Major holidays tend to have major expectations. Think about Christmas, with its long list of gifts to give, meals to make, cookies to bake, and cards to send. The list is especially long when you're a parent because you're also trying hard to create traditions and make memories. On the flip side, minor holidays like Valentine's Day are heavy on the fun and low on expectations.
It wasn't until my friend shared a brilliant revelation with me that I realized the true power of minor holidays. She explained that shifting some major expectations from "The Big Holidays" to minor ones changes the game for everything from cookie decorating to holiday cards.
My friend Stevie Pattyn is the marketing director for Shop Sweet Lulu — a festive party supply shop. She's also a mom of three darling girls. You'd think that a celebration expert like Stevie would have some sort of secret to tackling the high expectations of the holidays, but like many of us she struggles to fit it all in. "Between the classroom and office parties, the gift shopping and big family meals to make, not everything I want to do happens. I often find myself thinking, as we are packing away the holiday decorations, next Christmas," confesses Pattyn.
My husband and I aren't Valentine's Day fans ourselves and instead treat the holiday as an excuse to dote on our two kids. Pattyn agrees, putting her energy into celebratory efforts that spread joy and love to others: "From a romantic standpoint, Valentine's Day is not my jam. But as far as holidays to celebrate with kids, it is my all-time favorite," she says. "I love the colors, the crafting, and the treats — but the best part? There are no big expectations like during Christmas. Valentine's Day is my Christmas redo, when I can enjoy all the things I couldn't get done during the holidays."
Valentine's Cards Are the New Christmas Cards
If you've ever struggled to schedule family photos, upload them, and order and print cards while also shopping for Christmas gifts and trimming the tree, then Valentine's Day cards are a simple stress-free solution.
"We never have time for family photos and traditional Christmas cards, plus I hate writing a generic holiday message," explains Pattyn. "We always send valentines in February instead. There's more time in our schedules for making personalized cards and the pressure is off for a picture-perfect family photo or long family letter." Payton went on to explain that she buys pretty tape, stinkers, and fun trinkets to decorate the cards. "Plus I don't think anyone expects a Valentine's Day family card, and it adds a little whimsy to their gray February."
Cookie Party 2.0
If you missed your chance to attend a cookie swap in December, now's your chance for sweet redemption. "One of the parties that never got crossed of our holiday list was a cookie-decorating party. Usually this time of year is pretty calm. And more often than not, we are stuck indoors with not much to do. And who says you can't host a Valentine's cookie exchange?" says Pattyn. Plus you can send these decorated cookies to school for Valentine's Day parties, or take them to neighbors you didn't have a chance to visit with during the busier holiday season.
More ideas from Shop Sweet Lulu: Valentine's Cookie Kit
This year will mark the second Valentine's Day that I've taken Pattyn's advice and moved holiday cards to February. We've added cookie decorating to our family celebration for Valentine's Day too. While my cards aren't nearly as elaborate as hers (I buy bulk cards from Target or the Dollar Store), I have to say that this new tradition relieves some imagined pressure off of Christmas and makes me actually look forward to February for reasons that have nothing to do with elaborate dinner dates or chocolates — our family spreads love and joy to our friends and family in a new, unexpected way.
Your turn: What big holiday traditions to you move to other times of the year?