I remember having to make valentines cards in elementary school for each of my classmates. The handmade cards tended to come from whatever scrap paper, lace, and paper doilies we had around our home. Each valentine was different, a scrapper’s attempt at making beauty from what was available.
And then things changed, and there was a new ethic afoot: Skip the handmade valentine and buy a mass-produced version for your friends, complete with a stash of sweets. All you had to do was fill in your name, the recipient’s name, and add a packet of hearts. It certainly was a time-saver, but these so-called valentines felt like a cop-out and an opportunity for some not-so-creative folks to make money off of us. I’m still a big fan of the hand-crafted valentine. You might say the valentine is an original form of folk art, and some still practice it today.
Our kids, over the past few years, have been assigned, at school, to make valentines for their classmates from materials found in their home. Alas! We could bring back the tradition. Here are a few examples I’ve pulled from our photos over the years:
1) The Traditional Scrap Paper Valentine: We first gathered our scrap paper and cut out traditional hearts on card stock we had rescued from the landfill. We also save pretty scrap paper from magazines and junkmail so we have plenty of colors and textures to choose from for projects like this.
2) A Scrap Fabric Valentine: Then we found some pretty scrap fabric and cut out hearts to glue to the reclaimed card stock. Those felt a little more 3D and folksy.
3) Bookmark Valentines: Cut long strips of paper about 2 inches wide by 6 inches long.
Punch a hole (we punched a star, really) into one end of each strip.
Tie a little ribbon or scrap fabric through the star, and you’ll have bookmarks ready to decorate as useful valentines.
4) Valentine Heart Wands: In our pantry, we found some pie tins and colorful plastic straws we had found on the beach, saved, and washed. These would become our raw ingredients for heart wands we made for several of the students:
Cut a heart out of your pie tin and glue it to the end of a straw. They work with pretty sticks, too. And if you want to embellish your silvery pie tin heart, you can glue a smaller heart to your tin heart.
The Tin Man would be proud.
5) Wire and Yarn Hearts: We often craft wire hearts from scavenged wire and then wrap them in yarn. The children love hanging them around the garden. The little heart below was made by my daughter when the deer ate her bleeding hearts. She was so saddened by the loss of her hearts, she placed a fence around them and crafted this wire heart on the outside for the deer to eat, still leaving them something to enjoy. The sweetness of a 6-year-old is undying.
6) Classic Hand-Stitched Valentine: My daughter love to sew by hand. These hand-stitched valentines took her a month to make, but she poured her love and talent into each one. She left a little pocket in each to be filled with organic jelly beans, her favorite treat we buy in bulk at our local store. These are pretty easy to make so long as you have felt. We asked for felt on our local Buy Nothing group, and neighbors had plenty to share! She cut out hearts in varying sizes with my pinking shears and then layered them and sewed them together, leaving a pocket at the top.
7) Produce Sticker Heart: This one might be a bit of a stretch, but for those health-conscious sweethearts in your life, why not craft a produce sticker heart valentine? It was a cathartic exercise, for me, because those plastic stickers to announce that we’ve bought organic produce bother me greatly. No tutorial necessary, right?
Send in a picture of your own homemade valentines. We’d love to share them with all our sweethearts.