It’s time to start thinking about Valentine’s Day! Soon your kids will receive instructions from their teachers to bring in a valentine for each member of the class, and chances are that they’ll also want to give something to you, their grandparents or their neighbors. If you’re crunched for time, you can always stop by the dollar store or a big box store and pick up a box of 25 valentines, but it’s still early enough in the game to set aside some time to make homemade valentines with your children. All of these can be made in an afternoon, and are a great way to bond on a snowy, cold day.
This time of year, you can often find disposable heart mini-cupcake pans. If not, consider investing in a heart-shaped silicone mold… you can certainly use them any time of year to express your love! Most of us have a good supply of broken, worn out crayons. Put the kids to work peeling and breaking them into pieces about an inch long. Separate by color, and fill each heart in your pan about halfway full. When we did this, we put pinks and reds together, and also blues and purples, and yellows and greens. You mix the colors however you’d like. Set the oven to 250 or so, and leave them in there as long as the crayons take to melt; ours took about 20 minutes, but your mileage will vary based on the size of the crayon chunks and the size of your hearts! Wait for them to cool and pop them out.
Most kids love stamping, but there’s no need to buy a special set for homemade valentines. You can use different items from around the house to make heart-shaped stamps for your kids to decorate unlined index cards, and to hand out as valentines. Try carving a tiny heart into a pencil eraser, or a larger heart out of half a potato. Dip in paint or onto an ink pad and let them stamp away. They can also make hearts out of their fingerprints by making two prints that touch at the bottom and angle away from each other toward the top. Have them write a valentine’s day message with a sparkly gel pen, and each child will have a one-of-a-kind valentine in their envelope or box.
If your kids prefer free-form art, try this: Cut heart shapes out of poster board, and supply them with a pile of various collage items. Some possibilities include tissue paper, construction paper, magazines, wallpaper samples, paint chips, sequins, miniature pompoms, yarn, buttons… the list is endless. Give them scissors and glue, too. You may need to give some direction, as too much glue or too many heavier items will just make a big mess. Let them be creative and create a unique masterpiece for each child in the class.
Older children might enjoy making sachets for neighbors and grandparents. For each sachet, have them cut out two heart shapes out of red or pink fabric. Place the right sides together, and have them stitch around most of the perimeter, leaving a small section unattached, so that they can flip them right-side-out and stuff with lavender or dried potpourri, then stitch closed. Before sewing the two hearts together, they can decorate the right sides with rickrack, lace, or ribbon, if desired. The loved recipient can place the sachets in a drawer or closet.
By looking around your home, you can probably come up with other ways your kids can express their affection for their friends and family with homemade cards and gifts without spending a lot of money.