Last-Minute Valentine's Day Decorating with Kids

From easy and cheap to edible and fun, these last-minute Valentine's decorations for kids not only add color to your day, they also provide some entertainment for your family. Using household and pantry items you can make either inexpensive decorations or edible ones. These decorations are suitable for a low-key Valentine's Day or a small party with friends. The key is that family members of all ages can join in the fun. Who knows, you may even get dad to join the fun.

Homemade Lace Place Mats

Two creative kids, one 17 and one provided the inspiration for this last-minute Valentine's Day decoration. You may be familiar with making snowflakes out of paper, but did you know you can also make truly intricate designs and then turn them into place mats or coasters?

Use a cheap white napkin and fold it. Cut out wholes, lines and different shapes until there is no more napkin left to cut without making it fall apart. Unfold it and admire your design. Place the unfolded napkin onto a piece of clear laminate. Add more napkin pieces, pictures or "love" words before sealing with a second piece of laminate.

You could also cut one place mat into circles to make coasters. For the coasters, glue onto craft cork or circular pieces of felt.

Valentine's Day Balloon Decoration and Game

On strips of plain paper, write down some prize ideas for your family. They can range from "one day without chores" to "you pick dessert tonight" or "good for one movie." Pick age-appropriate prizes that either excuse them from a chore for a day, or provide them with a fun activity.

Tape the balloons to a wall (after you test a piece of tape to make sure it won't peel the paint) in the shape of a heart. Everyone in the family can poke the balloons with forks. Let family members trade "prizes" if they want to.

Edible Sugar Cookie Tree

Bake a batch of your favorite sugar cookies, from scratch or from one of those handy sugar cookie bagged mixes. Cut out heart shapes and stick a wooden skewer through the cookie, horizontally. Cook the hearts according to the recipe directions.

Decorate each sugar cookie with pastel colors: mint green, light purple, sky blue, Easter yellow and powder pink. You can make them look like Conversation hearts by writing short words and phrases on each cookie, including:

Text Me

You're Great

Love You

Be Mine

XOXO

Cut a pink grapefruit in half and eat the grapefruit, flat side down onto a vase. Stick the skewers into half of a pink grapefruit. Your Valentine's Day table will look pretty and tasty!

Family Tree

Use a piece of poster board to make this Valentine's Day family tree. Crush up small pieces of green tissue paper to make grass on the bottom of the page. You could also use white for cotton, since you may have snow on the ground right now (yes, still!) Draw a tree trunk with brown crayon, or cut one out of brown construction paper.

Kids can cut heart shapes from red, white and pink paper. On each heart, kids can draw a picture of a family member. You can use copies of actual pictures, too. Write words on some hearts describing what you each love most about about your family. Glue the hearts to the tree. Hang the decoration up in the living room or the kitchen where everyone can admire it.

Edible Valentine's Day Napkin Rings

Start with some dental floss, cut into 8-inch strands. String different items onto the floss including fruity Cheerios. Older kids can use a needle threaded with floss to poke through pink marshmallows or gummy fruit treats that are red, pink, white or purple. Tie off each strand when done and wrap around the napkins. For a healthier option, use red grapes, just be sure to keep them refrigerated until you are ready to use them.

Laundry Love

Better than a fresh and clean batch of laundry, it's this last-minute Valentine's Day decoration. Hang up a piece of red yarn or string along a wall. Use paper clips, binder clips or clothespins to display Valentine's Day cards. The cards can be ones your family has received, or the extras that you made or bought.