Valentine’s Day Traditions
I’m going to venture to say that a part of the reason that Valentine’s Day has been hyped up so much, besides the history and symbolism of it all, is because after Christmas and New Year’s we need something to look forward to. It’s the height of winter, it’s pretty bleak and boring and gosh darn it, we need some red and pink in our lives!
History of Valentine’s Day
That said, there IS a long history to the holiday, which I find super fascinating. Valentine’s Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14th that has its origins in ancient Rome. The holiday was originally called Lupercalia, and it was celebrated as a fertility festival. As part of the festival, men would draw the names of women from a jar and pair up with them for the duration of the festival–(really hoping the women had a choice in the matter–anyone know?!).
In the 5th century AD, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as Saint Valentine’s Day, in honor of a martyr named Valentine who was believed to have been executed on that day. The Catholic Church recognizes several saints named Valentine, but the exact identity of the one honored on Valentine’s Day is unclear.
Over time, Valentine’s Day evolved into a day to express love and affection between romantic partners. People began to exchange gifts, such as flowers and chocolates (two of my favorite things), and write love letters to their loved ones.
Valentine’s Day tradition ideas
As you know, I LOVE this holiday and we’ve been sharing ways to celebrate for years and years. Here are some of my favorite ways to celebrate love in all its forms that would make terrific traditions!
My rules about traditions
There aren’t “rules” per se, but I’m pretty insistent on not taking on anything that overwhelms you. Find traditions that work with your interests and time constraints, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for unmet expectations. I’ve been there and done that! Take these as ideas, not have-tos!
Valentine’s Day advent calendar
Ok! Let’s start! I say, why not get all the excitement out of every holiday as we can?! Why leave an advent calendar just for Christmas?! We made countdown for Valentine’s Day and I have to say–it’s a great way to build excitement!
Valentine’s Day Cards
A classic and simple way to express love is to write a card for Valentine’s Day. I’m talking like when you’re in elementary school–handing out cards. You can do store bought cards, of course, but there’s something lovely about making your own, or even just folding a piece of paper in a unique way. We have a ton of printable options and handmade ideas.
Handmade Valentine’s Day Cards
Making Valentine cards by hand is always my ultimate goal (now, do I actually do it??? that’s the real question…). Here are some ideas!
- Hand in heart love tokens. The history on these is so cool! We have some great templates for it that you can use on your craft cutting machine or by hand.
- Tootsie pop cherry valentines
- Hands holding hearts
- These woven hearts are typically a Christmas tradition, but I think they’d be great for Valentine’s Day!
- Paper cut heart template
- Valentine’s Day heart box
- Have you ever sent a Heart Attack for Valentine’s Day?
- Or left balloons at a doorstep?
- Make a face box
- Heart pom poms
- Paper lipstick Valentines
- Shrinky dink Valentines
- How to fold love letters into fun shapes!
- Handmade heart doilies using your craft cutting machine or by hand
- Tassel heart box
- Make a heart friendship bracelet
- Fruit pinatas for the more ambitious 😉
- Valentine’s Day printable candy boxes
Printable Valentine’s Day cards for teens and adults
- Printable Language of Flowers cards
- Printable Harry Styles Valentine’s cards
- Magical valentine cards
- Signed, sealed, delivered cards by Jacqueline Colley
- Love Potion cards by Danielle Kroll
- Floral postal stamp cards
- My home is your home would be sweet to give to your child
- I’m lucky to know you valentines
- French-inspired hearts
- Cupid valentines
- Carnation valentines
- Kiss me Valentine would be sweet for a partner
- Jessica Whittaker’s historical figure valentines are so good!
- Rosie Harbottle’s cards would be great for a partner
- Eiffel Tower Valentine cards
- Emily Isabella’s tear-apart Valentine’s are so cute!
- These ones would be beautiful to send to a loved one
- These paper vase cards by Angie Stalker would be great for a neighbor or friend
- These IOU cards would be fun to give to a parent
- These literal hearts are so colorful!
- Valentine Sunglasses
- Paris inspired cards
- Strawberry girl
- David Bowie Valentine printables
- Salvation Mountain printable Valentines
- Frootie Tootie Valentine cards
Printable Valentine’s Day cards for kids
- Bird, sun, and heart Valentine cards
- Floral postal stamp cards are so sweet!
