Things have changed since I grew up, but at least one thing is still the same — kids passing out Valentines to their classmates. When I was a kid, we went to the drugstore or card store, bought a box of paper Valentines with our favorite cartoon character, addressed and signed them and we were good to go.
Of course, that’s still possible and very common. But considering that Valentine’s Day is my second-favorite holiday (after Christmas) and the fact that I love to make sweet treats, my kids and I usually go a bit more DIY for the holiday of love (or like). Thanks to Pinterest and the internet in general, there’s no shortage of ideas for the homemade cards kids can create. I look for DIY Valentine’s Day cards and gifts that are quick and easy for kids to make, won’t cost a bundle and will turn out great without amazing artistic talent.
Here are several affordable and easy DIY valentines your kids can make that their classmates will love. We’ve divided them into candy- or food-based treats and non-candy ideas, so you can choose the type of valentine best suited for your family and school rules.
Food and candy valentines
If your kids are into Frozen, you can make tons of DIY valentines starring the beloved snowman, Olaf. Ask your valentine if they “wanna build a snowman” with an edible snowman gift. Fill a sandwich bag with three marshmallows, two pretzel sticks, and raisins and candy for eyes and nose. Alternatively, gift a baggie full of Warm Hugs (actually kisses — the Hershey kind) or print out “You Melt My Frozen Heart” cards and attach a chocolate candy heart.
Applesauce pouch valentines
A cute fruit-based idea uses the squeeze applesauce pouches as a valentine treat. Create homemade labels saying “Valentine, you’re my main squeeze!” and tie them around the pouch screwtops. Kids will love the unique valentine, and parents will be happy for a less sugary treat.
Potato stamp cards
This star-themed arts-and-crafts activity is fun for any holiday but can yield some original DIY Valentine’s Day cards. Get some card stock, a bag of Starbursts, craft paint in different colors (I bought some for 33 cents a bottle), and a potato — yes, a potato. Draw up cards that say “You’re a star, Valentine.” Carve a star shape on the cut edge of the potato, dip in paint and stamp the shape underneath the text of the cards. Tape a Starburst candy in the middle of the heart.
Valentine’s Marshmallow Pops
Step aside, cake pops. Marshmallow pops are the new Valentine’s Day treat. You can find lollipop sticks at any craft store and some grocery stores, including Walmart. Insert them into plain or flavored marshmallows, dip in chocolate and coat with sprinkles to create these super easy and yummy treats.
Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies
It’s hard to make cookies unique, but this Valentine’s Day sugar cookie recipe nails it. Help your kids bake sugar cookies with an indentation in the center. When the cookies are cool, fill the crater with white icing, then use edible food markers to personalize each cookie with a design or signature. Kids too young to bake can put their unique stamp — or scribble — on these holiday treats for their classmates.
Valentine’s pretzel M&M’s
These edible valentines are made with Hershey’s kisses, M&Ms and pretzels and are so easy, my kids can make them (with a little parental guidance.) I use pretzel snaps (the ones that look like little checkerboards) because I think they work better. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with a single layer of pretzels. Place a chocolate kiss in the center of each pretzel. Bake for two to three minutes or until chocolate is softened, and remove from the oven. Immediately put an M&M on each. You will want to press down slightly, so the chocolate forms a circle with the M&M in the center. Set on the counter or refrigerate for 5-10 minutes or until chocolate is firm. Four or five in a little cellophane bag with a cute label is all you need.
Rice Krispie Hearts
These DIY Rice Krispie hearts are simple and yummy. Bake your favorite rice cereal treats, and use cookie cutters to cut out heart shapes. Dip them in milk or white chocolate, with or without sprinkles, or leave them plain. Stick them on a lollipop stick or wrap as is. Attach a homemade card, and these treats are sure to be a hit.
3-D Valentine’s Day card
Take a photo of your child with hand outstretched. Print the photo, and attach a Valentine’s Day lollipop to the outstretched hand. You’ve just created a 3-D card! Alternatively, you can have your child draw a self-portrait and attach the candy to the drawing.’
