I know Valentine’s Day is nearly a month away, but if you’re anything like me – a procrastinator – and you want to plan a party for your homeschool group or a small group of friends, consider this your friendly reminder to start thinking about it now. I usually start thinking about it around February 7. I don’t recommend that approach.
We haven’t done a Valentine’s party in several years, but when my kids were younger, they used to love our annual gathering, which started with just a small group of friends the first year we homeschool. I was the official Valentine’s party planner for several years, so I’m happy to share my tips on how to plan a homeschool Valentine’s Day party.
Find a location
First, you want to overcome the biggest obstacle for most homeschool groups – find a place. We live in the Bible belt, so a church gym or fellowship hall was always our go-to place. Some other options to consider are:
- The meeting room at your local library
- A rec center
- A voting precinct/community meeting hall
- The home of the bravest homeschool mom in your group
Two of the most important factors to consider are tables and space. You’ll need a fair amount of both, depending on your group’s size.
Plan the agenda
In my experience, there are three highlights of a Valentine’s party: food, games, and bag decorating.
Food. For the food, you have a couple of options. You can either ask everyone to sign up for a dish or two and have a pot-luck style event or ask everyone to chip in on pizza. The easiest option is probably pizza.
In addition, ask moms to volunteer to bring iced, but undecorated cupcakes and/or cookies and sprinkles – because a cupcake decorating station is fun, y’all. Chips, candy, and other assorted hyperactivity-inducing treats are always well-received, too (by the kids, not necessarily their parents, but, hey, it’s a party).
photo credit stuart webster on flickr
Games. The kids in our homeschool group always enjoyed playing the kind of group games that are hard to play without a decent-sized group. They loved games like Red Rover and What Time Is It, Mr. Fox?
If you’ve got teens and tweens, they may enjoy some board games, but what they’ll probably appreciate most is just some space to hang out and talk. We were fortunate for a couple of years to have some space for the teens to hang out separately from the younger kids. They weren’t interested in exchanging Valentine’s or playing games, but no one complained about eating pizza and cupcakes while catching up with friends.
Bag decorating. The kids in our group always enjoyed decorating bags for the Valentine exchange. We’d ask everyone to bring a white or brown paper lunch sack for decorating. It would probably be just as easy for one or two moms to volunteer to bring bags for everyone.
If you start shopping early, you may be able to find a reasonable price on white or brown paper gift bags with handles. Those make excellent Valentine bags.
Ask the moms to sign up to bring things such as:
Be sure to ask the moms not to bring glitter or glitter glue. Trust me on this.
Each child will decorate his or her own bag for the Valentine exchange. For the preschool through elementary-aged kids, this was always one of the highlights of our Valentine parties. Just remind everyone to put their name on their bag.
The Valentine Exchange
You’ll want to have a pretty good idea how many kids will be attending before the party day so that all the kids can make sure they have enough Valentines to exchange. If you’re going to have a large number of children, it’s a good idea to split them into age groups for the Valentine exchange. It can get pricey to buy 60-70 Valentines for each child in your family to exchange.
Our group found that the easiest way to do the actual exchange was to write “my friend” in the “to” field and have each child sign their name in the “from” field. Before switching to that method, we used to gather a list of names prior to the party so that each of the kids could address their Valentine to a specific friend. That’s entirely up to you.
Once the bags are decorated, you can leave them on the tables so the kids can deliver their Valentines. However, we found the least confusing method to be to line the bags up around the perimeter of the room and let the kids go around, dropping their Valentines in each bag. This eliminated the confusion of kids trying to remember who they’d given a card to – but it would not be the best method if kids are going to be writing specific names on their cards.
Finally, you want to make sure to allow plenty of time for free play. As sick as we homeschool parents may get about hearing the socialization argument, our kids do enjoy socializing with their friends. So don’t make the mistake of hosting a super-structured Valentine’s Day party. Give the kids a chance to just run and play. The bonus to that is, it gives you a chance to just sit down and chat with other adults. You’re welcome.
Have you ever hosted a Valentine’s party for your homeschool group or a group of your kids’ friends? What planning tips or activity ideas would you add?
Get more activity ideas for your homeschool group in 52 Weeks of Homeschool Group Activities. This 22-page guide to planning activities for your homeschool group – whether it be a formal group of a few hundred or an informal group of a few families – offers an idea for each week of the year.
The guide also includes planning tips for events and field trips. I’m offering this resource as a free download to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers subscribers.
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