14 loving tips for Valentine's gifts
7. Get techie with it
This is the perfect gift for parents from teens and college kids. "Offer to be mom's tech concierge," says Bellows. Teach her to text, or show her how to download music or movies. If she's wanted to investigate social networking, introduce her to Facebook and create (with her permission) a page for her so that she can catch up with her high school and college friends. Or, if you have a few bucks, do the old mixed tape one better and load up her MP3 player with a playlist of music you know she'll like.
8. Child labor
Sure, you're busy, but that doesn't mean you can't spend a little time making sure your parents know you love them. Make a book of coupons for your parents filled with jobs you promise to do for the week, month or year: things like shining dad's shoes, washing mom's car, watering the plants or even taking out the trash.
For the kids
9. Cooking up some love
Kids will remember the Valentine's Day they baked cookies with mom or dad. With little kids, opt for something simple, like heart-shaped cookies. With older children, consider cupcakes with more elaborate Valentine's Day decorations. Then turn off the TV one night and have family game time or story time. Get out the old favorites or create a few new ones.
10. Treasure of love
Kathy Peel, author of "The Busy Mom's Guide to a Happy, Organized Home," suggests hosting a treasure hunt. "Post clues (pictures, rhymes or words) to direct family members from one location to another until they find their treasure: a small Valentine's Day gift," she says.
11. Get crafty
Try a family craft project, says Stromer. "Nothing spells love more than a heart made out of balsa wood and hung on the front door," he says. Balsa is inexpensive, easy to work with (you can often use tools that you already have), and available at local craft stores. Paint it, let it dry and display it prominently, says Stromer.
12. Start the day with love
Celebrate with a Valentine's Day breakfast, says Bellows. For a lot of families, the morning routine is hectic. So take some time for a leisurely breakfast. Go for something traditional with a twist, like pancakes in heart shapes. Keep with the Valentine's theme by using lots of strawberry or cherry syrup and whipped cream. And focus on the foods they really love.
13. Work together
Take a few hours to work together as a family on a project geared to the abilities of the kids. Build -- or even just hang -- a bird house. You can find kits in craft stores, or if you're not handy, take the children to pick out a seed ball. Then, together, select a spot where it can be seen from indoors and hang it. Not only do you help foster local wildlife (and help creatures during the cold winter months), you and your family get to enjoy a little bit of nature in your own backyard.
Another idea is to have the family make kites together. A little heavy paper or light cloth, some balsa wood (available at craft stores), string and poster paints can add up to a pretty fantastic kite. (Check Internet sites or children's craft books at the library if you need examples or instructions.) See who can design the prettiest, fastest, most colorful or most unusual kite. You can display them in the kids' rooms or around the house. Then on the first sunny, windy day, try them out.
For any situation
14. Be a friend.
Know someone who's alone? Set aside some time to share a meal, go on an outing, swap recipes or just gossip. It can cost virtually nothing, and you'll likely gain a lot more than you give.