After a little discussion about how to best facilitate such an activity, we decided to invite all the friends from our apartment complex over on Sunday afternoon, and have each couple or family bring a decorated mailbox and a Valentine to hand out to every family.
Bart sent out the evite (listing Ella as the host, which I thought was darling), and we quickly got an enthusiastic response.
Ella was thrilled about painting her mailbox (Bart was less thrilled about all the glitter I let her use on it), and couldn't stop talking all week about "my party wif friends."
I was in charge of the Valentines we would hand out and when I saw these little tic-tac-toe cards on my Valentine's Pinterest Board, inspiration struck.
I remembered how, at Christmas, Ella fell in love with Don't Eat Pete (it was one of our advent activities), and I thought it'd be fun to do a Valentine's version.
I made the cards and then had them printed as 4x6 photos (if you sign up for an account with Walmart's photo shop, you can get 25 free prints, so this cost me exactly nothing). I then picked up a handful of the clear spice bags from the bulk section of my grocery store and filled them with a bunch of red hots (so cheap! so festive! so tongue-burning!) and stapled the bags to the back of the cards.
I was extremely happy with how they turned out, and Ella insisted we play many rounds of it during the week.
When yesterday afternoon finally arrived, Ella was beside herself with excitement, asking every two minutes, "When are my friends coming?" and finally went to stand by the clock in her bedroom so she could watch the clock turn to four.
Because it was between lunch and dinner, I didn't want to do a huge spread, but I certainly wanted to have some treats.
And hello to some of my favorite cookies, these granola cookies, which I loved for this event because they were definitely a treat, but they also had some substance, with granola, coconut, flaxseed, wheat flour, cranberries, almonds, and peanuts. They were met with rave reviews.
And a couple of mini-loaves of cinnamon strawberry bread. I wisely stashed one loaf away for myself to eat later because all of the slices I put out got scarfed.
After an hour or so of visiting and eating, every family showed their Valentines and then we set out all the mailboxes on the kitchen counter and went around delivering one card or treat to each box.
We had some great little treats and cards:
Homemade fudge from Landen and Adam
Cupcake cards from Kasee and Jason
3-D stars from Kristin, Joel and Sienna
And we had one happy little girl (who may or may not have been quite hopped up on sugar by the end of the evening).
If you're unfamiliar with Don't Eat Pete, here's how to play: Place a candy on each square (or heart, in this case) and send one person out of the room. The other players choose one number to be "Pete" and then invite the first player back into the room. That player begins eating the candies off the board, one by one, until he or she picks the candy that has been named Pete, at which point the other players all yell, "Don't eat Pete!" Download the printable game card here.