You don’t have to buy a bunch of valentines from the store so that your kid can have a happy day. Let them make these class valentines themselves instead!
You don’t have to buy 20 mini-packs of Play-Doh, or a bunch of suckers to impress your kid’s friends (or their parents!).
Your kids can have the responsibility of making their own valentines for their own friends. It may take a few afternoons, of course, but a labor of love is a fine way to spend one’s time, especially in the creative pursuit of spreading affection around one’s classmates.
You also don’t have to buy a bunch of junky supplies just so that your kids can make valentines, of course. Here are plenty of plans for valentines that kids can make all by themselves, with just a few supplies that you’ll likely already have on hand.
20 DIY Class Valentines
1. birdseed valentines. Kids who like to work in the kitchen will like to make these useful valentines that are gifts for both friends AND birds!
2. bookmarks. Printables make an easy shortcut, but kids can also decorate their own. You can cut the bookmark shapes out of cardstock or stash cardboard yourself to save time.
3. button hearts. Kids who like to wear pretties in their hair will love getting these button heart hair pins as much as your kids will love de-stashing your buttons to make them!
4. fortune cookies. This is a Martha Stewart craft, so you KNOW it’s only for the biggest kids, but custom fortune cookies? How awesome is that?!?
5. friendship bracelets. Here’s the perfect craft for older kids, especially if they’re not as into the idea of passing out paper valentines anymore.
6. fruit. Here’s a healthy way to give out snacks as valentines! Draw a heart or write a cute message on the outside of fruit that must be peeled, and you’ll have valentines that the recipients’ parents DON’T give the side-eye.
Although there was heated disagreement about this in the Comments to a recent blog post, I maintain that writing in Sharpie on the peel of an orange or banana is okay by me. If you personally feel wary about it, however, that’s totally cool for you, too–use edible markers or stickers instead.
7. garden seed valentines. Your kids can use plain envelopes, or cut and color their own if you’d rather not use printables. Their friends can get a head start on their spring gardening!
8. glittered rocks. Kids who are too young to draw a heart will enjoy simply painting their rocks in glue and glitter, but older kids can make these valentines that their recipients will want to keep out all year!
9. heart-shaped crayons. You’ll probably have to help with this one–unless you’re comfortable with your child handling liquid wax inside your oven!–BUT it’s a major stash-buster for all those broken crayons that you’ve got lying around, and even very little kids can put broken crayons into a muffin tin.
10. hole punched hearts. This is the perfect activity for younger ones or kids with a short attention span, as long as they’re strong enough to operate the punch. If they’re not eager crafters or confident with scissors, you can even cut the hearts out for them and let them focus on the decoration.
11. newspaper and watercolor valentines. You’ll have to set these valentines onto a card base when you’re finished, but kids will have lots of fun painting newspaper with watercolors first!
12. paper airplane valentine. If you’ve got origami paper on hand, this would be a quick and simple project for a kid who isn’t into anything cutesie. Have your kid make a paper airplane for each classmate, keeping the decorated side of the paper on the outside and writing her name and the recipient’s name on the inside.
13. pom pom monsters. Kids can make these with just bits of stash yarn, and they can be made to fit both kids who hate cutesie valentines and kids who love them.
14. puzzle piece valentine. Got any old preschool puzzles with missing pieces? They make great valentines!
15. seed paper valentines. Kids who would like a more involved weekend project will enjoy making seed paper valentines for their friends. Planted and growing, these will be valentines that get remembered all year!
16. sewn valentines. My kids LOVE using the sewing machine. Did you know that you can sew through paper and cardstock using just a regular universal needle? Give the kids some paper and punches and access to the sewing machine, and they’ll probably be thrilled to make all of their valentines.
17. suncatchers. There’s more work here, but a process-focused younger kid will really enjoy making these suncatchers with old packing boxes, contact paper, and pretty found objects. Attach a tag with the recipient’s name to the hanging ribbon.
18. toilet paper tube valentine. If your kids have their hearts set on giving out little treats and prizes, they can still make the candy holder an eco-friendly, upcycled valentine.
19. twig arrows. This non-cutesy craft still fits the valentine theme, and requires lots of excellent hikes around the neighborhood to collect the twigs. It’ll be even easier if your kiddo is allowed to use the hot glue gun.