Caring For Our Kids

Do-it-yourself Valentines

From holiday to family project
Make Valentine’s Day even more meaningful photo: andrewmalone / flickr

It seems like just when we have put away all the holiday decorations, it’s already time to start thinking about Valentine’s Day. Whether your children are in school and distribute Valentines there or you send them to family and friends, it’s a great time to get a little creative. Now, don’t get scared, I just said a little creative. If you are like me, the thought of anything crafty or that requires messy supplies like glitter or glue has me running the other direction. However, my wonderful and dear friend Gina Eggert has showed me over the years that with just a little effort, help from the Internet, and some patience, this can be a great activity for the whole family. With a few simple steps, you can find a DIY project that will have everyone in your household looking forward to candy hearts and kisses.

GET IDEAS

With websites like Etsy, Pinterest, and Spoonful, there is no lack of places to look for great inspiration. With a simple search, you will find thousands of ideas and something for everyone. My son loves to make paper airplanes, so this year we are going to try making paper airplanes and writing cute sayings on them like, “You’re just plane cool.” This definitely wouldn’t “fly” with my daughter, so she is going to attach a flag onto a pencil that says, “You’re all write.” These are simple ideas that fit my energy level and their attention span and interests.

If you are looking for something ready-made, try Paper Source on Chestnut Street. They have great, simple options that are a step above the supermarket or drugstore choices. Most come prepackaged in kits that range from $15–$20 that are sure to rival Hallmark. Or you may want to consider attending a workshop. The Children’s Art Center located in Fort Mason is offering a family Valentine’s workshop on Feb. 8 from 10 a.m.–noon for $30 per parent/child pair.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

The best way to keep it simple is to find something that is age appropriate for your child. It is also important when choosing a project to keep in mind how many Valentines you will be making. Making Valentines for 12 students versus 35 might drastically change the entire project. The last thing you want is that you stay up until the wee hours of the morning finishing the project for 35 classmates because it was more than your little one could handle.

You can also make it a fun learning project without your children even knowing. When my son was in preschool, I had him write his name (good practice) on all 30 Valentines, and those letters were looking pretty good by the end. Another easy project for preschool children might involve stickers or rubber stamps. Grade-school children will be able to handle more complex projects involving cutting, gluing and assembling. For them, you might try incorporating some basic math skills — cutting out supplies, adding up how many they have done, and subtracting how many they have left.

START EARLY

Decide on your project, gather the supplies, and then experiment yourself to make sure it is going to work. Don’t wait until the night or day before to start on the Valentines. Allow several days or maybe even a week to complete them. Remember, children have a short attention span and will not be able to sit down and complete the project all in one sitting. Making a few each night will minimize the stress and frustration for everyone.

If you are all about fast and easy, then Walgreens may be your best option, but don’t be afraid to get creative and have a little fun. The time spent working on the Valentines with your children may be frustrating at times, but also may become one of their treasured childhood memories. I am convinced that the most-remembered Valentines are those with candy (for obvious reasons) and those homemade.

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E-mail: liz@marinatimes.com

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