How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day without Sugary Treats

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I don’t know why we do this to ourselves. Every year, we collectively decide as humans to start eating healthier in the New Year. We’re going to cut out the sweets and learn to have fun without food and exercise more and all that.

Then six weeks later, we’re loading up our grocery carts with heart-shaped chocolates and champagne and any number of unhealthy treats.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a good treat every now and then! I LOVE me some chocolate.

But I’ve had lots of times when I felt frustrated by the pressure to blow my good eating habits with treats that I didn’t really want simply because I wanted to celebrate and enjoy a holiday and it’s hard to separate the two.

I don’t want food to control my life. That’s a two-sided coin.

I don’t want fear of food to keep me from having a good time. (Aw, my Valentine’s Day is going to be lame because I’m not eating chocolate on my new diet.)

AND I don’t want fear of missing out on a good time to push me into eating. (C’mon! What’s Valentine’s Day without some chocolate?)

It really is nothing more than habitual thought. If you do the same thing over and over, you’re going to associate the two actions. I see hearts, I eat chocolate.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are some of the ways our family has celebrated Valentine’s Day without focusing on sugary treats.

This is a Core Memory Moment.

Sweetheart Date

This is perhaps the sweetest, most wonderful tradition we have as a family. When our oldest daughter was in kindergarten homeschool, her public school friends were all getting ready for a Sweetheart Ball, a special event where the kindergarten kids took their moms and dads on a date.

We loved the idea and adopted it for our family. I bought her a dress and did her hair. Daddy picked her up and took her out to dinner.

Thus a tradition was born.

Whenever our girls were 5 yrs old, Daddy would take them on their special Valentine’s Day date.

This year, my son is 5 and I cannot tell you how excited I am about our date tonight! He’s asked to go buy a suit and he’s already picked out a bow tie.

I can’t wait!

UPDATE: We had so. much. fun. Moms, take your sons on a date! I was blown away by how important it was to him. We do lots of things just the two of us, but he felt so strong and big. I just know this was a big deal.

He was the perfect gentleman, and I couldn’t be happier with my date!


I know this one isn’t mind blowing, but it’s a shift in thinking. We’ve always felt like flowers on Valentine’s Day was too expensive of a gift for all the kids and doubted they would even appreciate it.

“We’ll just get them a little chocolate treat,” we tell ourselves.

But honestly, those boxes of chocolates aren’t that cheap and a single rose or a bundle of blossoms from the grocery store isn’t that expensive. The cost could be about the same. Especially if you break up the bundle into little mason jars with ribbons for each kid.

It communicates the same message–you are loved and deserving of a special treat, but without the extra message that a treat means chocolate.

I know self-care is important, and I’ve been guilty of turning to food to ease my emotional problems way too many times. Perhaps if I’d learned to associate good feelings and self-care with a fresh bouquet instead, I’d be happier and healthier.

Super Easy and Healthy Treat

Heart-Shaped Breakfast

If it’s got to be done, why not make it fun!?

Hey, we’re cooking breakfast anyway. Let’s jazz it up with a little Valentine’s Day extra magic.

Pull out a heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut a heart into a piece of toast. Spread the small, heart-shaped piece of toast with strawberry jam.

Take the toast with the heart-shaped hole and plop it in a skillet. Crack an egg in the middle for a special sweetheart breakfast!

Heart-Shaped Crafts

I don’t always love the mess that goes along with crafting with kids. It can throw things off. But, I ALWAYS love the good-vibes feelings I get while watching them create.

You can just feel it. They know this is a gift–a gift of your time and your craft supplies and attention–and they invariably repay it by making the craft just for you….or Daddy. LOL

The point is, it’s not just making a mess and playing with paint. There’s a sweet energy happening here. Love is given and received.

If you need ideas for quick and easy Valentine’s Day crafts, click here.

Valentines Ideas that aren't sugar
a whole album just for her

Memory Lane

Ever since I was a little girl, I LOVED looking at family photos. Particularly ones that had me in them. They helped me remember the important times in my life and gave me the opportunity to witness my life from an outside perspective.

I saw the cakes my mom made for our birthdays and realized how much effort went into that. I saw the smile on her face as I opened my Christmas presents. I saw how much effort she put into styling my hair so it would look “just precious” even if I didn’t appreciate it then.

