Even though it took seven years to get through January, Valentine’s Day is going to sneak up on us! Do you know why Valentine’s Day is especially important here in Oregon? It’s our birthday! This year on February 14th Oregon will be 163 years old.

So as we all try to navigate Omicron while keeping our sanity – here are some easy ideas and activities for small Eugenians to celebrate love and Oregon.

Paint Rocks and Leave them on Our Trails

This is such a fun way to spread love – even to people we don’t know. Find some rocks with your kiddos in your own backyard or in a nearby park. Bring them home, wash them, use acrylic paint to decorate them with Valentine hearts, animals, etc., spray some sealant (if you want) and place them where people are likely to see them. Any of the bike path trails or maybe your family’s favorite park. The main goal here is for people to find them and be delighted. And what a lovely goal that is.

Celebrate with Adventure Children’s Museum

Have you been to the Adventure Children’s Museum at River Valley Mall? It has been a favorite of my family for years. We are so lucky to have them here in Eugene. The options to create and play there are endless. And for Valentine’s Day, they have two different ways to get in on the fun.

From now until the 14th, they are offering new Valentine crafts in the ArtLab every few days. This activity is included with the price of admission. So head over to the ArtLab while you’re there playing to check out what the day’s craft is.

If you’d rather get in the spirit at home, you can purchase kits to bring home. They offer a kit for $16 that includes tools, materials, and instructions to create 30 Valentines for your friends and family. They also have Valentine Mystery Bags which have a toy, stickers, a small craft, art supplies, and surprises. These bags are $5.

Heart Bird Feeder

We can also spread love to our feathered friends. Last year around this time, Oregonians were being told to take down their bird feeders to help stop a salmonella outbreak among wild birds. However, we are clear to get those bird feeders back up and welcome the birds back to our yards. (Please remember, though, once birds start to rely on your yard for food, you really should keep putting seed out there.)

You should Google this for my detailed instructions, but you need birdseed, unflavored gelatin, and heart-shaped cookie cutters. Basically, you mix the gelatin, water, and birdseed to make a thick birdseed mixture, place it in the cookie cutters until it’s hard. And voila! Bird feeder! Here is the link.

Go on a Heart Hunting Hike

There is a good chance Valentine’s Day weekend might be warm(ish) and dry(ish) this year. So get outside as a family and go for a hike! You can be ambitious and hike up Spencer’s Butte or just meander around Delta ponds. Make a game of finding naturally occurring heart-shaped objects and taking pictures with your phone. For little kids, it can be a cooperative family activity, and older kids can turn it into a competition. Mating ducks are also starting to pair up so you can look for birds that are “falling in love.”

Get a Craft Kit From MECCA

MECCA is another gem of Eugene. It stands for Material Exchange Center for Community Arts, and they are a community-powered nonprofit dedicated to the arts and environmental conservation. Each month they sell Maker Boxes that are ready-to-go project kits that highlight recycled and found materials. And for February, they are Valentine’s Day themed! They include Paper Roll Love Bugs, Love You to Pieces Wreath, and Pom Pom Flowers. Each kit costs $15 and can be picked up at MECCA, next to the train station.

Get Valentines for Classmates (or just your own kids) at Bricks and Minifigs

Due to Covid Bricks and Minifigs are not doing any big in-person events; however, they do have some custom Lego kits for kids to give out instead of the typical candy/pencils, etc. They’re offering a duck, a rocket, or a boat, and each comes with instructions and a fun message. They’re $2 each and a great way to mix things up on Valentine’s Day. Bricks and Minifigs is a business that really cares about Eugene. (They’re donating gift certificates for teachers to give out on Valentine’s Day. How cool is that?) So supporting them is always a win-win.

Make a Valentine Crafts at the J.C. Penney February Kids Zone Event

Head on over to Valley River Mall on February 12th at 11 am for this fun event. Kids will decorate a Valentine card and gift box to give to a friend. They’ll also receive a collector’s pin and lanyard. (And grown-ups get a coupon in case it’s two days before Valentine’s Day and you still don’t have a gift for your better half.)

Decorate Cupcakes with a Kit from The Sassy Cupcake

Eugene’s The Sassy Cupcake has an amazing Cupcake Decorating Box that looks like so much fun. Each box costs $37 and includes 12 cupcake bases, 3 bags of buttercream frosting, and 3 bags of Valentine sprinkles. They have everything for you to create masterpieces easily. And even if they don’t look beautiful with toddler kitchen assistants, they are guaranteed to taste amazing.

Eugene offers so many ways to celebrate with our kiddos! But please remember, staying home and cutting out construction paper hearts is also an easy, memorable way to commemorate Valentine’s Day. However you choose to show your kids you love them is perfect.

Happy Valentine’s Day!