Everyone loves to be loved, as the saying goes. And Valentines Day involves expressions of love in all forms. Many children give Valentines gifts to the most important people in their lives - their parents, friends, teachers and siblings. And sometimes schools use the holiday to teach about relationships (or snail mail!). So whatever one's feelings are about the commercialization of love, children will know this is happening. After all, Valentine's Day means...candy!
Here are some ideas of how to celebrate Valentine's Day with kids, in Brooklyn, NY.
But first, a word of caution. Valentines Day can be a brutal popularity contest for children. It is important to be sensitive to possible feelings of rejection, especially among classmates, according to Alvin Poussaint, M.D.; an internationally known psychiatrist, and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. So, be ready to listen to tender feelings.
1. Make Valentine Gifts at Home
It's fun to make Valentine's Day cards at home from simple materials: construction paper, glue, yarn, crayons, and basic art supplies. These materials are cheapest at such big box stores in Brooklyn as Staples on Fourth Avenue in Gowanus, or Toys-R-Us in Kings Plaza in Flatbush.
Stores such as Park Slope's Little Things also carry a good selection of fun Valentine's craft kits.
Or, just look for what can be made out of what's already in the closet!
2. Make Valentine's Day Gifts for Kids in Shelters
Make Valentine’s Day a family community service opportunity. For instance, parents might help children create homemade Valentine's cards and loot bags to bring to a local women's shelter for homeless women and children. If anyone needs a little love, it’s people who’ve lost their homes and livelihoods.
For details on what, when and where you might make a Valentine's Day donation to a local shelter,contact:
- New York City Homeless Services
- NYC Housing and Urban Development office responsible for family shelters
- Safe Horizon, the largest victim's service organization in the US.
Snuggle up with little ones and have a good old-fashioned read.
Check this list of ten books with Valentine's Day themes to share with young children and early readers.
4. Food Trip: Go See How Chocolate is Made
Brooklyn has sprouted several wonderful craft chocolatiers in recent years. Several have open kitchens, so children can catch a glimpse of how chocolate is made. And, the smells will delight them!
These shops include the famous Jacques Torres chocolate emporium in DUMBO, Nunu's Chocolates on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, and the Cocoa Bar in Park Slope. Where to Find Brooklyn's Homemade Chocolate Shops.
And then, go home, have a chocolate nibble, and read the wonderful Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl.
Take a trip to an old fashioned food specialty store, Choc-o-Lot Plus in Bay Ridge. It's a classic old Brooklyn shop. This modest store has sold chocolate baking supplies for over a decade. You won't find high-end imported baking chocolate, but if you ask for a rabbit or fish mold, you'll likely find it here.
- Address: 7911 5th Avenue at 79th Street
- Neighborhood: Bay Ridge
- Phone: (718) 748-2100
- Subway: N or R to 86th Street
- Official website: www.chocohlotplus.com
Adventuresome souls might attempt to make homemade candy, or candied apples for Valentine's Day. Excellent equipment for the kitchen, along with toppings and decorative items can be found a A Cook's Companion.
- Address: 197 Atlantic Avenue
- Phone: (718) 852-6901
- Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, to Borough Hall
Make it a party! There are lots of ways to have a Valentine's Day party. You can buy decorative necessities for a Valentine’s Day party at Brooklyn's Atlantic Mall.
Need ideas? Get some ideas for kids Valentine's Day parties online.
Possibly Brooklyn's most remarkable toy store, the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company is a funny shop that camouflages an after school reading support program and various community cultural events. The shop itself is hilarious, especially for adults who wish they had real super powers. Children will find this a cool, imaginative alternative family outing on Valentine's Day or weekend, especially if they don't go for frilly pink Valentine's Day stuff. What does this store sell? We don't want to spoil the fun: go see for yourself.
Address: 372 5th Avenue in Park Slope
Nearest Subway: F train to 9th Street, N or R to Union Street
Telephone: (718) 499-9884
9. Make Dinner at Home, but Eat Dessert First!
If anything will delight the children—and make a memorable Valentine's Day— it will be a reversal of the normal order of things at dinner time. Eat dessert first!
Happy Valentine's Day!