your presents. The fun part is seeing what you fought over..and what you won!

Beautiful Baby Doll- Be My Valentine

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