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I’m not sure why, but Valentine’s Day often sneaks up on me. Mark and I usually plan something small for ourselves, but I often forget about the exchange of sentimental goods kids share, too. I used to love it as a child. We’d decorate boxes and share cards and candy with one another. When my own kids were young, they didn’t really know (or care) or understand about Valentine’s Day, and I never pushed them into it–a heart-shaped cake or cookie usually did the trick. I still remember the year that changed. Since then, I make an effort to remember: they want to share on that day, too.

As I scoured the internet, laden with adorable Valentine DIYs, for ideas this year, I realized I would be doing a large amount of the work (which for me, defeats the purpose). I decided instead to just let the kids make their own. They love creating their own masterpieces to share with others and I’m always amazed at what their minds and hands can do together. I brought out the felt heart-shaped stickers and different washi tapes I found last weekend in the Target dollar section, along with several other art supplies we had on hand at home. After spreading them out across the table and introducing the materials (especially the ones in limited quantity), I let them loose to create. They cheered, literally. Meanwhile, I sat down with them, helping them spell names and creating on my own paper. The projects belonged to each of them: specific gifts handmade with love.

{materials we used–this can vary}

  • heart-shaped cookie cutters (for tracing)
  • washi tape
  • oil pastels
  • construction paper
  • red + white twine
  • felt heart stickers
  • glue sticks
  • scissors

 

 

 

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The Gingerbread Man
by Rowena Bennett
The gingerbread man gave a gingery shout:
“Quick open the oven and let me out!”
He stood up straight in his baking pan.
He jumped to the floor and away he ran.
“Catch me,” he called, “if you can, can, can.”
The gingerbread man met a cock and a pig.
And a dog that was brown and twice as big.
But he called to them all as he ran,
“You can’t catch a runaway gingerbread man.”
Then he came to a fox and he turned to face him.
He dared old Reynard to follow and chase him;
But when he stopped under the fox’s nose
Something happened. What do you suppose?
The fox gave a snap. The fox gave a yawn,
And the gingerbread man was gone, gone, gone.
———————————————
Today, the kids and I drank hot cocoa and read this poem aloud together, laughing at the haughty little gingerbread man and his fate. Over the weekend, we had built a gingerbread house together, something we do each year (the pre-made kits of course). Some years we build our house at the beginning of December and leave it out on display–their piece of art to discuss with friends and other visitors. Other years, they, like the hungry fox, snap it up only hours after creation. This year was the latter.

 

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In the world of digital everything, receiving real mail (even when hand-delivered) can feel like a gift. E-mail is convenient and free, and with so many digital invitation options (Evite, Paperless post, etc.), it’s often difficult to justify the time and expense for paper. I get it. Believe me, I get it. Time is valuable, which is exactly why a handmade, snail-mailed invitation can be just the right treat for your guests, no matter their age. Of course, an invite tucked in with confetti and wrapped in twine will feel like a mini-party in itself.

I love the variation and imperfection of watercolors for this project. Although similar, each invitation had a slightly different hue and rhythm, but most of all, Blythe made each one. I helped her mix the paints (crimson, with a little white and yellow) and write, but she chose the colors and painted them herself (sadly, I only had my iphone available for that part).  It was such a fun collaboration and a way for Blythe to feel a little ownership in her event. We used them for her birthday, but you could easily adapt this idea for any event or to create a stationery gift. Below, I included the materials and steps for you to do it yourself at home. Enjoy!

{what you need}

  • watercolor paper (postcard size or cut larger sheets)
  • watercolors
  • paint brush/es
  • pen/marker
  • envelopes
  • confetti
  • twine

{steps}

  1. Decide the color/s you want to use and mix your paints. Don’t worry about it being perfect, as I said, the imperfection is part of the beauty.
  2. Fill a glass of water and begin making strokes along your paper. You may choose to cover the entire paper, creating an ombré effect (dark to light) or leave unfinished edges (as Blythe did).
  3. Let them fully dry (at least 24 hours).
  4. Use a fine-tipped marker or pen to write your invitation.
  5. Place completed invites in an envelope with a small bit of confetti.
  6. Seal the envelopes and wrap with twine. (You may skip the twine altogether if you’re sending them in the mail.)