After years and years of trying to do homemade valentines with my children, I have finally settled on shortcuts. We love making valentines. We love cutting out hearts. We love getting messy with glue and glitter, and I love encouraging my kids to give gifts/cards that are personal and thoughtful.
Cute, Easy & “Homemade”: DIY Class Valentine’s, Craft & Treat Ideas
But, HELLLLLLOOOO! There are 30 kids in EACH of my kid’s classes, and my kids lose complete interest after making the first six cards (actually…most of the time they lose interest after the first two)! I have learned over the years that 60 homemade valentines is not feasible (or in any way enjoyable) for my family. Even still, I can’t let go of my desire to do something a little bit homemade or a little bit personal for this holiday (I blame my super-crafty and creative mother for getting into my head). If done right, it’s also such a fun activity with the kiddos. Enter…the shortcuts (updated for 2020; for last year’s post, go here).
(“U Rock” image photo credit: Tinkerlab.com | “Crayon Heart” photo credit: Momdot.com)
1. Paper Source Valentine’s Day Craft Kits: My Personal Favorite Shortcut
I discovered this a couple of years ago. Paper Source makes awesome Valentine Kits that are easy and fast, but still give the kids just enough room for creativity that it’s not a chore (and they still feel a little bit personalized.) I’m not usually a fan of kits, but when you’re making 60 valentines, I think this is the way to go! I make hot chocolate (we try not to spill on the materials), and we have a little family valentine-making party. I put together a few of the valentines, the kids make most of them, and then their dad sits down and spends an hour making just one (he’s the slow, slow, slow creator in our family). The kids write some names on them and we’re done. I especially like the ones that give room to be silly with the designs…makes it super-fun as a family activity. Upside down mouths used as eyebrows, sunglasses used as bowties, one googly eye instead of two to make a one-eyed monster…keeps things interesting.
2. The Photocopier, Stickers & Stamps: My 3 HEROES of the “Homemade” Valentine
Another way we’ve done homemade valentines is getting out tons of stickers, a few stamps (because stickers and stamps are much faster AND easier than drawing, painting or cutting out a million hearts), pre-folded cards and envelopes, and I let the kids go to town. I have them write a message (ONCE!!!) and then I photocopy their message and signature, and we glue dot it into the card. Done.
3. A TREAT: What The Kids In The Class REALLY Want
If your school allows it, forget the Valentine’s Day card and send in a treat wrapped in a cute bag instead. It’s really what the kids ACTUALLY want, right? I try to limit the sugar my kids get day-to-day, but I’m a total sucker for sugary holiday treats, sugary special occasion treats, sugary random surprise treats…hmmm…did I really say I try to limit sugar? Rice Krispie Treats or Chocolate Covered Pretzels are my usual go-to because Rice Krispie Treats are fast and easy, and chocolate covered pretzels are fun to make with the kids’ help. Or…have the kids help you put something store-bought (maybe something NOT sugary) into a cute bag and call it a day. Use that photocopier again to make a little note with their photocopied handwritten “Happy Valentine’s Day!” and photocopied signature. Has been so much easier for us than writing the same exact thing over and over and over and over 30 times! Attach the note to a treat bag with glue dots or punch a hole in the note and tie it with ribbon.
4. Easy Sustainable Options: Down With The V-Day Plastic Junk
If you’re trying to avoid adding to the plastic junk and plastic wrappers that will be coming home with most children this Valentine’s Day, YAY YOU! There are some lovely plantable hearts available on Etsy, as well as Amazon that you could add to a cute card explaining how to put them to use. Another option is melting down ALL those leftover unused crayon bits to make cute new heart-shaped crayons. We’ve used these silicone heart molds for melting crayons and they work great. What about You-Rock Valentines? Tinkerlab has SO many creative valentine ideas. I have to be honest–I don’t know that I would send my kiddo to school with a bag of rocks to distribute (when everyone else is giving out chocolate), but it IS a VERY creative idea. Another easy option is sending candy that comes in recyclable or compostable cardboard instead of plastic (like these junior mints). Maybe decorate bookmarks made out of eco-friendly materials? I’m leaning toward making a treat and packaging it in compostable bags with bio-degradable ribbon.
I want to give some serious kudos to those of you who can pull off ACTUAL old-school homemade valentines. I have a good friend who does it, and I SO look forward each year to seeing their card in my little one’s bag. They are adorable and personal and creative, but I do know that they start early and enlist a bit of grandmother help as well. Maybe that’s the key. Mom! Just think of what my kids could be doing if you moved to Philly! Hint, hint, hint.
Happy Valentine’s Day! And PLEASE let me know what other shortcuts you guys have for cute valentines, as well as more eco-friendly options! Always so happy to hear your ideas.