Emotions get in the way of truth sometimes. We might fight with a sister and think the relationship is a bad one, but looking at years and years of happy moments shared together is a reminder that a falling-out doesn’t mean a broken relationship.

Share this wonderful gift with your family by opening up your photos app and taking a walk down memory lane.

We LOVE Amazon Photos for this. A lot of people don’t realize this, but your Amazon Prime membership includes unlimited photo storage. And it’s super easy to pull up your Amazon albums on the family tv with the Prime Photos app on your Fire TV.

Don’t have Amazon Prime? Try it free for 30 Days.

We have the photos set to our screensaver which means we enjoy looking back at the kids’ growing up anytime we pause TV for too long.

Photo Shoot

On that subject, when was the last time you got in the picture with your kids? I looked over my photos recently and realized there were sorely too few photos of me with them together.

One of the best gifts you can give is the gift of photos.

Need a great gift idea for your man? Get all dolled up and snap a few just for him.

Want a treasure for your kids? Take a photo of just you and her or him and frame it as a gift for them.

You can do this ahead of Valentine’s Day to give as a gift, or you can do it together on Valentine’s Day at home as a fun family activity.

Candlelight Dinner for all

When we were dating, our college had a huge event (SingSong. There is singing and choreography. I can’t really explain it, but you can check out ACU Sing Song on YouTube if you’re curious) that everyone participated in around the weekend of Valentine’s Day so hubby and I never really went out for Valentine’s Day.

Then we got married and had a baby and going out just wasn’t worth the hassel.

Now, we kind of love our family tradition even more than a date night.

I cook a special supper for everyone and we get out the best dishes and light candles on the dinner table.

The kids feel so special. It kind of carries over that Sweetheart Date feeling that we want to instill. We want them to know what it feels like to be cherished and respected and loved.

A special dinner for no other reason that to celebrate that each of us is special and loved is truly precious. It’s the sort of emotional memory that a woman or man carries through the rest of their lives. That’s my goal for parenting–not just to have happy kids, but mostly, to raise happy, healthy adults.

Dance Party

After our special dinner, we have two favorite family activities. Games and Dancing.

Living room dance parties are the best! We just tell Alexa to turn on some of our favorite tunes and have fun. Or sometimes, we pull up YouTube on the television and search for karaoke versions of our favorite and make it a sing-along too.

This is one of those family activities that I don’t think you can wear out. It is always fun and really tires the kids out! So if you’re hoping to tuck them in and enjoy some Mommy and Daddy time, this is a good one.

Playing for “Kisses”

This is a fun idea my husband came up with a few years ago. And to be honest, it’s not sweets-free. We play with chocolate kisses involved too, but they’re not entirely the focus.

We play Apples to Apples with a special Valentine’s Day twist. Whoever wins each round gets the card, but they also get a kiss.

They can pick either a chocolate kiss or a kiss from someone at the table.

It’s delightful to watch your little one’s eyes light up as when they win and get to say “I want a kiss from Daddy” and get a kiss on the cheek instead of a chocolate.

Or to see how special they feel when Mom or Dad wins a round and chooses to get a kiss from him or her.

*Of course, anyone can always refuse to give a kiss. We also encourage consent and wouldn’t want our kids to feel like they have to give a physical affection if they don’t want to.*

This little game lets the winner receive love in three of the five love languages. They can choose the chocolate (a gift) or a kiss (physical touch) and enjoy the connection of being together (quality time). With a little ingenuity, we could expand to include the other two as well.

If you haven’t read The Five Love Languages, you should! And if you have read it, have you checked out The Five Love Languages of Children.

Love is not spelled c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e.

Expressing love for our kids in different ways is important because not every way is most effective for each person or at all times. Sometimes we feel most loved by spending time together, sometimes we need a hug, or sometimes we might feel loved most when someone gives us a gift.

It’s important to show your kids that love can be expressed and received in a variety of ways.

While I may always feel that a party without cake is just a meeting, and I may find it hard to separate celebrations from food, I want my kids to learn to celebrate in a lot of different ways.

How did your family celebrate Valentine’s Day growing up?

What were some of the ways you felt most loved as a child? Could those experiences be part of your Valentine’s Day celebrations?

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