First you have to decide how many you want to invite, realizing that larger parties take more planning and work. I prefer 6-8 people, including a couple of children who are age 7 or 8. You will need to pick a time convenient to those who work outside the home – an evening party or on a Saturday afternoon.
DECORATIONS: Keep your decorations simple. I used a red tablecloth made out of a curtain I was no longer using. If you want a touch of fresh flowers, put two or three red carnations in a bud vase. See, I said keep it simple. My meal was served buffet style from the decorated table and everyone served themselves. I didn’t want a lot of other things in the way, but if you want a nice fragrance in the room besides the food cooking, you might put out a red candle or two by the carnations at the back of the table. I like a card table for the buffet table because the simple fare looks big. You can bring out your best china or you can buy some paper napkins, bowls and utensils that have a valentine theme. I prefer disposable paper products because using them makes clean up quick and easy.
FOOD TO SERVE: Cook a large pot of spaghetti and meat sauce – that will start your color theme of red for Valentine’s Day. Plug in your crock pot and fill it from the large pot, refilling it as needed so that your food is always warm. Put a ladle in the crock pot for a self-service buffet. Prepare garlic bread so that all you have to do as company begins to arrive is to put the bread in the oven. While your spaghetti is cooking, get out your big wooden salad bowl with the wooden salad tongs and mix up a simple salad. Use whatever greens you like – I like spinach or spring mix and tomatoes, red onions, maybe some raisins or mandarin orange slices. If you put the tomatoes in last,and let them stay on top of the salad, you will continue your red color theme. Set out a jar of Marie’s Creamy Ranch Dressing with a serving spoon. Set the salad bowl next to the crock pot. No dessert is necessary, but you might want to set out a dish of those little heart mints on the buffet table.
SETTING UP TABLES AND CHAIRS: I borrowed folding chairs from the church and folding game tables from friends. Because I have found that most people don’t like to eat standing, I put cloths on the tables so that the guests could sit after they served themselves from the buffet table. The table cloths can be decorated paper. When your guests are finished eating, whip off the cloths and put them in the trash so that fun and games can begin.
GAMES TO PLAY: The game I suggest today was not available when I hosted my Valentine party. It is called “Mexican Train” and is played with “Double Twelve Dominoes”. Since any number can play this game, get a couple of the fellows to help put the tables together so all can play. You will need to be familiar with the “how to play” so that you can teach your guests. Even children 8 years of age enjoy this game. My great-granddaughter is 8 and she loved playing. So there you have it – a simple and inexpensive Valentine party which should be enjoyed by all, even the hostess.