Six No-Recipe Ways to Show Your Love


I have to admit, I’m a sucker for all holidays. Not that I need permission to geek out on a cleverly-thematic gift basket, but there’s something about a designated day that gives me the green light to go all out. However, this year is a little different; for the first time in eight years, I’m a full-time working mama. So, as much as I pine to waste hours surfing Pinterest for an adorable DIY Valentine I can proudly post on Facebook as a symbol of my motherly awesomeness, it just ain’t gonna happen! Going back to work has forced me to turn in my Super Mom cape and lower my expectations … just a smidge. I still cannot let myself settle for a heart-shaped box filled with candy that may or may not taste like chocolate-covered packing peanuts. When it comes to my kids, I enjoy making them smile; and, it’s important to me that they feel special. Because I can no longer spend hours or days prepping, I am falling back on some of the cornerstone pieces of previous Valentine extravaganzas. At our house, these tried-and-true go-to’s are annual traditions on the big V-Day. And, best yet, they are cheap, easy-to-make, and don’t even require a recipe!

Will you “brie” mine? Presentation is key, and with this Valentine’s Day landing on a Sunday, give your family the gift of graze and make your own Valentine’s Day charcuterie board (sans board if you’d like… the kitchen table works just fine). Use all sorts of red, pink, and white faves like candies, cinnamon bears, red apple slices, cheese (cut into hearts with cookie cutters, of course), pepperoni bites or salami slices, crackers, red baby tomatoes, red pepper slices, radishes, strawberries and cherries, red raspberries and grapes, dried cranberries, salsas with chips, jams and biscuits or mini PB&J sandwiches (because they taste better when they are cute), strawberry-iced Pop-Tart bites, or strawberry mini muffins. The list goes on and on, and your little loves will be in awe of the carefully-arranged piles of their favorites up for grabs! And, AND… no cooking for you for the rest of the day. It’s a win-win!

Another one of my favorite Heart Day gifts cleverly pawns the work onto your kids! All you need is a few Mason jars (or plastic containers), a giant mixing bowl, and an assortment of your children’s favorite bite-sized snacks. I call it the “All the Things I LOVE” snack mix! Let your children pick handfuls of their favorite snacks to dump in the mixing bowl. Then, gently toss to mix them. Transfer the mix to the jar or container and voila! instant Valentine gratification! Bonus point mom move: let your prince or princess decorate the jar or container with stickers or poms!

Valentine’s Day is all about hugs and kisses! The ultimate fave at our house is the annual giant Hershey Kiss… with a twist! I whip up a large batch of Rice Krispie treats. (Just eyeball it… microwave about a stick of butter with a bag and a half of marshmallows until melted, add some red food coloring for flare, then stir in the cereal until it works… done-so!) Use cooking spray to grease a funnel and pat the Rice Krispie treat mixture into the funnel until it is firmly packed. Dump it out onto a large square of tin foil, and wrap the foil around the Rice Krispie treat to resemble a giant Hershey Kiss! Use a strip of white paper to write a personal love note in place of the usual tag! I have to admit, I usually splurge and let my children eat these for breakfast; don’t judge, it’s cereal, right?

“You are Awesome Sauce, Valentine! You’ve stolen a pizza my heart!” No better time for some homemade heart-shaped pizza than on Valentine’s Day! I found individual-sized heart-shaped pans I reuse each year. Sure, there was an initial investment, but kids love making their own pizzas. You don’t even have to go crazy whipping up a homemade yeast crust. Cheat the system and go with refrigerated pizza dough or a 50-cent box of Jiffy mix. Cheese it up, top it off, and you are Mom-of-the-Year! Go big by adding some red cream soda, cherry Sprite, or Shirley Temples with grenadine. Oh, and an additional busy mom footnote: some local pizza parlors have begun to sell make-at-home pizza kits! Try one out!

Hey, play with your food, kid! Use a tube of white icing to pipe a tic-tac-toe board onto graham cracker squares. Have your little cupid sort out a pile of conversation hearts by color and use two colors to play tic-tac-toe! The winner gets to eat the iced cracker! Yum!

I dip, you dip, we dip… pretzels! Pick up a bag of pretzel rods and some melting chocolate to make “You are WANDerful!” chocolate-laden deliciousness. Follow the package directions for melting the chocolate and transfer it into a tall glass or cup for pretzel dipping. Dip the pretzel rods in the melted chocolate and place them on a sheet of parchment paper to dry. Get fancy; decorate the rods with sprinkles or tiny candies before the chocolate sets and hardens.

There you have it! This Valentine’s Day, show yourself some love! Put down the mom guilt, and pick up a few of these easy ideas to express how much you care! XOXO