This Valentine's Day, craft your own lovely cards
Pass on ready-made valentines in favor of these alternatives with a handmade touch
This February, put a little extra love into your kids' valentines and venture beyond store-bought cards. Fort Worth-based Sally Carns Gulde, mom of three and owner of Grey Finch Design, created these fun and easy-to-make versions perfect for any classroom. They have a lot of heart and are sure to make this Valentine's Day the sweetest one ever.
"I like you hairy much"
Cute enough to make any heart skip a beat. We cut out mustaches from sheets of felt and attached them to lollipops so that when a child eats the lollipop, it looks the kid has a mustache! Print a photo of your child with the mustache-pop onto card stock for a personal touch, or simply decorate card stock with a colorful message.
9-by-12-inch sheet of black stiffened felt ($1/sheet at Michaels)
1/8-inch hole punch
Photo of your child with a mustache (optional)
Glue or stapler
1. Draw a mustache on the paper and cut it out. This will be your template.
2. Use the template to cut out several felt mustaches.
3. Punch a hole in the center of each mustache and insert a lollipop.
4. Option A: Print out our PDF for this project.
Option B: Use crayons to decorate the card stock to say, "I like you hairy much!" You can also print a picture of your child on the card stock.
5. Fold the card stock so that it looks like a tent -- a long rectangle in the middle and both ends folded up to meet at the top. Glue or staple it closed. Push the stick of the lollipop through the front of the card.
Try not to mention the word "love" too many times. It can make kids a little queasy, especially in the elementary years.
If you're going to do candy, why not offer a healthier version? YummyEarth lollipops are organic and even have a little carrot juice mixed in. Available at Sprouts grocery stores.
"I love you sew much"
This valentine doubles as a fun activity. We used basic craft supplies to make a Valentine's Day version of a lacing card.
Red and white construction paper
A red crayon
A screw punch
Red and white kitchen twine (available at most grocery stores)
1. Glue a smaller sheet of white construction paper onto a larger piece of red construction paper.
2. On the white paper, use your crayon to draw a heart in the center and the message "I love you sew much."
3. Punch holes around the heart.
4. Cut a length of twine and wrap tape around the edges, like a shoelace. Lace the twine through the holes.
For extra durability, laminate the lacing card to ensure that it will hold up well past the holiday.
For anyone who appreciates a game of tic-tac-toe, here's candy and a toy combined. We filled treat sacks with Valentine's M&M'S that double as game pieces.
Valentine's Day M&M'S
Red permanent marker
Blank 5-by-7-inch index cards
XOXO treat sacks (available at Michael's)
1. Have your child sort the M&M'S into like colors.
2. Option A: Download our tic-tac-toe PDF grid.
Option B: Use the marker to draw a grid on an index card. On the bottom of each card, write "XOXO" followed by your child's name. Place the card in a bag.
3. Place at least 20 M&M'S into the treat sack (10 for playing, the rest for eating). Be sure to have equal numbers of two colors, so there are enough of each color to play.
4. Tie the bag with ribbon.
Pink is great, but if you're making the same valentine for an entire classroom of kids, consider using a bold red and white scheme to make the valentine a bit more gender-neutral.
For a noncandy option, small red and white erasers can stand in for M&M'S.
"Valentine, you're all write"
Instead of giving candy, consider a small, practical gift, like pencils. Here, the tag doubles as a bookmark. Use Valentine's Day-themed pencils or, for a more personal touch, customize pencils with messages like "I love science," or "I love [child's school]." The pencils are available at www.forteachersonly.com, 3 for 89 cents. We ordered ours on a Sunday and received them Wednesday.
Crayons, markers, decorations (optional)
Ribbon ($1 for 3 yards in the dollar section of Target)
Valentine's Day-themed pencils
1. Option A: Cut rectangles from the card stock and decorate bookmarks with messages like, "Valentine, you're all write," or "If lovin' school is wrong, I don't want to be write."
Option B: Use a computer program to design your bookmark, or download our PDF. Print the design on card stock and cut out bookmarks.
2. Punch a hole at the top of each bookmark and sign it. For a more polished look, use a corner-rounder for curved edges.
3. Thread ribbon through the hole in the bookmark and tie the ribbon around 3 pencils, securing with a bow.
Use clear tape to bind the pencils together before tying them to the ribbon and bookmark.
"You make my heart bounce!"
Cut the candy and give a bouncy ball instead. Place balls in sandwich bags and staple each bag to a folded piece of card stock adorned with sweet handwritten sentiments. We used Pinky High-Bounce balls, available for $1 each from Dollar Tree, but you can also find smaller bouncy balls at Target (four for $1 in the dollar section) or at any party-supply store.
5-by-7-inch card stock
Markers or crayons
Clear sandwich bags
1. Option A: Print a message onto card stock using our PDF. Sign with the child's name.
Option B: Decorate card stock with markers. Ideas for the message include "You make my heart bounce!" or "This Valentine's Day, have a ball!" Sign with the child's name.
2. Place a ball in a plastic bag. Fold the card stock in half and staple it to the bag.
Forget about writing "To" on your children's valentines. It makes it harder for the teacher to pass them out, and it's more work for you! Simply sign "From Francis," or "XOXO, George."
Tools like a bone folder or a scoring board are great for making perfect, even folds in your card stock.