How to Do Secret Valentines: A Fun ‘Family Builder’ Idea
Many of us have not been able to be with our family members during this pandemic season. Adult children haven’t seen each other, cousins often can’t be together. Saddened by being apart, we wonder, “What can we do to build the closeness that we long for?”
Here’s one easy idea: use Valentine’s Day to re-connect with one another.
Many of us have been a part of “Secret Valentines” (or “Secret Santa”), maybe at the office. It’s always fun and creates a sense of camaraderie. Let’s use this idea in our families this year. We have 21 grandchildren ranging in age from 9-23. Their families live in different cities. It’s a challenge to help them grow close to one another, particularly this year. As parents more than anything we want our kids to love the Lord and each other. And this is true for our grandkids as well. But how can they love each other when they rarely see each other? As parents and grandparents, we can create opportunities for them to bond. To foster this, here’s one thing we are doing this year: assigning each cousin a “Secret Valentine.”
Here’s how it works:
1. Write out a list of your grandkids and assign each one a Secret Valentine. This is someone they will reach out to. A different person will be reaching out to them.
2. Email the list to the parents and ask the parents to give each of their children the name of their Secret Valentine (the person they are reaching out to). Their child is not to tell anyone who it is. It is a big secret until Valentine’s Day.
3. Set a date to begin “the caring.” Start today or at least by this weekend!
4. Each child will send at least 3 notes, etc. (the more the better) to their secret Valentine and will also send a Valentine gift (set a price limit) to their person for Valentine’s day in which they can reveal who they are. (Gift cards might be easiest.) For families with young cousins a parent can email a note dictated by their child to their secret Valentine. Be sure to tell the Mom to cut the header off when she prints it out so as not to give away the person.
5. Encourage creativity! Kids can send a special verse they are praying for their cousin, a note about something they appreciate in this person, a hand drawn picture, a poem, their favorite jokes, hints for them to guess who they are (make them silly and misleading!).
6. Go wild with secrecy and trickery. Bigger kids can really get into creative ways of throwing their Secret Valentine off the track and causing them to guess it’s someone else! Enlist a neighbor to hand deliver a rose to a cousin or sibling, or use technology to send funny messages.
7. If possible, schedule a zoom call on Valentine’s Day with the cousins and grandparents to share the experience!!
This plan can easily be modified.
* You can do this within your neighborhood, with buddies at church, or a sports team. Communicate with other parents to make the list. Celebrate with a social distancing party on Valentine’s Day for the “Big Reveal!” This builds community.
* You can do this within your own family. In this case siblings will be assigned a sibling.
* You could begin it Valentine’s Day with an anonymous gift card and end it at Easter, etc.!
Go with what best fits your family. The goal is building family friendships.
I hope you’ll join us in doing this, and I’d love to see what you do. Share pics and videos using #OurSecretValentines.
Can’t wait to see what kind of fun you get up to!
Susan is a mom to five children (including a set of twins) and grandmother to 21 (including a set of quadruplets!). She and her husband, John, have been married 50 years. They live in Falls Church, Virginia, a Washington D.C. suburb where John is the Senior Pastor of The Falls Church Anglican. She has written 16 books and speak on the subjects of marriage, parenting, faith issues, and women’s issues. Her books include And Then I Had Kids: Encouragement for Mothers of Young Children; Raising Kids with Values That Last; and Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest. Her latest books are Cousin Camp, Risky Faith, Becoming Brave Enough to Trust the God who is Bigger Than Your World and the One (Devotional) Book.