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Valentine's Day Party Vault


Welcome to the Valentine's Day Party Vault! We have lots of information here, and hope it helps you to plan the perfect Valentine's Day for you and your sweetheart, or for kids!


Valentine's Day History

In the 20th century we celebrate February 14th with the exchange of candy and cards; children give out cute little heart-shaped   greetings that proclaim their affection for classmates and teachers. Today's valentine cards are graced with the likes of Scooby Doo, Spider Man, Winnie the Pooh and, of course, Cupid! But in 5th century Rome, where the whole business allegedly began, it was a different story. On February 15th the festival of Lupercalia was celebrated to ensure protection from wolves. The celebration paid homage the gods Faunus and Lupercus, as well as the twin brothers Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome. According to myth, Romulus and Remus were suckled by wolves at a cave on the Palatine Hill, in the city of Rome. The Romans appropriately named this cave the Lupercal, and used it as the center of Lupercalia ceremonies. Young men called Luperci(priests) were reported to have struck people with strips of animal hide. Women accepted the blows because they felt that this whipping would increase their fertility.

In the Roman society a young man’s rite of passage was celebrated with this pagan celebration to the god Lupercus. As time went on Lupercalia began to be celebrated with a lottery in which the young men would draw the names of the teenage gals from a box. The lucky, or not so lucky, girl would then be the fellow's sexual partner during the remaining year. Often the lady would receive a gift or a greeting in the name of Juno, a Roman goddess.

Okay, and what about St. Valentine? Although many scholars agree that Lupercalia was moved from Feb. 15th to the 14th and was Christianized by associating it with this St. Valentine character, it is still unclear just who the historical St. Valentine was. One school of thought believes that he was a Roman martyred for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Legend has it that through the vehicle of his strong faith he healed the blind daughter of his jailer, and then, before his execution, sent her a farewell note signed "From Your Valentine." Other historians hold that St. Valentine was a temple priest, who was jailed for defiance, about the year A.D. 269, during the reign of Claudius the Goth. Emporer Claudius was having trouble recruiting strong young men for his army and believed that marriage was the culprit. He believed it made the men weak. This St. Valentine was said to have performed many secret marriages of young lovers, despite an edict that marriage was illegal. When Claudius first heard about Valentine he tried to convert him to his paganism. In turn Valentine attempted to convert Claudius to Christianity. When his effort failed the poor fellow was stoned and beheaded! Whoever he was, we know he was an actual person because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to a Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom. In an effort to do away with the harsh pagan festival, Pope Gelasius ordered a slight change in the lottery. Instead of the names of young women, the box would now contain the names of saints. Both the guys and the gals were allowed to draw from the box, and the game was to emulate the ways of the saint they drew during the rest of the year. This was not too exciting for many of those Roman men! Now, instead of the pagan god Lupercus, the Church desired to find a suitable patron saint of love to take his place. They found an appropriate choice in the nobel St. Valentine.

Although the lottery for women had been banned by the church, the holiday celebrated in mid-February in commemoration to St. Valentine was still practiced. It became a time for the fellows to give the gals that they were fond of messages of love.

The first true valentine card is said to have been sent out in 1415 by Charles, the Duke of Orleans, to his wife. This romantic card was sent from the Tower of London, where Charles was imprisoned, having been captured during the Battle of Agincourt. In 1537, King Henry the Eighth, as it is chronicled, declared February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day, by Royal Charter.

So much for Valentine, how about that sassy Cupid? Why does he rate his high standing on this historic day? In Greek mythology he was called Eros, the young son of Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love. To the Romans, he was Cupid and his mother was Venus. The ancients described him as having both a cruel and a happy nature. His cruelty is said to have been displayed in the treatment of the beautiful but mortal princess Psyche, Cupid's wife. Cupid refused to be with his wife unless it was under the cover of darkness because a mortal wasn't permitted to view a god. He loved his wife dearly, but, she was forbidden to ever see what he looked like. One night while Cupid was sleeping, Psyche lit a lamp so she could see her husband. Cupid awoke and fled in anger. Other myths, however,describe Cupid as a happy and handsome lad who united lovers. As time progressed he began to be portrayed as a chubby and naked infant with wings, holding a bow and arrows. If a person happened to be shot with one of cupid's arrows, allegedly   he(or she) would fall in love! Today we see the melding of Christianity and paganism with St. Valentine being honored by the chubby Roman cherub with wings.


Party Planning

Countdown: Planning is the secret to a successful party. Once everything is thought out, your party will run smoothly.

One Month Ahead:  Decide on the date, time, place, and number of guests for your party. Start by buying or making your invitations. 

Two Weeks Ahead: Phone, email or mail the invitations.  If you're mailing them, be sure to ask for an R.S.V.P. so you'll know exactly how many to expect. Make plans for the menu, activities, gifts (or prizes), and decorations. If you're planning to include any games, be sure to plan more than you'll have time for. This allows you to go on to another game if your guests aren't having fun.

One Week Ahead: Make or purchase the party favors, prizes, and decorations. The big day will be here before you know it.

 Two or Three Days Ahead: Double-check the final guest list and make a tentative schedule for what you'll be doing at the party.  Shop for the food.

The Day Before the Party:   Decorate for your party.  Start early, as this always takes longer than you expect.  Same with the food.  Anything you can do ahead now will make the day of the party much more fun for everyone!


Decorating

Did you know?
  • We have a variety of beautiful candles, including Valentine tapers, as well  as white, ivory, red, pink
  • We have the Wilton Products for Valentine's Day?
  • We have trays,
  • We have scented candles
  • We have decorative glass votive candle holders
  • We have a variety Valentine cello bags
  • Lots of small goodies for kids
  • We have a good selection of salt and pepper shakers.
  • We have beautiful Valentine lanterns in various sizes
  • We have Valentine treat boxes
  • We have Valentine Baking Cups
  • We have Valentine picks
  • We have snack servers
And that's just a sample of what we carry!  Be sure to come in to see it all! Here are some photos to whet your appetite!
 





















