Seattle Living

Valentine’s Day Family Traditions for a Lifetime of Love

"I wanted my husband and I to be our children’s first valentines, to shape their impressions of this holiday and teach them it’s not merely about romance, but about love"

By Alison Hodgson, Houzz Contributor February 14, 2017


This article originally appeared on

Years ago I was shopping with my daughter and being helped by a pleasant young woman. As she and I chatted, a man came into the shop, holding a small bouquet and a card, and stopped at the register. The young woman excused herself. She and the man spoke quietly for a moment, then he handed her the card and the flowers, kissed her on the cheek and left.

“That was my dad,” she said. “I broke up with my boyfriend a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t looking forward to Valentine’s. But ever since I can remember, he has gotten me something, and my mom has done the same for my brother, so we always have a valentine. It’s nice.”

“That’s so sweet,” I said, and right then and there decided I wanted to do this for my kids.

living room

I’ve said before that too many parents mistake childhood for an extended cruise and cast themselves as the activities director, so it may seem surprising that, of all holidays, I’m suggesting you make sure to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your children.



Can we agree—no matter how lowly you rate the importance of this holiday—that when you don’t have a special someone on February 14, it can leave a bit of a mark?


I wanted my husband and I to be our children’s first valentines, to shape their impressions of this holiday and teach them it’s not merely about romance, but about love.

To do this you don’t have to buy special decorations or bake extravagant treats. You get to decide what fits you and your family.

We keep it fairly simple. If it’s a school day, we make a special breakfast. One year it was strawberry smoothies served in goblets and doilies on the plates. Paul’s specialty is Belgian waffles, and several years he has made those. Last year one of the kids had an early-morning surgery, so it was simply cards on their plates at dinner and small boxes of chocolate.

I have fun selecting cards for each of the kids: a beautiful one for Lydia, jokey for Christopher and anything dogs or puppies for Eden, with a priority on pugs.

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