Valentine’s Day: a non-DIYer’s nightmare

I am not what one would call a DIY-er. (Is that what they’re called? I am so not a DIY-er that I’m not even sure of the terminology.) Recently a friend of mine was talking about how she “whipstitched” one of her husband’s ties to make it appropriately skinny for an 80s costume party, and I about short-circuited just listening to her. I can’t even make a decent Lego cake.

god, that's pathetic.

So I tend to regard Valentine’s Day with a fair bit of foresight and dread. Each year my kids come home with fancier handmade creations from their classmates, names calligraphied in fondant on heart-shaped butter cookies, bags full of more candy and more bubbles and more crap, and the stakes get upped again. Between my three children, I am responsible for 55 valentines. Heaven forbid I would ever have to actually MAKE them. So I ordered my Current catalog assortment weeks ago.

February 8th came. No valentines. I called Current. “Oh, we’re sold out of everything you ordered,” they said. “Your order was not able to be filled.” I rushed to the drugstore, heart in throat. All that was left were puppy and kitty valentines, reading “I Ruv You Rots,” which would not do for a nine-year-old boy. They WOULD. NOT. DO.

And so 2012 became the Year of Homemade Valentines chez nous. And I have to say I’m darn proud of what we figured out. Here is Maggie’s creation:

These colorful hearts are fashioned from the four enormous finger paintings Maggie had brought home from nursery school in the last week to sit on the kitchen counter until it felt okay to throw the out when she wasn’t looking. Now they’ve been repurposed! No two are alike! And she signed them all herself.

Connor the third-grader went the unsentimental route:

I mean, it’s a smiling Cyclops, but he would as soon rip you to shreds with those claws as look at you. Not sure what the chain link necklace is about. That may be an actual human heart hanging from it that he’s just ripped out of his latest victim. Happy Valentine’s Day!

And then there’s my first-grader, Seamus. If everyone’s ziggin’, he’s sure to zag. He decided to ignore the mushy stuff entirely and give everyone a much more sensible and proud-American greeting:

Sam the Eagle would be so proud of him.

I am proud to say we did all 55 valentines in about half an hour with nothing but a glue stick, a scissors, a color copier, and Google Image Search. Okay, I won’t be becoming a craft blogger anytime soon. But they’re done. And now that my friend Marketing Mama has pointed out to her readers how sad the Valentines candy cavalcade can be for children with food allergies, I’m not taping lollipops or frosted cookies to them, either. And I’m even feeling like a better mother for it. Happy Good Enough Valentine’s Day!

How are you celebrating Good-Enough-Valentine’s Day at your house?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Lneumannca February 13, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Oh I love those. You all did great. Love the idea or re-using finger paintings! And yay for not attaching lollipops or pencils (we have so many of those already)! Congrats on completing your valentine’s duties!
I was dreading helping my 2 with theirs on Sunday, but it wasn’t so bad. My 4 yr old son cheerfully added stickers and his signature to store-bought ones for his whole class (last year he gave up after completing two of them), while my 7 yr old daughter happily cut out red and pink hearts and glued them onto some doilies I found in our craft supplies.
I figured it was a great way for them to practice their penmanship!


Mollie February 14, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Those are awesome. I had no idea Valentine’s Day had gotten so high-stakes in elementary school. In my day it was all about which licensed character was making weak puns on your folded cardboard card. Seamus’s made me laugh for a long time.


Mollie February 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm

 Oh, and P.S.: Can Current DO that? Boo on them.


Lori Dellinger Swanson February 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Your Valentines are great! And done by the KIDS. To give you an idea about me, here is my Facebook post from yesterday:
“So…..I have very little aptitude or time for crafts plus a black shoebox. Would it be wrong to have my 5th grader write “Love Stinks” on the box with red lipstick and check “Valentine box for Trevor” off my list?
I got a surprising amount of support from my Facebook friends, but when I got home, he had decorated his box with wrapping paper and dog stickers, signed and addressed all the cards, and taped Blow-pops to each.


Angela February 14, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Is Connor up for adoption, bc he had me at “chain link fence.”


Jesabes Blog February 14, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Those are great! I ordered ours this year, but am almost regretting it after seeing all the wonderful homemade ones – I’m awful at coming up with ideas so I should save them all for next year.


Meredith L. February 14, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Thankfully my oldest is only 3, and this is his first year at preschool. Based on the amount of Holiday cards we got from classmates – exactly 1 – I decided I could get away with not doing Valentines this year. And I was right: he got 2, both homemade.

Since Valentine’s Day is also my birthday (wasn’t THAT fun in my 20s!) I think in the future I’ll have my kids hand out “Happy My Mom’s Birthday” cards, and we’ll tape probiotics, samples of Nutella, and Breathe-Right nasal strips to them in my honor.


Courtney February 15, 2012 at 8:23 pm

My mom was so good at this type of thing, but she stayed home with us in the ’80’s, and yes, I am going to say it – SHE HAD TIME TO DO IT. I know stay at home mom’s are very busy, as I’ve been one. But she had the actual, physical time between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to sit down with us and make shoebox Valentine’s Day boxes, homemade cards, homemade cookies. Every day when I came home from school she had homemade goodies fresh from the oven ( I am talking apple pie, or chocolate bread pudding, or individual chocolate mousse with your name written on it – yes, I will NEVER live up to my mother).

But I think I did good, what with having a newborn and a toddler around and working full time! I asked my mother-in-law, who babysits on Mondays, to bake cupcakes with my daughter on Monday for her daycare class party on Tuesday. And I asked my father-in-law, who also babysits on Mondays, to help my daughter fill out her store-bought cards for her class. I showered my kids with kisses, and my mom made us a meal of steak and shrimp. I know when to ask for help:) My best quality.


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