Fun Valentines Day Activity for Groups

by Dianne McLean

One of the most popular activities for many years when I ran our local homeschool group was our Valentine's Day party. It was not only a fun annual event, but it got us a lot of publicity for our group.

What we did was first reserve space - a pizza parlor with games and big tables for the kids to spread out was our choice. Doing this in the middle of the day meant that we pretty much had the place to ourselves as the schools were in session. We also negotiated discounts with the owner or manager for family pizza deals, game tokens, and unlimited salad and beverages.

Next, we sent out an invitation to everyone in the group to have their children participate in a Valentine's Mailbox competition. There were specific rules, which I will discuss below.

After we invited the families, we then invited 3-5 people from our community to be judges for the contest. We tried to find people who could also contribute prizes - for example, the manager of our local WalMart, who donated some gift cards; the pizza parlor owner who gave us our discounts; and maybe the manager of a local sporting goods store. Whatever you are inspired to do works great. We also invited our local childrens librarian - she loved to do this every year! And then of course we invited the newspaper to come and take photos of the event. They do like to have local events featured, and if you also can get one of the major newspaper personnel to judge, you might even get on the front page!

We posted an invite in the newspaper for homeschooling families to join us - there are always new families who may not know of your group yet. Sometimes the newspaper ran it as a short article, and sometimes they just placed it on the non profit or clubs and organizations page.

Another activity associated with this event was our cookie exchange.  If you don't have time to organize a contest for Valentines mailboxes, a cookie exchange is a really fun way to just get together and enjoy the day.

Each family brought their cookies and all were displayed in a row on a long table. As the children went down the line, they could choose as many cookies for their family to take home that coordinated with the number they brought. For example, if a family brought 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies, they could choose 2 dozen in any assortment from the cookie "buffet". Of course to accommodate visitors, some of our more willing and affluent families always provided more cookies than they were going to take (and our judges and hosts were happy with this too!)

We simply got some red or pink paper, and printed out certificates with each category. As the winners were announced, we wrote their names on the certificates so they could pose for their photo and take the certificate home that day.

The rules for the contest were simple:

The Valentines mailbox had to start with a cardboard shoebox. They could add anything they wanted to the shoebox, even additional shoeboxes, and turn the shoebox into anything that fit any of the category suggestions.

There also had to be a slot or opening somewhere on the finished piece for people to deposit valentines (so it was a decorated and functioning mailbox). Finally, the child or children had to design it and construct it. We sure got some cool entries over the years! Some kids decorated them with candy hearts and tin foil, while others turned them into works of art. We had the "love boat", a magic treehouse theme, and so many more. To keep it from intimidating children, we did break up the judging into three age groups, 0-8, 7-12, and 10-16 (some kids wanted to compete with either an older or younger group based on ability).

What do you think? Is this something that your group might be interested in doing?  How would you spin this to fit your group's needs?  Answer below in the comment section, we would love to hear your thoughts!!

Some of the photos from our events:

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