- Valentine cards by Amanda Jane Jones
- My Home is Your Home would be sweet to give to a parent or grandparent
- Zoo valentine cards
- Michele Brummer-Everett’s vegetable Valentine’s are what I used last year for my kids
- Un-FROG-ettable Valentine cards are my favorite!
- You’re EGG-stra special Valentines–no wait, maybe these are my favorite
- This interactive Valentine would be fun for kids!
- A simple flower to go with this would be so cute to give out to classmates!
- These IOU cards would be fun to give to a parent
- You make my heart pop
- Valentine Sunglasses and these XOXO glasses
Valentine’s Day Giftables
A simple card is great, but add on a little tiny gift to it and it becomes a gift-able, which is that much better! These would be great for a neighbor or friend gift to hand out.
- Paintbrush Valentines. We even have kits!
- Heart boxes by Michele Brummer Everett perfect for a little treat
- Valentine Cookie Box (so cute!)
- Tootsie Pop Cherries (one of my all time favorites!)
More Valentine giftable ideas
- Valentine vase cards–just insert a flower!
- Harry Styles Valentines go with the suggested candies
- These would be cute with a coordinating hair clip
- These conversation heart boxes would be perfect for a cute cookie!
- Valentine Cookie heart box
- Friendship bracelet heart cards
- Total e-clips of the heart is perfect for adding on a hair clip
- Flower pencil valentines for a non-candy valentine
- Add a honeycomb to these Valentine’s to take it to the next level!
- This e-book has a collection of some of our favorite giftables!
- Add a smiley face sticker! or better yet, give a pack of smiley faces for the child!
- Include a magnify glass to spot the secret message!
- Wrap this cute printable around a chocolate bar!
- Add gum or a button!
- Add this printable around a set of matches
- Add a worm to a Tootsie Pop!
- Add a keychain to this printable Valentine
- Add this wrapper around a candle
- Add a card to this homemade box!
- A sheet of stickers would be great to hand out for Valentine’s Day!
Valentine’s Day Party Ideas
A Valentine’s Day party, or Galentine’s Day, my favorite form of the Valentine’s Day party, is a great tradition idea. This year I’m wanting to do a Valentine exchange party where we all make some and hand them out.
Valentine’s Day Party Decor
A party themed around love is the best kind to throw. Here are some beautiful ideas to add to your event:
- Strawberry Heart Cake topper
- Conversation heart cupcake toppers
- Party theme ideas
- Valentine’s Day Heart made of Balloons
- These Valentine garlands are my favorite
- Printable heart Valentine cake topper
- Valentine’s Day heart banners
- Sprinkle Me cupcake toppers
- Weart a Valentine’s Day crown!
- Put hearts on your straws and stirrers!
Valentine’s Day food
Valentine’s Day games
Table top games are a fun idea for the event!
- Printable Valentine Table Games
- Valentine’s Day coloring placemat
- Valentine’s Day Bingo card
- Valentine’s Day Would you Rather cards
- Valentine’s Day tic-tac-toe cards for the little ones
- Valentine’s Day poppers would be great for a gathering
Valentine’s Day Home Decor
- Heart doily valentine honeycombs would be cute a party
- Just add a flower to these Vases
- Cherry wreath
- Paper heart wreath for Valentine’s Day
- Baby’s breath heart wreath for Valentine’s Day
- These homemade heart poms on a branch would be great as decor!
- Valentine’s Day heart branches
- Paper heart leaf plant
- Paper topiary heart
Valentine’s Day artwork
An art print up on the wall gets you in the spirit of the season. Here are some favorites:
- This anatomical heart by Angie Stalker acts as both art AND a celebration of the season
- This girl in “My own Valentine’s Day” is me every day
Give a Valentine’s Day gift
Valentine’s Day accessories
If you’re not one to dress up all in red and pink on Valentine’s Day (and I ask you to reconsider), maybe a simple accessory is more your style. Here are some DIY projects to get you in the mood:
- Valentine’s Day heart collar
- Make a heart friendship bracelet
- Make a red and pink flower crown
- Add a printable Valentine’s Day crown
- Valentine’s Day leather heart collar
- Valentine’s Day arrow and heart pin
- Leather heart pins
Valentine’s Day box
For the school-aged kids, a Valentine’s Day box is tradition (at least around these parts!). I love going over the top! Here are some ideas for you.
