Checklist for Valentine's Day with Your Family

Skip the babysitter, long restaurant waits, and tired menu "specials." Make Valentine's Day a fun family night. Valentine's Day is about love and is not just for couples. Experts share tips on spending quality time together with your significant other and your children. They also share ideas for spreading kindness and love in your community. Don't worry; there are also plenty of tips on how to sneak in time for romance with your Valentine.

Share some fondue - "Shared dishes can heighten the mood and make you feel even closer, like fondue in a pot heated by candlelight. It's romantic, but being able to dip all different foods in warm melted cheese is perfect for kids, too," Lolita Healy, founder of Designs by Lolita, tells Yahoo! Shine.

  • Involve the kids in the planning - "Let children each pick a dipping item you will serve. With so many possibilities from veggies and fruits to breads and meats, ­everyone will find a combination they enjoy," says Healy.
  • Serve sparkling cider or ginger ale garnished with fruit.
  • Make it a game - Healy explains, "In the Swiss tradition, if a woman drops her bread into the cheese, she must kiss the person next to her; for kids, have whomever drops their bread do a silly dance or sing a song for the table."
Consider the community and spread the love - "Children spend much of their time in school and at home; Valentine's Day can be a great excuse to introduce them to groups and activities in the larger community," Chrysti Carol Propes, parenting expert and founder of Monkeez Makes a Difference, tells Shine.

"Your church or community center may host a Valentine's Day event, or hospitals and nursing homes may welcome visitors or Valentines to cheer up patients and residents. Choose an activity that's new for your family, and discuss what it means to be an active member of the community," says Propes.

Jennifer Durbin, author of "Planning Tips for the Clueless Chick," suggests donating a Valentine's Day treat to your local meals on wheels.

Pamper yourselves - "Enjoy a mother-daughter beauty day of your own at home (with some

bliss products) and or go to a local spa," says Lyss Stern, the Founder of Diva Moms.

Relive memories - Share photos, stories, and favorite vacation memories.

  • "Flip through an old photo album with your little ones. This is such a fun way to relive all of those great memories with the little people you brought into the world," says Durbin.
  • Durbin also suggests recreating your first date or visiting the spot where you first met with your kids in tow. "You will all have so much fun sharing the walk down memory lane," she says.
Serve up some heart - "Fill your day with love by serving only heart-shaped foods: strawberries and heart shaped pancakes, sandwiches cut in the shape of a heart, heart-shaped pasta with heart-shaped cookies for dessert! Don't worry if cooking is not your thing. In February, there is no shortage of heart-shaped everything at your local grocery store," explains Durbin.

Think pink (and red) - Parents concerned about food dyes can stick to more natural ways to celebrate Valentine's Day. Use ingredients that are naturally red, without added chemicals.

  • Blend a Pink Pomegranate Smoothie.
  • Make heart-shaped pizzas with sliced, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil leaves.
  • Toss a salad of field greens with fresh raspberries, or try spinach with strawberries.
  • Serve fruit salad with watermelon, a real treat during February!
Bake together - You could buy cupcakes from the store, but, then you'd be missing out on the messy fun. In less than an hour your family can bake, decorate and eat Valentine's Day cupcakes. "I prefer the memories made while making them at home with the kids," says Stern.

Save the lunch date - Shhh...the kids are at school, and you and your Valentine want to have some time alone. Skip the fancy dinner and meet up for a quiet lunch at a local cafe or at home. Can't get away? Plan to bring lunch to the office and meet up.

Yes, parents (single, wed, and "it's complicated"), there can be a date night - "If you cannot even remember the last time you and your Valentine had a date night, find a way to sneak out," says Durbin.

  • Durbin suggests swapping babysitting duties with another couple so that you each have a fun night out. You'll also save on the expense of a sitter.
  • Or take a vacation day to spend with your Valentine.

The most important tip - Think about your family. "While most moms feel Valentine's Day is intrinsically about love, it is the love of their families they're celebrating. If you're like most families, your date night will include more than two people, so find creative ways to celebrate with the entire family without forgetting the love used to create that family," says Katherine Wintsch, founder of The Mom Complex.

More from this contributor:

Last-Minute Valentine's Day Decorating with Kids

Love American Style: Valentine's Day Family Brunch

Valentine's Day Recipes: How to Make Your Favorite Foods Red or Pink