Adult guests at your Valentine's Day party will love special sentimental touches, so make the party setting romantic with music, lighting, and decorations.
Music: For dinnertime entertainment, instrumental music (such as jazz or classical) is a safe bet that will be enjoyed by all. If you have a few favorite sweetheart songs, put them on a playlist to play in the background. Standard songbirds such as Nat King Cole or Tony Bennett are great options.
Lighting: Nothing makes a dinner table more holiday-ready than candlelight, so incorporate candles into your table decorations. A cluster of pillar candles makes a simple and beautiful centerpiece. Or place votives in the center of all guests' plates with their names on them to incorporate a bit of light into the place settings.
Decorations: A bouquet of red roses (or scattered rose petals) is an easy way to decorate your table for a Valentine's Day dinner party. Keep the arrangement simple in a clear vase or compote; see other easy ways to display roses below.
Give your party guests something to remember the evening with unique party favors or small, special gifts. Show friends or family members how special they are to you with journals full of memories you've shared together. Print the evening's recipes on a note card, attach with a ribbon to a favorite spice used in the meal, and give as a handmade take-home gift.
While the adults mingle before dinner, kids will stay entertained with our fun Valentine's Day games and crafts projects.
Games: Hidden valentines around the house with each kid's name on them make an fun hide-and-seek game, or make a puzzle game from an enlarged copy of a family photo cut into pieces. To make the puzzle a bit harder, use a photo of great-grandparents and other relatives, and have the kids guess who's who after the puzzle is complete.
Crafts: For a fun Valentine's Day exchange, have each kid at the party make one Valentine to give to another -- just set out pink, red, and white scrapbook paper, scissors, and stickers, and they'll take care of the rest. For another project, let the kids decorate glass votive holders with acrylic paints. Choose light colors, such as pink, white, and yellow, so light can flicker through the homemade creations.
Young party guests are easy to please with sweet gifts, so they'll love a personalized chocolate bar wrapper with their name or photo on it. Decorate-your-own sugar cookies to take home (or eat!) at the end of the evening also make great gifts for kids. For something less sugary but still sweet, lay clever "coupons" at each child's plate -- one can allow staying up an extra hour after bedtime, another can be for certain TV privileges, or one can be redeemable for an outing with friends.