Heart-Made at Home for Valentine's Day

If my gift to my nieces and nephews goes as planned, they'll open treat-filled boxes from me on Sunday, February 14. This past Thursday night ran late as I churned up batches of delicious, iced sugar cookies and warm chunky, chocolate chip ones. I spent hours carefully manipulating the cookie batter into shapes and painting the freshly baked cookies with royal frosting in bright reds and pinks. On Friday morning, I raced my packages to FedEx to ensure they'd arrive on my family's doorsteps in Washington DC, Houston, Texas, and Triangle, Virginia, just in time for Valentine's Day.


My Valentine's Day Cookies (not bad for a first try!)

My Homemade Valentine's Day Treats

To make my treat boxes, I found the cutest pink containers stamped with rainbows and filled them with fruit loop-flavored popcorn, iced sugar cookies, cards and heart shaped chocolate chip cookies. I hope they'll be a special, sweet gift for my family. My brother and his wife have five children and my sister and her husband have four. I suppose I could've ordered gifts for them on the internet (which would've taken for-ever), but I'd rather know that they enjoyed something that I made from the heart, with my two hands and a whole lotta love. Honestly, it would've taken me more time to select gifts on the internet. Speaking of selecting gifts ... keep reading below. For me, homemade is heart-made.


Store Bought Gift or Home-Made Gift


If you purchased a store-bought gift this Valentine's Day, I don't intend to imply that there's something wrong with it. Who doesn't love a nice gift? Sure, Valentine's Day is a commercial holiday, but it's still a fun opportunity to commemorate with a sincere expression of your affection and not with just some - thing. We all tend to blow money on "things." We often feel like we have to buy something, which turns out to be just any random gift. If you find yourself searching for hours to select a gift, chances are it's a random something versus if you know your valentine so well that you already had the perfect gift in mind. If, looking back on it now, your store-bought gift is in fact random, you can still make your gift more meaningful by writing a special poem (or borrow one from a book!), song lyric or heartfelt message on a card or think of another way to personalize the day.

  • Create a special music playlist to listen to at breakfast or dinner.

  • Deliver morning coffee with a long hug and a single rose.

  • Spend a marathon day together with cocoa, movies and games.

Valentine's Day is a good day to wear your heart on your sleeve. Let's bring some fun, laughter, romance and a little tug on the heart strings. No plans?


Five Heart-Made, Last Minute Valentine's Day Activities


Holidays aren't just about material gifts. Spending time together is the greatest gift. Here are five last minute valentine's day gift ideas (which are all activities!):

  1. Make a late night, or early morning, Target run for cookie ingredients. If they're out of cookie cutters, you can still make cookies by folding in red and pink M&Ms or other candy. You can also fill mason jars with red licorice or jellybeans and tie them with a red or pink bow. Set a start time and corral your family or housemates to join you.

  2. Select a recipe that you can cook together for dinner. Grab your ingredients, and some candles and festive paper and pens from a craft store. Listen to your favorite music or watch a rom-com while taking turns stirring the pot. You're never too old to make each other paper valentines.

  3. Start family board game night with an arts and crafts project. Cut white and pink strips of paper and have everyone in the household write three kind wishes and compliments to each other person in the house. Read them aloud before you play. (You can also do the craft part over a Zoom call.)

  4. Invite your sweetie to a wine tasting. Pop open a selection of three to four bottles of wine, carve up some charcuterie, and tell your Google mini to play some big band music or slow jams.

  5. Last but not least, give a gift to yourself: take an hour out of the day for quiet reflection about all of the people in your life, here now or passed on, who have loved and nurtured you. Think about how their love, generosity and kindness impacted your life. Think of at least one thing you can do to pay it forward and spread more of that energy into the world. If there's anyone you haven't thanked, or who may not know how much you appreciate them, jot a note to yourself to tell them so this week.


The Very Best Valentine's Day Gift of All


The best Valentine's gift of all is the fact that there's a you, and there's a me, and there's a here and now. The gift of having family or friends that we enjoy and care about, and who reciprocate - in and of itself, is the very best valentine's day gift of all.


Now for the cookie recipe . . .


The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe on the Internet, Page 1


It's the night before Valentine's Day so there's no time to scroll through dozens of recipes. I've already tried this one, and it has my stamp of approval! You can find the recipe here Sally's Baking Addiction.


Two more cents from me:

  1. The recipe calls for rolling the dough out before refrigerating it. You then chill the dough before using the cookie cutters. Be sure to follow each step exactly as she states. It's easy!

  2. My addition to this recipe: add 1 1/2 teaspoon of lemon or maple extract to enhance the flavor.

I know many people say that Valentine's Day is just another commercial holiday, but I think it's a fun day and a perfect excuse to cozy up to family and friends. How can that be a bad thing?

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