Got the mid-winter blues? Liven up the season with some special activities for Valentine’s Day. The day isn’t just for sweethearts. You can use the occasion of St. Valentine’s Day to reflect on love and friendship among family and friends. Although the conventional gifts are cards, candy, and flowers, you can show appreciation for the special people in your life with simple touches of sentiment.

Here are a few heart-to-heart ideas to celebrate this special day of love with your senior adults.

  • Define the word love. List synonyms for love. Encourage reminiscing about the many kinds of love, including romantic, platonic, and divine.
  • Read or name clichés/idioms with love or heart, e.g., head over heels in love, the love of your life, love at first sight, wear your heart on your sleeve, follow your heart. Ask participants to explain each one.
  • Learn the story of Saint Valentine and the origin of Valentine’s Day. Ask: Why do we celebrate this special day? Pass out “Be My Valentine” cards. Ask participants to give some other names for Valentine, e.g., sweetheart, sweetie, true love.
  • For chocolate lovers, sample favorite chocolate treats: chocolate-covered cherries, Hershey’s Kisses, truffles, brownies, chocolate-covered strawberries.
  • Listen to the song “Puppy Love,” performed by Paul Anka in 1960. Ask participants to define “puppy love.” Encourage them to reminisce about their first love, a secret crush, or an infatuation.
  • Listen to the piano rendition of some old-fashioned love songs, such as “I Love You Truly,” “Somewhere, My Love,” “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” or “True Love.”
  • Name some popular songs from the 20th century with “heart” in the title. (Examples: “I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen,” “Ya Gotta Have Heart,” “My Heart Cries for You,” “If I Give You My Heart,” “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” “Heart of My Heart.”) Fill a small jar with small Valentine conversation hearts. Ask each group member to guess the number of hearts in the jar.
  • Display cutouts of symbols associated with Valentine’s Day: Cupid, doves, love knots, roses, red hearts/arrows. Discuss the meaning of each one.
  • Encourage group members to recall tokens of love or keepsakes they have received for Valentine’s Day. Display vintage lace doilies or handkerchiefs with lace trim and embroidered hearts. Ask how lace came to be associated with the special day.
  • Enjoy an old-fashioned romantic comedy movie, such as The Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart.
  • Read Robert Burns’ “A Red, Red Rose.”Ask: How is love like a red rose? Decorate with silk red rose petals.
  • Ask the ladies if they have ever been treated to a new fragrance on Valentine’s Day. Name some favorite vintage scents, e.g., Evening in Paris (remember the cobalt blue bottle?), Chanel No. 5, L’Air du Temps, Arpege, Miss Dior.
  • Host a Valentine Tea Party for grandmothers, mothers, and daughters. Encourage guests to wear red or pink. Serve heart-shaped cookies or scones and herbal teas.
  • Read some friendship stories or poems. Ask group members how they show gratitude and affection for best friends on Valentine’s Day. For some humor, watch an episode of “I Love Lucy” with best friends Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz.
  • Reminisce about special Valentine’s Day trips or getaways. Ask group members to name the 10 most romantic places in the world.
  • Divide the participants into small groups around tables and play the popular card game Hearts. Snack on heart-shaped cookies.


To sweethearts, Valentine’s Day is one of the most romantic days of the year. Take a “trip” with your loved one to Paris, France, often cited as one of the most romantic places in the world. Watch a travel video on the popular getaway with your group. Challenge participants to a trivia quiz.

  1. What is the French phrase for “I love you”? Je t’aime
  2. In which Paris museum of art can you view the painting of Mona LisaThe Louvre
  3. This famous tower in Paris, known as “Iron Lady,” attracts millions of tourists. Eiffel Tower
  4. Which river flows through the city of Paris? Seine River
  5. What do Chanel, Christian Dior, and Givenchy have in common? All are fashion designers.
  6. Which well-known landmark is referred to as “Our Lady of Paris”? Cathedral of Notre-Dame
  7. Paris is often called the “City of…” what? Light
  8. Before the adoption of the new currency, the euro, what was the basic currency used in France? Franc
  9. You might enjoy this classic French custard dessert with a caramelized topping. Crème brulee
  10. The French artists Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir are known for this style of painting. Impressionism

“VALENTINE’S DAY CELEBRATION” written by Sue Hansen. © 2008 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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