Happy Valentine’s Day season, I guess! Valentine’s Day falls into one of my favorite holiday subcategories: a Snack Holiday. A Snack Holiday is almost a normal day, except there are themed snack foods. Snack Holidays don’t require gift exchanges or elaborate meals, which are entirely optional. Other Snack Holidays include Halloween, Fat Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day, and maybe Lincoln’s Birthday if you swing it right. Snack Holidays are closely related to, and sometimes overlap with, drinking holidays: Mardis Gras (Fat Tuesday + booze), Independence Day, St. Patrick’s Day. I love them all!
You may be thinking that Valentine’s Day is NOT a Snack Holiday because presents and fancy meals are obligatory. However, except for a few couples I know, most people leave these big celebrations behind in their early twenties. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s actually pretty great being single on Valentine’s Day in your late 20s. Most of your friends who are dating, engaged, or married have been together so long that they aren’t into big, amateurish displays of affection. Most of them are spending the holiday ordering a pizza and seeing if there’s anything good on Netflix. Yes, except for a brief interlude from the ages of, say, 15 to 25, V-Day is a Snack Holiday we can all enjoy.
For those of us who grew up in the 90s, our concept of Valentine’s Day as a Snack Holiday was established in our classroom parties. So in this holiday edition of Let’s All Decorate, let’s take it back and decorate that classroom, why don’t we?
In the height of the Beanie Baby craze, there’s a good chance your teacher displayed seasonal Beanies on her crowded desk, probably next to the cold cup of teacher’s lounge coffee. It was one of the few attempts at teacher coolness that actually sort of worked, except that you gave her a bit of side-eye for displaying a “rare” holiday Beanie Baby on her desk without a tag protector or clear plastic coffin.
I’m going to go ahead and call this the most highly-anticipated busywork of the year. Sometime before your Valentine party, the teacher would bust out a stash of shoeboxes she had saved from every pair of sneakers, loafers and boots that she, her husband, and her children had bought for the past year. “Wasn’t it nice of her to save those JUST FOR YOU?”… Is a thought that never occurred to me as a child because children are selfish little dirtbags. You would cover the shoebox in plain paper, then decorate with stickers, crayons, and if your teacher was exceptionally chill about classroom mess, some glitter.
The mailboxes served a triple purpose of keeping the Valentines neater than they’d have been in a pile on your desk, concealing who received which Valentine (although you had to give one to every kid, so whatever), and filling up a solid half hour of post-lunch time on a day when kids are bouncing off the walls.
Note: if your teacher’s children didn’t go through as many shoes that year, you may have decorated manila envelopes that you taped off the edge of your desk, instead.
Sounds really specific, right? But these were actually universal as chicken pox (Stuff 90s Kids Remember: Chicken Pox). Things have gone more high-tech now, but back in the day teachers used to spend a ton of time cutting out construction paper shapes and writing all of the kids’ names on them. How do I know? My mom was a teacher in my school… and she outsourced a lot of it to me. I stapled a whole lot of solid construction paper backgrounds and bulletin board borders in my youth.
For teachers’ sake, I shudder to think what the Pinterest Industrial Complex has done to V-Day bulletin boards.
A tree made out of hearts, a bee made out of hearts; a dog made out of hearts, a frog made out of hearts; a wiggly heart-shaped creature made out of hearts. The heart is a versatile shape, and nobody knew that quite like the elementary school teachers of the 90s. There was probably a wall somewhere during that party that was decorated with the childrens’ heart-shaped crafts. Gotta develop those fine motor skills!
Yet another example of letting the kids decorate for their own darn party, if it was Valentine’s Day, and it was 1993, and you were 7, there’s an excellent possibility that these were hanging in your window filtering those February afternoon sunbeams.
TREATS TREATS TREATS TREATS
The above “treats” should be read like the thumping bass of EDM music, because when we were children, Valentine’s Day treats were our molly (although I’ve always really been my own Molly). Favorite V-Day treats in the 90s included, but were not limited to:
- Rice Krispy Treats with heart-shaped sprinkles in them – OR cut into the shape of hearts if the mom making them didn’t’ mind waste.
- Jell-o Jigglers shaped like hearts, because Bill Cosby meant something different to us then.
- Heart-shaped Little Debbie “snack cakes” which were the same as the Christmas-tree shaped ones you had two months before, except that I always suspected that the heart ones were a tad bigger.
- Sticky, gummy heart-shaped brownies, also from your friends at Little Debbie, courtesy of a kid whose parents didn’t have time to make anything.
- Punch made with fruit juice, Sprite, and sherbet, especially if the party was right at the end of the day and the teacher wouldn’t have to deal with you much longer.
- Candy Hearts. Obviously.
This is where you let your interests fly – and Kid Code required that you act cool about what the other kids handed out, not making fun of the kid who picked a movie nobody had liked for two years. A few favorites: