School Valentine Parties

school valentine partiesLet me be up front and say I’m not a huge fan of school Valentine parties.

I can still remember my disappointment in 3rd grade when Linda Perfecthair brought big handmade decorated valentine cards to give to all her friends and recycled store-bought cards for everyone else.  Linda’s friends (Sally Cutedress, Suzie Perkynose, and Babette Giggleface) were all delighted.  The rest of us felt like losers.

Ever since then, I’ve approached the holiday with Charlie Brown worthy angst and dread.

As a mom, it isn’t any better.  

I worry for my kids that they will somehow feel slighted or be on the receiving end of some form of social stigma.  I worry that Linda Perfecthair’s son will be in their class.

But I also worry that some other mom is going to evaluate my choices and find me lacking.

I starts with the mailbox.

The kids are each supposed to bring a mailbox to the party.  You know the drill.  The kids all put their mailboxes on their desks and then they walk around and deliver their Valentine cards and gifts to all their little friends.

My kids would be happy with an undecorated cardboard box or paper bag.  They have absolutely no interest in decorating anything for the party.  Personally, I’d be happy to send them with a gift bag from the dollar store.

But, I worry that my kid will be the only one in the class that doesn’t have a hand-crafted masterpiece for the mailbox.

I worry that my kids will look around the room and suddenly feel inadequate, or that one of their little friends will notice and scoff at them.

Oh, let’s be honest, I worry that the room mom will notice and then tell all the other moms what a slacker I am.

(the room mom has been known to read my blog.  she’s a nice lady and doesn’t gossip.  but i still worry.)

Last night, one of the other moms posted a full photo spread on Facebook of her handcrafted masterpiece.  The thing looks like it’s two feet tall!  Suddenly, those little gift bags from the dollar store look pathetic.

(that mom has been known to read my blog too.  she’s amazing.  if i could be someone besides me, i’d be her.  she intimidates the snot out of me but i still really like her.)

And then there’s the “card”

When I was a kid, 99% of us brought those little generic cards to class.  They’re dirt cheap (10 for $1) and easy.  You scrawl “a friend” on the TO part, pretend to write your name on the FROM part, and then seal them with a sticker.  There’s even a jumbo sized one for the teacher.  Done.

They still sell those.  But no one I know (except me) would actually send them to the school Valentine party.  On no.  Those are reserved for handing out to the church Sunday school class, the random kids on the playground, the kids on your street that you don’t really know, and complete strangers that get caught in the crossfire.

For the “real” party, a simple card will no longer do.   (i found this out the hard way.  no one sends a memo to the poor kindergarten moms warning them about the ninja level competition for craftiness at school parties).

There’s not an official memo detailing all the rules, but as near as I can figure out it works like this.

  • Working moms, moms with more than two kids, pregnant moms, and moms in crisis are allowed to send store bought bulk pack cards as long as it’s the ones that include a pencil or candy.
  • Slacker moms can pretend to be pregnant or in crisis to earn the above exemption.
  • Normal moms are expected to send a small goodie bag with random stuff (pencil, eraser, candy, and plastic “toy”) with the traditional cheap valentine card taped to it.  Bonus points are awarded for using decorative ribbons or stickers.
  • Over achieving moms hand craft the cards and accompany them with some sort of homemade treat that they found on Pinterest.

I am not an over-achiever.  I don’t like to craft.  I have moral objections to “white chocolate” or summer coating.  My baked goods are perfectly tasty, but I’m not good at baking pretty.  I can’t feed my kids food coloring unless I have a roll of duct tape in the house.  My husband confiscated my glue-gun for safety reasons.

This year, I’m aiming for “normal.”  I don’t think I can manage a crisis again this year, and I’m not faking pregnancy.

(actually i tried for over-achiever this year.  i started crocheting apple cozies with the idea of giving everyone an apple.  my kids cried and screamed at my proposal.)

Then there’s the school Valentine party.

My memories for Valentine’s day as a kid are little hazy (i don’t think Linda’s last name was actually Perfecthair). But I’m pretty certain there weren’t moms at our parties.  As I recall, we’d walk around tossing little papers into each other’s mailboxes and then we pasted a card we were supposed to take home to give to our moms.  That was it.

There wasn’t a half day of entertainment involving multiple crafts, a three course dinner, a service project, custom table cloths with centerpieces, and fabulous door prizes (i may be exaggerating just a bit.)


I go to the school party because I’m supposed to.  I’m not working, pregnant, sick, or in crisis.  So my kid expects me to be there.  No problem.

Once my son has seen me, I might as well not be there.  He expects me to stay on the other side of the room and not talk to him or look at him.  I’m not allowed to leave the room, but I’m not allowed to act like his mother.

So I will stand there tomorrow ignoring my son, talking to Babbette Giggles and admiring her two baby girls dressed in their identical handcrafted Valentine’s themed outfit.

(i’m amazed by babbette.  i will barely manage to remember to wear earrings and a clean red shirt for the party.)

I will stand there, and watch to make sure Linda Perfecthair’s son hasn’t slighted my son with a substandard card.

(linda is super nice these days and would never let this happen.  it’s just me.)

I will stand there, and listen to Suzy Perkynose’s cousin tell me about how she made corn syrup and red dye candy for the kids (but eats only organic gluten free sugar free dairy free fun free foods herself.)

(Suzy, if you read this, please don’t tell your cousin.  If you tell her what I wrote then I’ll be forced to tell her all about that paste eating thing, ok?)

And I wonder — does my son have any idea how much I love him?

I’m off to spend the rest of the day crafting Valentine’s mailboxes and making paper for my kids to turn into Valentine’s Day cards.  What are you up to?

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Houston Mom Blogger Susan Baker has a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood. She has two elementary school boys, one engineering husband, and one cat. She has a strange fascination  for eggs, socks, and books.  She spends far too much time on Social Media and at Target. She is crazy in love with her family.  She serves an amazing God.   She lives an ordinary life filled with wonder. [/author_info] [/author]

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. Well, if you can hang on until middle school, they don’t do Valentines (or at least that is what a certain eye-rolling 6th grader told me). I sent the same eye-rolling kid to school with a grocery store plastic sack last year and he didn’t mind at all. They decorate sacks in class in 2nd grade–love that concept!! I admit to falling for one of the Pinterest Valentines this year for the second grader to take to school (we’re out of school tomorrow so the party is today). I can’t share many details since I know how you feel about curse words but suffice it say next year I am buying the boxed cards! Much easier than cutting and stapling 22 “toppers” onto ziplock bags. Hope you enjoy those Valentine parties tomorrow!
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    • I WISH they’d decorate in class. That would level the playing field.

      I did the Pinterest project thing for Christmas. I hand-crocheted little sacks for each child that doubled as a Christmas ornament. We tucked chocolate into each one. The kids promptly turned them all into weapons of destruction. I used one or two of your special vocabulary words when I was assembling those.

      As moms, we do this to each other. I wish we’d stop.

      Oh, I found some pre-bagged popcorn in individual bags that are all decorated for Valentine’s already. All I have to do is write “to a friend” on each sticker and put the stickers on. I’m thinking I should get bonus points for sending in a “real food non candy treat.”

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