By Heidi Smith Luedtke
Pass up the overpriced greeting cards at the grocery store and show your affection with one of these crafty Valentine’s Day ideas. They’re easy, inexpensive and fun for cherubs of all ages.
- Colour Their World – Make your own Valentine’s Day crayons by melting rainbow-colored remnants in a heart-shaped silicone muffin pan. Find detailed directions at Sheknows.com <http://www.sheknows.com/kids-activity-center/articles/961747/how-to-make-your-own-crayons> . Wrap in clear cellophane and attach hand-made gift cards that say “You Colour My World.”
- Word Up– Make customized word clouds for each of your kids using the free tools at Wordle.net <http://www.wordle.net/create> . Capture their favourite sports, hobbies and sayings. Put their nicknames in big bold letters. Frame each child’s personalized word art in a sassy red frame to make it extra special.
- Sweet Somethings– Bake fortune cookies stuffed with personalized messages to remind kids how lucky you are to have them in your life. Find easy recipes at AllRecipes.com <http://www.allrecipes.com/> and print your own fortunes on pink paper. Got bakers block? Order custom cookies from the delicious line up at FancyFortuneCookies.com <http://www.fancyfortunecookies.com> .
- Make a Love Shack – Buy a leftover gingerbread house kit at your local craft store, where holiday merchandise is priced to sell. Toss the stale red and green decorations and let the kids use icing to attach red hots, candy hearts, pink marshmallows and licorice whips instead. Display their love shack as a centerpiece or mantle topper.
- Tell Silly Stories– Give your kids the gift of giggles with a book of Mad Libs in Love by Roger Price and Leonard Stern ($3.99 for 24 wacky fill-in-the-blank stories). Better yet, create your own personalized mad libs using the free printable template from DollarStoreMom.com <http://dollarstoremom.com/2012/01/free-valentine-mad-lib-printable/valentine-mad-lib/> . Laugh together until your cheeks hurt.
- Popping with Pride– Write affirmations on small strips of paper and slip each strip into a balloon. Inflate and tie the knots. Let your child hop and pop on the balloons to access your loving messages. Make sure to keep popped balloons away from little mouths – they can be a choking hazard.
- Wet and Wild– Make bath time extra special with homemade bathtub finger paints. Bottled baby shampoo and corn starch are quickly (and easily) transformed into your own clean creations using the detailed instructions at OurSevenDwarfs.com <http://www.oursevendwarfs.com/2011/01/homemade-bath-finger-paints.html> . Let kids paint the walls of the tub or each other for some foamy fun.
- Lunchtime Love – Put a silly Valentine’s Day token in your child’s lunch box. Need inspiration? Find a flat rock in the yard and write “You Rock My World” on it. Or tag a lollipop with the words “I’m a sucker for you, Valentine!” And don’t forget to pack a heart-shaped sandwich while you’re at it.
- Love You to Pieces– Make your own heart-shaped puzzles by mounting photos and messages on heavy cardstock or foam-core board with spray adhesive. Cut into pieces. Decorate a special box or envelope to hold the pieces of your heart. Your little Valentine will reassemble this crafty creation over and over again.
- Family Date Night – Host a special Valentine’s event for the whole family instead of going out for a grown-up date with your spouse. Order heart-shaped pizza and watch an age-appropriate romantic comedy such as Alvin and the Chipmunks’ “A Chipmunk Valentine.” Spending time together is the best way to show your love.
Heidi Smith Luedtke is a personality psychologist and mom of two. Read her psychology lessons for life at heidiluedtke.com.