Teach Your Kids to Choose Valentine’s Day Presents…Even at the Last Minute

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Teach Your Kids to Choose Valentine’s Day PresentsHearst Owned

Valentine’s Day is the hump day of holidays: It falls right in the middle of the month and, despite being one of those holidays that never changes dates, it somehow always manages to sneak up on you. And if it’s hard for you to keep close track of, imagine how difficult it is for your kids, whether they’re in elementary, middle or high school—after all, they don’t have your years of experience (at scrambling to find suitable last-minute gifts, that is).

So stock up on stamps for mailing cards to grandparents, refamiliarize yourself with their school’s policies on food in the classroom (and whether Valentine’s Day candy is an exception!) and head to the store for some inexpensive purchases that will have a big impact. Read on for more details.

Elementary School

You’ll likely end up making most of the executive decisions for kindergarteners to third grade, but you can lead them toward smart “choices” with a few well-placed questions and hints.

For classmates: Candy valentines are, of course, always a classroom hit. If your child’s school permits, look for your kid’s favorite allergen-free treat in holiday-friendly packaging with room to write their classmate’s names on each package. (Some come with a bonus card for the teacher.) If sweets aren’t an option, a good alternative is something playful you can point them toward, such as toy figurines or activity sticker-card packs.

For best friends, siblings, cousins: When the relationships are a bit more special, suggest that your child pick out something they would like to receive themselves, like a plushie or teddy bear. Then get two, so they can play together.

For parents and grandparents: This is where traditional cards are hard to improve on. When you’re in the store, prescreen options and move your favorites to lower shelves where kids can still have the experience of finding a great one (but don’t forget to return unpicked cards to their places when they’re done). Then, for added (and personalized) fun, have them pick out art supplies to decorate the envelopes, such as heart-shaped stickers and colored pens to create doodles.

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Middle School

Make this a teachable moment: Give your child a budget and help them find items that fit within it.

For friends: While we never age out of candy, your tween might want a step up in sophistication from the cutesy cards of yore. Let them choose a chocolate sampler or bag of wrapped seasonal candies to share with friends during lunch or after school. Or for something a bit flashier, have them look for friendship bracelets, lip gloss or nail decals in shareable packs.

For siblings: Here’s where they can embrace the cute—in the form of a stuffed animal for younger ones, or themed pens or erasers for older. Pair the choice with a graphic card to complete the gift.

For parents and grandparents: Explain that homemade gifts will warm these loved ones’ hearts. Suggest they make a card featuring their own drawings or doodles, along with a handwritten note that explains their appreciation and love.

High School

Teens thinking about Valentine’s Day may not be desperate enough to ask you for help till it’s too late. So take your own initiative to point out these ideas to them well in advance.

For friends (and even family members): Suggest they go retro with a classic candy like Conversation Hearts, Milky Ways or Sugar Babies, and use them to write an edible note. To do so: Buy poster board and strong tape, and then plan out your message, using the names of the candies to get your point across by taping or gluing them to the board in sentence order. Write the whole thing on the poster with the candies attached — you’re giving a card and a snack all in one!

For close friends: If you have a teenager looking to get in on Galentine’s Day festivities, pink or red lipstick and trendy press-on nails are great on-theme gifts. (They’d also be a nice present for Mom, along with a sweet card, come to think. Don’t be afraid to drop a hint.)

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