Well, I started off the day with presents for our kids! Even though I always purchase and fill these heart shaped bins, my husband gives them to our kids "from him" on Valentine's day asking them to be his Valentine. It's super cute!
So now for the party! A few days before, I prepped the food station to cut down on my work the morning of. The party was starting at 10:30am! If you can use things you already have, it's totally worth it. Invest in some white or glass serving dishes that you can use at all occasions. I also just used a white sheet to cover the counter because they don't make tablecloths that long. And if you can put your food at different heights (especially in the back), it creates depth and character. Just use old pots or baking dishes, flip them upside down, and put the sheet over it. Immediate elevation!
I also prepped the coloring station a few days before just to cut down on "morning of" work.
I also made gift bags for all the kids. I simply bought a bunch of inexpensive white bags and used stamped and ink that I already had. I stamped hearts and each of their names on the bags. I put them in alphabetical order and when guest arrived, they could fill each bag with their Valentine Day cards.
I also gave the kids these bags at the end of the party to fill with candy once they broke open the "kiss" pinata. Of course, it was filled with Hershey Kisses!
I'm a big fan of holiday music and I find it very hard to find CD's with the right songs. So I typically make my own, finding songs all over the internet including preschool websites. So I made each family a Valentine's Day CD full of kid appropriate songs. I glittered a heart on each CD cover and wrote the songs on the inside.
Activities....well, first the kids were going to come and color Valentine's Day coloring pages that I printed from the internet. Then I thought they could decorate heart shaped cookies. So I set up a station which had heart shaped cookies, frosting in bags with the tips cut off so they could just squeeze it out, and lots of red and pink sprinkles!
After that, we read Valentine's Day books and sang songs like "I love you" from Barney and "Skidamarink, I love you".
Decorations were easy. It's actually cheaper in the long run if you can make some good quality and simple decorations that will last throughout the years. A lot of the store bought things get destroyed easily. So first I cut out heart shapes from felt and hot glued them to string and hung from the windows.
I also wanted a backdrop for the food area, so I did but good quality glitter heart shaped papers from the store, cut hole punches and added pink frilly string and hung against the back splash. It added a lot of color and dimension to the area. Then there are the simple things like hanging a red wicker heart over the fireplace in front of a mirror to give depth. I also have heart shaped candy dishes full of appropriate Valentine's Day candy.
Books for the holiday are always an easy way to decorate! Just prop them up in an area and voila...easy decor!
Food! Well I made the dessert and drinks and asked guest to bring lunch foods. All of my desserts I could made ahead of time except for the punch that had to be made the day of....I appropriately called it "Love Potion #9"!!!
We ended the playdate breaking open an pinata and reading our Valentine's! It was a great, stress free day! The key to making parties stress free is preparation! If you can prep as much as you can that week before, and plan for activities that don't need your constant attention, then you will be free to enjoy the party just like everyone else. And, if you have 15 toddlers over, like I did, babyproof, babyproof, babyproof! Put gates up everywhere and remove breakable objects. Give the kids a safe environment so that you, and the other moms, can relax a bit and enjoy the party!