Valentine's Day has grown into a huge commercial holiday. My family is fairly burned out by the parade of holidays and celebrations — Thanksgiving, Christmas, Dia de Los Reyes, and Chinese New Year — by the time Valentine's Day arrives. How much more chocolate can and should a person consume? Do we really need or benefit from all of the gifts we've been given?

To settle things down, we opted long ago to celebrate the day quietly, focused on that special family time our kids and we adore and hunger for. With four kids in our house and a busy schedule, one-on-one time (dates) and family time is precious and a priority. For that reason we make it a point to express our love by creating special allotted time with each child. Perhaps you're thinking along the same lines of what you can do to make Valentine's Day special for your child. Here are some "date" ideas that we've discovered to be well-received by children of a wide range of ages.

Eat lunch with your child at school.

Go through the lunch line with your child and eat at his table if he is still at an age where he doesn't mind being seen with you in front of his friends. Or bring in a special meal he loves (with school approval) for both of you to enjoy.

Visit the library or bookstore.

One of my daughters is a voracious reader. A perfect date for her is time in the library or bookstore. Try to find a bookstore with reading seats if this is what your child chooses, so that you can read, discover, and share.

Go for a nature walk.

I have observed that the kids I return home with after a long walk or hike are far different from the ones I left the house with. They are relaxed, centered, open, and connected. Drive or bike to a nature area if something isn't close by. Don't forget your camera.

Bake heart-shaped cookies.

My kids love to bake in the kitchen with me. The hands-down favorite is the family iced sugar cookie recipe. The kitchen is a mess, the cookies are adorable, and the kids have a terrific time with each other and me. And there is dessert for our special Valentine's Day dinner!

Prepare and enjoy a special dinner together.

Children can combine their favorites with those of their parents. Kids can organize, wash, and measure ingredients. If old and skilled enough, children can help cut and cook some of the meal.

Whatever you decide to do, one-on-one time with the kids will let them know how special they are to you and bring you all a bit closer.