Moms

Homemade gifts kids can give their valentines

We heart Valentine's Day, a holiday dedicated to love -- and candy. Here are some quick, inexpensive gifts to make with the kids this weekend in anticipation of class parties and visits to Grandma.

For a posse of girlfriends: Candy jewelry

If your daughter wants to give her BFFs a little something special, whip up these super-simple candy necklaces or bracelets, based on an idea we found on FamilyFun.com.

You will need:

Plastic wrap

Scissors

Wrapped candies of your choice (We used Hershey's Kisses for a bracelet and Brach's peppermint Valentine Nougats for a necklace.)

Decorative ribbon (found at Michaels)

1. Cut the plastic wrap to the desired length (hold it up to see about how much you will need for a necklace or bracelet), then cut it in half to reduce the width.

2. Lay candies about an inch apart inside the wrap. Note: We prefer wrapped candies, which may be more of a challenge to wrap, but which seem like good choice in cold and flu season. Fold the wrap in half so the candies are in a kind of tube.

3. Starting at one end, tie a 4-inch length of ribbon around each side of the candy to secure it in place.

4. Tie the two ends together to form the necklace/bracelet. Add more ribbon to this closure if desired. Trim excess ribbon to make your project look neat.

For kids who like to play with their food: Candy airplanes

Ask your valentine "What's up?" with this project, also based on an idea on FamilyFun.com.

You will need:

Stick of gum (Juicy Fruit comes in a stick form and has a nice silver wrapper to work with.)

Red marker

White self-adhesive address labels

Red construction paper

Scissors

Package of Life Savers Wint-O-Green candies, individually wrapped

Rubber band

Roll of Smarties

1. To decorate the wing: Write "What's Up, Valentine?" (or draw hearts or your message of choice) on an address label, making sure that the space used is small enough to fit on the stick of gum. Cut the message out, then stick it on a piece of red construction paper. Cut the red paper to make a narrow border for your message.

2. Using a clean toothpick, gently punch a hole through the middle of one wrapped Life Saver (it's easier to use unwrapped candy, but for hygiene's sake, you might want the wrapped candies). Thread one end of the rubber band through the hole. Do the same thing with a second Life Saver, so now your two candies are connected with the rubber band through each.

3. Balance the Smarties on top of the rubber band between the two Life Saver "wheels."

4. Carefully position the gum and message on top, perpendicular to the Smarties, and wrap the ends of the rubber band up over the gum once or twice to secure.

A gift for Grandma or a teacher: A pretty plant

We adapted this idea from one we found on MarthaStewart.com. Gift a plant with a colorful flower, or, for a cook, try rosemary or basil.

You will need:

Two brown lunch sacks

Flowered plant or herb in plastic pot that fits inside sack

Scissors

Ribbon

X-Acto knife and cutting board (for adult use only)

Sheet of craft foam

Markers, for decorating

Stapler

Craft glue

Tissue paper (optional)

1. Hold the sack up to the plant and cut the bag just a bit higher than the rim of the plant's plastic pot.

2. Cut the other sack to the same size.

3. One sack will go inside the other. First, decide which will be the outside bag. Measure your ribbon's width and, using the X-Acto and cutting board (adults only!), carefully cut four vertical slits on the front of the bag, each just a bit wider than the ribbon. The slits should be at the same height from the bottom of the bag. Do not cut beyond the one layer of paper into the back of the bag. Then, on the back of the bag, make two more slits at the same level. Thread your ribbon in and out through the slits, with the ends going into the slits in the back. Put the second bag inside the "outside" bag. Cut a piece of craft foam a little smaller than the bottom of the bag and place it inside the bags so your plant will have a secure surface to rest on.

4. Put the plant inside the double-bag, then fold the edges of the double-bag downward and inward, so you can see the entire plant. Remove plant.

5. Decorate the outside of the double-bag with markers if desired.

6. Cut a length of ribbon for the handle. Staple each end along the inside of each side of the bag.

7. Put the plant back in the bag. Glue the woven ribbon in place to secure it, if necessary. Add tissue paper to line the bag if you want a little more decorative color.

For mom or someone special: A heart necklace

You will need:

Sculpey polymer clay in color of your choice (found at craft store)

Wax paper

Clay rolling pin (optional)

Cookie cutter or toothpick and X-Acto knife (and cutting board)

Glaze for polymer clay (found at craft store)

Small paintbrush

Ribbon or cord for necklace

Scissors

1. Warm up the clay by molding it in your hands.

2. Set a lump of clay on the wax paper. Roll or flatten to about 1/4 inch thick. You can flatten it by hand if you want, but using a rolling pin is much easier.

3. Use the cookie cutter to cut out a heart shape, or use a toothpick to trace a heart shape on the clay's surface. We like the irregularity of a freeform heart. If using a toothpick, have an adult then carefully cut the shape with an X-Acto knife after placing the heart on a cutting board.

Note: If you want to add a "hugs and kisses" message, find a newspaper headline with the same size "x"s and "o"s. Place the letters on top of the heart's surface and gently but firmly use the rolling pin to transfer the ink in the letters to your clay.

4. Use a toothpick or other tool to cut a hole in the heart through which you will attach the cord.

5. Bake according to directions on the clay package -- about 15 minutes at 275 degrees if the clay is 1/4 inch thick.

6. Let cool.

7. Brush on a layer of glaze and let dry.

8. Thread the ribbon or cord through the hole in the clay heart to create a necklace. Trim if necessary.

CATHERINE MALLETTE, 817-390-7828

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