So now the kids are home from school and probably had their own version of Valentine's Day in class, complete with one simple valentine from every child and assorted candy and cookies. They want to keep the excitement of the holiday going into the evening and you don't really want to run out to the store to buy the picked-over, still full-price decorations that are left. You need to improvise. I have a couple of easy suggestions.
First of all, how about some popcorn balls that are super simple to make with ingredients that most everyone has around their home. The only addition I would add is to put a drop or two of red food coloring into the recipe so that they look like a Valentine, or substitute the M&M's for Red Hots or conversation hearts.
1/4 C. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for buttering hands
1 ten oz. bag miniature marshmallows
1/4 C. light-brown sugar, firmly packed
3 qt. popped popcorn
1 C. M&Ms (optional)
Melt butter in a large heavy pot over low heat. Add marshmallows and brown sugar, and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Pour popcorn and M&Ms into pot; toss well. With buttered hands, shape into 2 1/2-inch balls. Set on parchment-lined baking sheet to dry slightly.
Yield: about 12
Then for dessert, they can make this really fun and easy recipe.
2 1/2 C. boiling water
1 C. cold milk
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
In a bowl, dissolve gelatin in water; set aside for 30 min. In a small bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix until smooth, about 1 minute. Quickly pour into gelatin; whisk until well-blended. Pour into an oiled 13x9x2" dish. Chill until set. Cut into cubes or use a heart-shaped cookie cutter.
Yield: 8-10 servings
Let them decorate and set the table for dinner and put special handmade, homemade place cards for every guest at the table. They will feel like they have personally made this a fun and special occasion for everyone. They may even want to call up their grandparents or other friends to join in the fun.