Looking for something besides hearts and chocolate to help your children celebrate Valentine’s Day? How about celebrating true love — the kind of love God describes for us in 1 Corinthians 13?
Here’s a collection of ideas you can use all through the day on Valentine’s Day (or any other day) to help your children better understand what real love looks like. Use all these ideas for a whole day of fun, or if that looks too ambitious, choose just two or three.
- Some inexpensive valentines, heart doilies, or just plain 3×5 cards
- At least 20 paper or plastic cups (Valentines cups if you want to get fancy)
- One small, inexpensive (think Dollar Store) gift for each child, all similar but slightly different in some way
- An un-inflated balloon for each child
- A nice dinner with good dishes, candles, and flowers (if possible)
- 3 or 4 read-aloud books or family-friendly videos (These don’t need to be new to the family. Old favorites will do.)
Listed below are seven phrases from 1 Corinthians 13. These are part of Paul’s description of godly love. With each phrase, an activity or gift is described and an explanation is given for how the activity relates to the phrase.
- Copy each phrase listed below on separate valentines, paper hearts, or 3×5 cards. Then place each verse card with its designated gift or instructions, wrap it, and label it with its assigned number.
For example, copy “Love is patient” onto your first valentine. Then put that valentine and a stack of 20 plastic or paper cups into a gift bag or box. Wrap it and label it “No. 1”.
- Keep your stash of packages handy for dispersing all through the day. The first five can be given early in the day. No. 6 involves dinner time, and No. 7 requires some story-reading or movie-watching time after dinner. So plan for an evening together. You’ll be able to join in on the fun along with your children! As you enjoy the day (or one or two activities) together, be sure to explain what each verse means and how each activity can help them learn how to love like God loves us.
- End the day by praying together. Thank God for His great love for you. Thank Jesus for dying for you, and thank Him for giving you each other. Ask Him to help you love each other like He loves you!
1. “Love is patient.” With this card wrap at least 20 plastic or paper cups. (If you want to be extra festive, buy some inexpensive Valentine’s cups for this activity.)
When the children have opened the gift explain the game to them. They should work together to see how many cups they can stack without the stack falling. This will require patience with each other, since someone will be the person who places the cup that finally makes the whole stack fall. Try different ways of stacking. After several group efforts, you may want to also let each child try stacking the cups by himself.
Remind the children that love is patient with others, just like God is patient with us when we make mistakes or sin against Him.
2. “Love is kind.” With this card wrap an instruction card that says, “Think of someone outside our family that we can show kindness to today. What can we do that will help and encourage them? Let’s work together to do it — today!”
The word for “kind” in 1 Corinthians 13:4 has to do with being useful and meeting the needs of another person. Part of loving someone is looking for opportunities to help and encourage him — without expecting anything in return. That’s how Jesus loves us. We needed to be saved from the punishment for our sin, and He died for us, even when we were sinners and didn’t love Him.
3. “Love doesn’t envy.” In this package, include a separate small gift for each child. Each gift should be different in some way and should be labeled with the recipient’s name. All the gifts could be the same thing but different colors, or you could wrap different kinds of candy or Dollar Store stuffed animals.
Watch the children as they open their gifts. Are they happy for each other and the gifts they each received or are they wishing they had someone else’s gift? Use this opportunity to talk about rejoicing with others when they are blessed and being grateful for what we have.
Love is happy for others. Envy will look at others and want what they have. Love wants what is best for others, just like Jesus wanted what was best for us, even though it meant giving up everything for us. He left the glory of heaven to suffer and die for us, because He loves us.
4. “Love doesn’t boast.” In this package include an instruction card that says, “Do something kind for someone else in the family, but don’t tell anyone what you did.”
Everyone should report back to you after they have completed their act of kindness and simply tell you they’ve done it without telling you what they have done. (They can share later at dinnertime if you would like.)
Love is focused on others instead of wanting to draw attention to itself. Showing kindness without telling others what they have done will help the children focus on the other person instead of on what they have done. Jesus didn’t need to boast about all the good things He was doing because He was interested in serving others, not Himself.
5. “Love is not arrogant.” In this package include one un-inflated balloon for each child.
Have each child blow up his balloon and tie it closed, or help those who need assistance. Then explain that the word for arrogant in 1 Corinthians 13:4 means to be blown up or inflated — like a balloon! An unloving person is all filled up with himself, but a loving person is humble and thinks about others.
Have the children each sit on their balloon until it pops. That is what we should do with our pride!
Instead of thinking about how great we are, we need to be focusing on how great God is. That’s what Jesus did. He was humble and ready to do what His Father asked Him to do
6. “Love is not rude.” Include this instruction card in your package: “Dress up in nice clothes, fix your hair, and come to the table when you hear me ring the bell (or call, or whatever other signal you choose to use)”.
Have a nice meal prepared with your best dishes, candlelight, and maybe some flowers on the table. And be sure to have an extra-special dessert! When the children come to the table, explain that you’re all going to be using your very best manners during this meal. The boys should seat the girls at the table, everyone should use their napkins and silverware, everyone should have a chance to speak (quietly) and be heard, etc. You may want to talk about the day and what you learned about love. The children also might like to share what they did to show kindness to each other earlier in the day. Use this meal as an opportunity to teach some common etiquette in a friendly way.
Talk about why we should practice good manners. It’s a way of loving others. We’re making them more important than ourselves and what we might feel like doing. Jesus made our comfort and good more important than His own, even to the point of dying for us.
7. “Love is not selfish.” In this package, include several read-aloud books or a selection of three or four different family-friendly videos.
After they have opened the gift, the children should decide amongst themselves which book or movie they would like. This will require some selflessness and deferring to each other.
Help the children understand that this is part of loving each other. We don’t just think about what we want; we think about what the other person would like. Jesus wasn’t just thinking about what He wanted when He chose to die on the cross. He was thinking about us and what what good for us.