Valentine’s Day used to catch me off-guard. After the madness of the holiday season, I’d spend January recovering from festive giving. Eventually, February 13 would roll around and I’d receive an email from my kid’s teacher about a Valentine’s Day party, and I’d find myself rushing out to pick up SpongeBob cards at 9pm.
I did this many times, and I deeply believe there is no shame in that game. However, one magical year, I did a V-Day project ahead of time with my son, and we actually enjoyed the experience. It’s a low-pressure holiday (for kids, anyway…) and my son discovered that surprising his classmates with an atypical Valentine was an unexpected source of joy. Since then, I try to make creative and fun Valentines with my kids every year.
No need to get fancy or crazy, though. Below are some of my favorite alternatives to the paper Valentine, all of which are kid-friendly, beginner-level projects:
Everyone seems to have large quantities of broken up crayons at the bottom of the family art box. This project lets you clean those out of your supply closet AND make a cool Valentine. All you need is a heart-shaped cookie sheet or silicone pan. I preferred the cookie sheet, as it had all different shapes, a few words inscribed, and the cuts were a little more shallow.
I know this may seem overwhelming, but here are the steps: 1) Peel off the wrappers and break up crayons into smaller pieces; put them in the cookie sheet compartments, mixing colors 2) melt the crayons in the oven on low 3) let them cool. BOOM. Some pretty rad Valentine crayons are now complete.
If you feel like taking this a step further, tie a little string around each heart-shaped crayon, grab a piece of card stock, and have your kid write notes to each kid in the class. AMAZING.
Tic Tac Printables
This project was our all-time favorite, but it does have an upfront cost. Each kid gets a full container of Tic Tacs, which can get expensive if you’re making Valentines for a full classroom. After hunting around a bit, I found the best price was on Amazon, where it cost me about 75 cents per Valentine.
I also happened to have sticker paper lying around the house, so that is another possible expense. But the beauty of this project is that you get mad props for doing very little work. There are tons of printables out there that rely on the Tic Tac container theme. Here are a few:
Hunt around with your kid(s), select their favorite option, and print it on sticky paper. Have your kid cut the pieces to size and put them on the Tic Tac containers. DONE. They can assign specific containers to certain people or just sign their name on the Valentine and hand them out en masse. In our case, my son had a very complex system for determining who got the Yoda ones and who got Darth Vader, because it all had deep meaning in his eight-year-old mind.
Melt-and-pour soap making is an easy craft to do with kids. As long as they know how to avoid hot items, they are old enough to do melt-and-pour soap.
As with the Crayon Hearts project, this Valentine requires either a heart-shaped column mold or a mini-heart silicone mold. It’s also helpful to have larger molds to embed the hearts in. You’ll need some clear melt-and-pour soap base and some colorants, all of which can be picked up at a craft store for a reasonable fee.
Microwave the soap base for the hearts in short, 30 second bursts until melted. Add whatever color your kid chooses. If using column molds, and you trust your kid to pour the soap into the mold safely, go for it. If they are still a little risky with hot stuff, then you pour it in. Spray with rubbing alcohol and let them cool about 60 mins. Ok! Now you have small heart-shaped soaps. Your kid can pop them out of the mold safely when cooled, and then chop them up with a non-serrated knife.
But don’t stop there! Ask your son or daughter to arrange the hearts in a cool pattern and set them in to the base of a larger circle mold (or square, or triangle, or whatever!). Spray these with rubbing alcohol again. Melt another round of clear melt-and-pour soap base – again in short bursts – and mix in some eco-friendly glitter. BAM. Pour this over the pre-arranged hearts and let the soap sit.
As with the crayons, you can go all out and add tags to these Valentines to make them extra fancy. Or just hand them out as-is, because they’re already pretty sweet!
Stuck on You
Does your kid have a favorite kind of gum? Grab a big ole box of EXTRA in whatever their flavor of choice may be. Like the Tic Tacs, you can buy these in bulk, if you think far enough ahead of time. There are a TON of printables with the Extra theme, so go hog wild! Does your kiddo have a favorite?
Here are a few ideas: