Last-minute Eco-friendly Valentine’s Day Creations

My daughter is attending her very first Valentine’s Day party today.  Ah–what is more romantic than a room full of toddlers exchanging cards and eating heart-shaped cookies?  The party hostess, Audrey’s daycare provider, gave us a list a couple weeks ago with the names of the children in attendance on Valentine’s Day.  Of course I immediately went to work making chocolate-covered cherries, composing personal poems for each child, and cutting out doilies and foil hearts.

All right, I didn’t really make candy or pen sonnets–how could I, when I left everything to the last possible moment?  I did manage to create my own last-minute Valentines rather than buying a box at the store.  A few days ago I saw a woman on television demonstrating how to make some easy eleventh-hour Valentines.  She threaded a tissue through a hole in a cut-out heart and wrote “Ah-cho-choose you” on the top.  I don’t know . . . unless I used 100% post-consumer recycled tissue, I just wouldn’t feel right about giving Audrey’s daycare friends this Valentine.  (Although, on second thought, who needs a tissue more than a little tyke in the dead of winter?)

The tissue Valentine got me thinking: what natural objects could inspire a Valentine-appropriate pun?  I ventured outside where I found more dead leaves than I could ever need.  Affix a dead leaf to a paper heart and write “Don’t leave me,” over the top and you have a nice, albeit somewhat desperate, Valentine.  Maybe “I won’t leaf you,” would be a little more jovial.  The dead leaf creation could also function as an anti-Valentine: “Please leave” or “Leave me alone” or even “You’re dead to me” could be written on the card to ward off unwanted suitors.

I didn’t stop with dead leaves.  I soon found rocks (“You’re my rock” can be written right on any nicely-shaped stone with soy-based ink), sticks (“Let’s stick together”), and creeping thyme (“Let’s spend thyme together” or “You’re a creep,” depending on the recipient).  Portland also boasts many evergreen rhododendrons, but I couldn’t think of a clever pun to accompany it.  I’ll leave it in case anyone knows a youngster by the name of “Rhoda.”

You Rock Valentine

For my daughter’s Valentines, I decided to “leave” the nature outdoors and “stick with” the more traditional paper-heart variety.  I cut hearts out of a maroon shopping bag and old magazines, glued them together, and voila:

Paper hearts

Ever wonder how to recycle your children’s artwork (without literally throwing the masterpieces in the recycling bin)?  Even very young children can take a part in the creation of Valentine’s day decorations.  Joy saved some of her son Roscoe’s finger paintings and used them to generate some brilliantly colored hearts.

 Roscoe fingerpainting      homemade Valentine

In a pinch, other ordinary objects can also function as Valentine card materials.  Photos, comics, personal ads, old calendar art, ribbons, fabric, sheet music, and even old Christmas cards can be refashioned as a heartfelt Valentine with a little glue and ingenuity.  By using materials I had around the house (or out on the ground), my eco-friendly Valentines won hearts and saved the planet in one fell swoop–with not a moment to spare.


  1. I love the idea of using Roscoe’s finger paints to make hearts. Your grocery bag valentine’s turned out sooo cute. ONe of my daughter’s classmates had made little felt bookmarks for each kid. I thought that was a good idea since it’s something these little early readers need. Not that a paperclip doesn’t work! We gave out pencils and erasers – again, something they would need anyway.

    On the not wanting to recycle the artwork – interesting topic because I can tell your kids are young. The stuff multiplies! We are in first grade now, I have tossed about half the stuff that’s come home and I still have, from the time she could rub her fingers in poster paint, 2 boxes and 2 file cabinet drawers full of precious art. She has gotten to the age where she is deeply hurt if I don’t save every single piece, every homework assignment, every time she colored the hidden object. And now her little brother is coming up behind and every day I get a new train track design to cherish. So, I am anxiously waiting for the sage advice on what to do with the accumulation. Decoupage the furniture and walls? We could just keep adding layers and probably increase our energy efficiency.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Eileen! I read a good tip about tossing kids’ artwork without hurting their feelings one time, which I filed away for future use. Maybe it would work for you. Each child would have a permanent art box. This box holds just a finite number of masterpieces, so if the child wants to keep something in there, she has to decide which old work to get rid of. This gives kids control over what gets kept and what gets tossed. The schoolwork would be filed in a similar way: keep everything at first, but at the end of the school year, allow the child to decide what gets kept in the “outstanding schoolwork” box.

    Another tip I read was to ruthlessly recycle everything and later tell the kid that you have no idea what happened to their wonderful depictions of dinosaurs stomping on cars.

    Again, I have no experience with this (yet!), so take these ideas with a grain of salt! You may very well end up decoupaging those walls. . . .

  3. Another idea I heard of recently was to take digital pictures of the artwork and then get the digital pictures made into a photo book from Costco or one of the other on-line sources – much more efficient in terms of space. The question is, will you really get around to making the photo book?

  4. That is a great idea, Duchess! You could also simply keep the album on the computer. Your kid could help maintain the album by adding names to the photos, organizing the photos into categories, and even emailing the album to friends and family every once in a while.


  1. […] year we showed you how to recycle your magazines or your children’s finger paintings by cutting them into creative Valentines, but we decided to keep life even simpler in 2009.  For […]

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