The box is essential for Valentine’s Day.

The heart-shaped box of delectable chocolates nestled in pleated paper to share or savor alone.

The tiny, square box holding a precious ring linked to a nervous question and a simple promise.

And today, the Amazon box on the porch linking hearts and souls from different zip codes.

Do you remember decorating shoe boxes for Valentine’s Day? Oh, the delicate, white doilies and jagged paper hearts in all the shades of pink and red slathered with Elmer’s glue and speckled with clumps of silver glitter. A parade snaking through classroom desks to show off the masterpieces preceded the distribution and reception of the Valentine offerings. The best part of the Valentine’s Day School Party (besides the heart-shaped cookies dripping with icing) was that every student’s name was carefully handwritten on each envelope. All were included. We celebrated friendship through whimsical store bought or handmade affirmations. No one was pledged to marriage. Everyone left school that day puffed up with connection to each other.

When I found my true love, Valentine’s Day took a curly-q swerve into the romantic lane. For thirty-six years, my husband and I have relished the cliché rituals from weekend getaways to candlelit restaurant dinners to movie nights snuggled on the couch. Our Valentine cards have run the spectrum to include ridiculous frisky propositions and romantic tear-worthy sentiments of devotion. February 14th is the only day of the year that we exchange cards. This day of kisses, flowers, and candy reminds us of our connection to each other.

As a mom, the holiday ballooned into a creative season for family. My two sons crafted Valentines for their grandparents. We showed our love for each other on that day through words, time together, fun gifts, and Valentines. I also taught my boys about God’s love – unconditional and extended to those who feel unlovable. Valentine’s Day was an opportunity to focus on each unique family member and share our connection to each other.

Holidays allow me to reach into my hospitality apron pockets for all the elements that bring a themed gathering to life. No food can escape being fashioned into a heart in my kitchen. Over the years, I’ve served heart-shaped meatloaf, meatballs, pizza, pancakes, bread, cheese, strawberries, cucumbers, brownies, cake, pie crust, and the obligatory cookie. (Heart shapes are easy, and cookie cutters are your best friends for food and other heart projects.) I’ve also bought heart-shaped pasta and folded cloth napkins into roses. Because red is my favorite color, table settings pop with red dinnerware.

I love creating an inviting space, whether extravagant or pedestrian, because I want all who sit at my table to experience connection to each other.

Besides the boxes that hold Valentine gifts, there are Valentine boxes that hold us. Sometimes we love our box. Sometimes we long for a different box. The marketplace sells Valentine’s Day to couples. Think of all the advertisements for jewelry that shun those who do not fit their lovey-dovey demographic in the Romance Box.

But I say climb on top of the Friendship Box, and shout that you are throwing a Valentine’s Day party. Invite the people you love. Get crazy in the kitchen and concoct hearts out of Sushi and chocolate cups filled with raspberry mousse. Or cut hearts out of grilled cheese sandwiches and red Jell-O. (There is no shame in entertaining with simple foods as long as they taste great, present well, and support the theme.) Google Valentine games. Find party inspiration on Pinterest. Create thoughtful Valentines that express why each person attending is special to you.

Valentine’s Day boxes come in all shapes and sizes and serve a variety of purposes. Find the box that fits, and spend time with people who need to inhabit the warm glow of connection to each other.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day Quotes and Messages 

Rose Napkin Fold Video