- three pinata-inspired Valentine’s Day boxes
- Make a giant woven paper heart to put your Valentines in!
- Take this tissue box and turn it into something extraordinary!
- Here’s a simple way to dress up a box. Add stickers and turn it into a house!
- By the way, we held a Valentine’s Day gift box competition a few years ago. Here’s the post so you can take a look!
Valentine’s Day tradition ideas from around the world
In modern times, Valentine’s Day is a day for couples to express their love for one another. Many people give gifts, such as flowers, chocolates, and jewelry, to their partners. It is also common for couples to go out for a romantic dinner or take a trip together. Some people also choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their friends and family members.
Valentine’s Day is also a popular time for proposals and weddings. Some people choose to propose or get married on Valentine’s Day to make the occasion even more special.
Valentine’s Day is a holiday that is celebrated differently around the world. For example, in South Korea, it is common for women to give chocolate gifts to men, while in Japan, it is the opposite, where men give gifts to women.
Valentine’s Day traditions from readers
I asked our Instagram community for their traditions and you had a lot to say. Pretty much-you are all better people than me. I love these ideas! There were so many that I had to divide them up into themes.
For the kids
- “My kids always made their own Valentine’s. This was pre-Pinterest!”
- “We make a poster for each family member and each write something we love about each other every day until the 14th” [a lot of people contributed something along these lines]
- “Homemade sugar cookies with our names frosted on them!”
- “A small box of chocolates for each person and a heart pizza with a rom com for dinner.” [pizza was a big theme for a lot of people!]
- “A scavenger hunt with clues for a small Valentine gift basket at the end”
- “Writing a little note to my kids in lipstick on the bathroom mirror”
- “Fancy breakfast, kids wake to decorate table, love notes, balloons, new book and treats”
- “My mother would make heart shaped chocolate lollipops and set them at our bed to surprise us”
- “I felt like it was a dumb commercial holiday, but when my kids were tiny we started “lovefest”. I make them each a handmade Valentine. It sits by their plate at dinner. We go around the table and everyone says what they love about each person. My teenage boys act like they HATE it! But they get the sweetest embarrassed smiles through the whole thing.”
For the partner or loved one
- “My husband does at-home spa night for me and pretends to be a spa employee”
- “We always celebrated my mom and I. A date, flowers, small gift, that sort of thing.”
- “We do a fancy family dinner and candles and balloons and candy for all”
- “We always celebrate it on groundhog’s day instead because we’re weird and it’s easier to find a sitter”
- “Our Valentine’s date involves going together to pick out new cologne and perfume”
- “We go to the ballet every year”
- “Order Thai food and watch Princess Bride”
- “As a kid and still, I always get a love note from my mom”
- “Watching Notting Hill and slow dancing to our wedding song plus eating take out”
- “No matter the day it falls on we take the day off and my husband I spend it together”
- “Send out a family Valentine’s Day letter instead of a Christmas card. Less hectic time of year.”
- “I make handmade Valentines for my girlfriends. Usually a garland so they can decorate!”
- “I like giving chocolate and a pretty card to girlfriends”
- “I make little ornaments on cardstock with small bags of candy for friends”
- “We wrap nice chocolate bars with Valentine wraps and hand them out to friends all day”
- “Heart-shaped meatloaf”
- “Breakfast for dinner! Pancakes with lots of toppings!”
- “My mom used to make me brownies and cut them into hearts with cookie cutters”
- “Artichokes and Cornish game hens for dinner. IDK why, but we did it once andkept it going.”
- “Make heart-shaped pizza for dinner”
- “Pink sauce pasta for dinner”
Phew!!! Ok, that’s a LOT Of ideas! Remember, these ideas aren’t meant to overwhelm you. You don’t have to do any of them! Pick and choose what you want according to your interests and time constraints. What’s important is that you find something that works for you and is meaningful so it becomes a beautiful tradition.
Let me know how it goes!