We also have a LARGE selection of Balloons!








Valentine's Day Recipes

White Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries

Servings: 6

Comments:
In the United States sweet juicy strawberries are at their peak from April through June, but you will find big beautiful strawberries also around Valentine's Day in the supermarkets as strawberries are cultivated all year round and farmers always make them available for consumers during this very romantic time. If for some reason you can't find fresh strawberries in your local supermarket, frozen strawberries may be used in this recipes. You may substitute two (10-ounce) cans frozen strawberries for the 2 cups fresh strawberries.

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh strawberries, stems removed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. kirsch (clear cherry brandy) or framboise (raspberry liqueur)
6 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup milk, warmed
1 cup heavy cream
2 egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:
In a blender or in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine 1 1/2 cups of the strawberries with the sugar. Puree until smooth.

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Add the kirsch and stir to mix. Cut the remaining 1/2 cup strawberries lengthwise into thin slices and stir into the puree. Set aside.

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water; do not allow the bowl to touch the water. Heat the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until it is melted and smooth and registers 140°F on an instant-read thermometer. Gradually add the warm milk to the chocolate, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan of water and let the mixture cool until it is almost at room temperature.

In a bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the cream just until soft peaks form. In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold half of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold the remaining whites, whipped cream and vanilla into the chocolate mixture just until combined and no white drifts remain. Do not overmix. (At this point, you may cover and refrigerate the mousse for up to 1 day).

To serve, spoon about half of the mousse into 6 parfait glasses, half filling each glass. Top with the strawberry sauce, again using about half and dividing it equally. Repeat with the remaining mousse and strawberry sauce.

Makes 6 servings.

 

Valentine’s Day Salad

It’s Valentine’s day, and you’ll be wanting to make your special someone something not only delicious but packed full of aphrodisiacs. Strawberries, avocado and almonds are all said to be aphrodisiacs and this Valentine’s day salad has all three to make your loved one feel all warm and tingly inside, which is just what you want on Valentine’s day.

To begin, slice some strawberries and lay them on a plate, next make the dressing, mix together a good tablespoon of brown sugar together with about a table spoon of Balsamic vinegar and a little black pepper. Drizzle this over the strawberries and leave in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the salad.

You need to peel and remove the pit from a ripe avocado, then chop the flesh into bite-size pieces. On a serving plate or suitable bowl make a bed of Rocket leaves, on top of this place the sliced strawberries and chopped avocado. Finally sprinkle a few whole almonds around.

Enjoy!


Pomegranate Duck with Herbed Whole-Wheat Couscous

Pomegranate Duck

Ingredients

1 pound(s) boneless duck breast, skin removed

1/2 teaspoon(s) kosher salt

2 teaspoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil

1  small shallot, finely chopped

1 cup(s) pomegranate juice

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

1/4 cup(s) reduced-sodium chicken broth

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Sprinkle duck with salt. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the duck and cook until browned on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the duck to a small baking dish and roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 150 degrees F, 8 to 12 minutes for medium, depending on the size of the breast. Transfer to a cutting board; let rest 5 minutes.

While the duck is roasting, return the pan to medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add pomegranate juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir broth and cornstarch in a small bowl until the cornstarch dissolves. Add to the pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. When the duck has finished resting, pour any accumulated juices into the sauce and stir to combine.

Thinly slice the duck; serve topped with the pomegranate sauce. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Herbed Whole-Wheat Couscous

 Ingredients

3/4 cup(s) reduced-sodium chicken broth

2  scallions, sliced

2 tablespoon(s) chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup(s) whole-wheat couscous

Directions

1.   Bring broth, scallions and parsley to a boil in a small saucepan. Add couscous, return to a simmer, cover and remove from the heat. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.


Valentine's DayFun for Kids

Paper Conversation Heart Wreath

What you'll need:


  • 9" dinner plate or paper plate
  • Recycled cereal box or other thin cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Heart Pattern (mom can make)
  • Construction Paper: Pink, red, purple
  • Markers, crayons or paint pens.
  • Glue Sticks
  • Yarn or string for hanger.
How to make it:

Trace around the 9" plate onto the cardboard.

 Use your pen or pencil to draw another circle inside that one, about an inch away from the outside circle.

Cut out the circle and the center of the circle to create a cardboard wreath base.

Fold a piece of scrap paper in half. Make a heart pattern and line up the fold line of the scrap paper with the dotted line of the pattern. Cut out the shape so that when you open it, you have a heart shape.

Fold the short end of a piece of construction paper up about 3 inches. Place the folded heart around the folded paper and trace the half heart shape into the paper. You should be able to fit three hearts on the paper. Repeat this step for each colored piece of paper; you will have a total of 12 hearts.

Cut out all the hearts and flatten out the creases so that the hearts lay flat. Using markers, crayons, or paint pens, write conversation candy phrases on the hearts such as "LOVE", "HUBBA HUBBA", "SWEET", "LOVE", "BE MINE", "KISS" and "PAL".

Arrange your hearts on top of the cardboard wreath shape without gluing them down. Once you have them where you want them, use the glue stick to attach each one

You can hang the wreath as is or attach a piece of looped yarn to the back as a hanger.

Tips:

1.   Paint pens are available from your local craft supply store. 

2.   Instead of construction paper, you can use colorful cardstock for this project.

3.   Construction paper provides hours of fun and stimulates your child's imagination!

Valentine's Goodie Bags

We have LOTS of goodie bag ideas!  And, we're always adding more.  Stop by our stores to see it all