Punny valentine candy card crafts
If none of these tickle your fancy, here’s a substantial list of
cheesy cute sayings along with a coordinating food to go with it to make your own Valentine’s Day card-and-treat combo. Simply pick a fun font, type up your saying multiple times, print on cardstock, cut out and attach the food. The pun-based sayings include such groaners as “I chews you as my Valentine” on a package of gum, “You rock, Valentine” on a package of pop rocks or rock candy, or “I’m beary happy you’re in my class” on a pack of gummy bears or Teddy Grahams.
Non-candy valentines for kids
Valentine’s Day fortune teller
Will your kids’ classmates be lucky in love or have to kiss a frog? A paper fortune teller will reveal all the answers. I remember making these as a kid, and I love that now my kids can enjoy them too. If you don’t want to predict bad love affairs for elementary-school kids, try this Valentine’s Day joke-based fortune teller. It comes in both a color and black and white version, perfect for the kids to color in themselves. And what kid doesn’t love a good or even a bad joke.
Felt Valentine’s Day hair clips
Take a sheet of felt and cut out a small heart. Sew it to the back of a metal hair clip using embroidery floss and a needle. Decorate it by gluing on buttons, sequins and other embellishments. You can also sew on these items.
Rainbow loom valentines
If you’ve got a rainbow loom in your house, your kid can attach DIY Valentine’s Day notes to the bracelets she crafts. These charms could be a fun extra for holiday gifts. Are you kids ambitious crafters? Then they might want to attempt a loom valentine necklace.
Paint chip bookmark
Here’s another easy DIY valentine idea that can be easily made in bulk for classroom gifts. Use a heart-shaped hole punch to cut red or pink paint sample cards (the kind you find in hardware or paint stores, shown above) with heart shapes. Tie a coordinating ribbon at the top to create simple but fun bookmarks.
Valentine’s Day wreath
Start with a disposable paper or plastic plate. Cut out the middle part, leaving only the outer ring. Decorate this outer ring with cut out hearts, buttons and other embellishments. Attach a small hook to the back, and you have a Valentine’s Day wreath!
Thumb print hearts
This craft involves dipping your child’s thumb in ink and having him or her make a thumbprint on paper that’s slanted toward the left. Then, have them make another thumbprint over the first one that’s slanted toward the right, so the image forms the shape of a heart. These thumb print hearts can be used to add a personal, decorative touch to their Valentine’s Day cards.
Star Wars glow-stick valentines
We’re big into Star Wars — who isn’t lately? — and have no shortage of light sabers in the house. This May the Force Be With You photo valentine using glow sticks was perfect for my son. Print out cards with a photo of your child playing Jedi and insert a skinny glow-stick bracelet where the light saber should be. For valentines without a picture of your child, look for printable cards with check out cartoon Star Wars characters. You can usually find packs of glow sticks pretty inexpensively at craft supply or dollar stores.
For a candy-based treat, I also love these FREE Star Wars printables you can simply stick to a Tic Tac box.
FREE printable coloring valentine
Another great idea for classrooms is Valentine’s-themed coloring page packs. You’ll just need some card stock, a couple boxes of crayons, and snack bags. Print out the cards and attach a bag with three or four new crayons.
Heart-shaped picture frame
Get a heart-shaped box (a good way to find one is to use an empty heart-shaped box of chocolates). Create a stencil by tracing the heart over a spare piece of paper. Then, using the stencil, trace a heart over an existing photo and cut it in the shape of the Valentine. Carefully place the picture inside the heart shaped box. You now have a picture frame along with the photo.
Heart-shaped paper clips
Find the open-ended half of a paperclip. Fold it outward at the half-way point. Notice that the shape looks similar to a heart. The paper clip still works, but when you slip it over a sheet of paper, it becomes a great heart for Valentine’s Day. Use these to decorate your homemade cards.
Start with a poster size piece of paper, and decorate it with crayons, markers and colored pencils. Laminate the poster, or take it to a nearby office supply store to have it laminated instantly. These creations make great placemats for the entire family to have at dinner time.
If you’re lucky (and crafty) you might just have all, or at least most, of the materials you’ll need to make any of these. If not, it’s all fairly inexpensive, so you won’t be spending a fortune — plus, you get a fun indoor craft project to entertain the family on a cold February weekend.
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