This year, Valentine’s Day happened to fall on my usual program night, but I was hesitant to offer a teen Valentine’s Day party because I didn’t want the teens to feel like they were only welcome if they were in a relationship. Then again, I’ve read enough stories of librarians facing backlash for anti-Valentine’s Day parties to be wary of those too. Of course, I could have done a program that had nothing to do with February 14, but as I was turning ideas over in my head, a thought struck me: Why not have a program celebrating friendship and self-love? And so my Pal-Entine’s Day Party was born. Although I did this on February 14, you could adapt it for Friendship Day (August 6 in the US), or just anytime you want to have a program that encourages teens to think of themselves and their friends in positive terms. After all, friendship is something we should celebrate all the time, right? Not only was my Pal-Entine’s celebration a big draw (in spite of a school dance that night!), the cost was minimal and the teens are already asking to do it again.
Here’s what we did for our celebration of friendship:
Friendship bracelets: My teens are embracing this ‘80s phenomenon, and it can be done on the super cheap. I set out various colors of embroidery floss that we already had in our craft stash, some tape to secure those bracelets to the table during construction, and let the teens have at it.
Coloring Station: It always amazes me how much my teens enjoy kicking back with a coloring sheet and colored pencils, and tons of designs are free online. I keep them in my teen room as a passive programming staple, but the coloring station at our Pal-Entine’s Party was very popular as well.
Books of Awesome: I first learned about this clever craft at Teen Think Tank in Ohio. It’s time-consuming, but the end result is pretty fabulous and the teens can get very creative with it! For each participant, you need:
- A deck of playing cards (I got these at the dollar store for $.50 each)
- A hole punch
- 52 blank sticky address labels
- String or ribbon for binding
Have the teens write one awesome thing about themselves or a friend on each of their address labels, then stick a label on each card. Punch two holes down the left side of each card and bind them together with string or ribbon for a great friendship keepsake.
Chocolate fondue: This was the most expensive part of this program, but I didn’t feel like our celebration would be complete without a little chocolate. I used a big bag of milk chocolate chips, melted in a slow cooker with a bit of half-and-half for consistency, and offered strawberries and Oreo cookies to dip in it. You could get elaborate with different types of chocolate or a wider variety of things to dip, or skip it entirely if you need to cut costs. As a bonus, the smell of yummy, melty chocolate was everywhere in our youth and teen area that day, and it drew in several teens who hadn’t signed up!
Overall, our celebration of friendship was successful, fun, and inexpensive. A win for everyone!