Gather your friends and use these patriotic decorating, entertaining, and recipe ideas for this year's 4th of July celebration. From festive star banners and refreshing watermelon coolers to raveworthy party favors and more, your 4th of July party is bound to be summer's biggest shindig.View Slideshow
From romantics across the country, as well as editors here at home, enjoy these fresh, fun ways to share your feelings on Valentine's Day -- or any day of the year.
Cut heart shapes out of your family's morning pancakes or waffles. For a supper or dessert surprise, sliced veggies or candy pieces make great letters to spell out messages, too.
Whisper It Sweetly
Every year, Sweetheart Conversation Hearts feature new messages. Share some with your sweetie.
Fill the Fridge
While they're gone for a weekend or overnight, stock a loved one's refrigerator or pantry with the foods they love so they'll return home to their favorites.
-- Leslie Holland, Louisville, Kentucky
Let It Rise
Cooking or baking for people you love remains one of the oldest, best ways to convey your adoration of them. Sweet treats are often favorites, of course, but don't feel you have to limit yourself to cookies and homemade candy. "My kids love it when I bake bread, and I love it when their faces light up. It's like getting a double hug."
-- Pamela Gould, Golden, Colorado
Message in a Bottle
Float your handwritten love note in a glass vessel. Start by jotting a romantic message on a scroll of pretty paper. Roll the message and stuff it into a clear glass bottle. Then hide the bottle in a place where the object of your affection is sure to look, such as a sock drawer or medicine cabinet.
Source for bottles: anthropologie.com
Text Your Children
Traveling? Send quirky text messages to your kids. It's a quick and fun way to remind them that you care.
Get an E-Groove On
Send flirty e-mails via electronic card services (great for long-distance couples, including servicemen and servicewomen).
Handwrite a Letter
In this fast-paced, high-tech world, you may not remember precisely the last time you got a letter written by hand, but you probably remember how good it felt to get one. Spread that feeling by writing one yourself. No need to make it a love note; just share your day with someone.
Fill the Days
Get a daybook or daily calendar and write down the reasons you love someone on every page. Make them a mix of silly and serious reasons, and see how long it takes you to come up with 365.
-- Michelle Knoller-Dell, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This Valentine's Day, organize a sweet surprise for a friend or favorite relative. "Shower someone with love and good wishes, and ask all of his or her friends and family members to send cards that day," says Debbie Tenzer, author of Do One Nice Thing. Include a heartfelt thought, such as "You inspire me" or "Just hearing your voice makes me happy."
Take Your Turn
Do each other's chores once in a while. "I watch our baby while my wife attends fund-raisers. It's just a little way to show I support her."
-- Adam Kluger, New York, New York
Share the Wealth
Guys like getting special treatment, too. Treat him to a morning at the spa, a professional massage, or even a pedicure (clear polish is just fine).
-- Barbara Purcell, New York, New York
Candles and a Bath for One
Valentine's Day is a time of year to show special people how much you love them -- and that includes you. So pamper yourself. "Draw a bath, light some candles, enjoy some indulgence. If you don't care for yourself, you have nothing left for everyone else."
-- Stacy Kaiser, Los Angeles, California
Coupons are something any family member can make by hand or on a home computer. Kids might make them redeemable for chores or other good deeds. For a sweetheart, you could make them good for a kiss, hug, or back rub at any time.
Even if you don't have the best relationship with them, remember: They created the love of your life. Show your appreciation with a note, some flowers, even a homemade casserole.
-- Dina Koutas Poch, New York, New York
Remember: Pets need love too. Be sure to pamper them regularly.
Hint: Keep the treat jar stocked with their favorites, especially during February.
Put Your Heart on It
Sweet nothings are not just for whispering. Write "I love you" on a family message board or draw a heart on a steamed-up mirror to brighten the morning of a special someone.
-- Anna Catherine, Glenside, Pennsylvania
Leave notes beside a toothbrush or in a desk drawer. "Someone hid 40 'messages of love' around my house one time. Weeks later, I was still finding notes in coat pockets, between cereal boxes, and under lamps."
-- Juliana Guerriero, Long Beach, California
Tell Them at Work
A heartfelt note slipped into a briefcase or lunch pail, a message on their personal voice mail, or a gushy (but safe-for-work) e-card to their office address are all great ways to brighten their day on the job.
-- Beth McRae, Paradise Valley, Arizona
Find the Good
Jot a short note to a friend or family member and tell that person just one thing you love or appreciate about her. She'll remember that unexpected act of honest praise far longer than any other gift you might give her.
-- Cheryl Karpen, Anoka, Minnesota
End a Fight
Being the first one to say "I'm sorry" -- even if you're still feeling hurt -- sends a whole lot of love.
-- Mona Barbera, Providence, Rhode Island
Give Them Contacts
Make sure your loved ones know all the different ways they can reach you -- your direct line at work, your cell phone number, and all of your e-mail addresses. Tell them they can call you for any reason. That's love.
Make up your own special language or signals to express yourself to loved ones. Example: Swirling a finger in a circle, then making a dot could mean "I love you." This is especially great to use on kids since you can say how you feel in public without risk of embarrassing them.
-- Ellen Bookman, Marietta, Georgia
Compete in a sport together -- tennis, golf, even football. Admiring each other's strengths is a big turn-on.
-- Patricia and Alexander Klier, Orlando, Florida
Pick a regular date to indulge in a mutual passion. "We've loved music since we were young, so my friend and I celebrate our birthdays by going to concerts together."
-- Saretta Holler, Irvine, California
Find Your Center
Do yoga together. "The purpose of yoga is finding yourself. Then you can share openly with ones you love."
-- Tess Kienow, Little Palm Island Resort, Florida
Drive with Devotion
Driving your kids doesn't have to be a period of awkward silence. Use those opportunities to say what you feel: "I really enjoy our time together. You're a special kid."
-- Nancy O'Reilly, Springfield, Missouri
After dinner, take the kids power-walking, jogging, or to a family-friendly yoga class. Feel-good endorphins generate closeness and promote healthy living.
If you sing or play a musical instrument, convey your love through music: Write a song just for them, or at least learn one or two of their favorite tunes. Heck, try singing to them even if you can't sing. A moment's embarrassment will give them a lifetime memory.
-- Jeanie Bonansinga, Chicago, Illinois
Name your kids King or Queen for the day and devote that day to enjoying their favorite activities.