In my world, kids eat too much candy. They need more candy like they need a hole in the head. Couple that with kids who have multiple food allergies, and Valentine’s Day can be a real bummer. To try to meet the demand for Valentines without adding to the sugar load, I have created a list of Valentine options that do not involve candy and can be given to anyone, regardless of their food allergy situation.
Some of these ideas are original to me. Others have come from a variety of sources over the years. Some will seem corny and others will seem fun. Some will require a trip to the dollar store. A few will take some work, while others can easily be done the night before!
First, let me say that it is nice to simply cut out hearts, write an encouraging note on them and let that be that. There is no need for the specialized, commercialized, expensive Valentine’s cards. The kids barely read them anyway. A nice note on a simple heart cut from construction paper will do.
Second, don’t forget grandparents, friends and relatives. Cut out a simple heart, write a note on it and stick it in the mail or deliver it to their door. This simple, heartfelt act can really brighten someone’s day without a lot of expense.
Third, don’t feel like you have to have your child write everything if writing is difficult. You can write out the message and they can write their name, draw a picture on the heart or decorate the envelope. Tediousness breeds frustration and these are supposed to be fun!
THINGS TO MAKE
Use 4×6 blank index cards, cut in half lengthwise. Write your note and laminate with contact paper. Use a hole punch to create a hole and the top and add a length of ribbon.
- Book plates
Use a completely blank mailing label to create a book plate with the recipient’s name on it. You can decorate it with stickers. Tuck it in an envelope with the recipient’s name on it.
Use construction or printer paper to cut out snowflakes. On each snowflake, write your note and the name of the recipient. You can even refold the snowflake to stick it in an envelope.
Check out this idea for making heart-shaped snowflakes!
- Photograph of you and the recipient together
Reprint of photos are fairly inexpensive. However, this will require some advance work on your part to get the photos taken and printed. Once that is finished, write your note on the back!
- Laminated Tic Tac Toe Board
Use a blank 4×6 index card to carefully draw a tic tac toe board. Write your message on the backside or choose another paper game to put on the back. Laminate with contact paper. The kids can use their candy hearts, rocks, or dry erase markers to play the game again and again!
- Tiny paper snack bags filled with popcorn kernels
Put ¼ cup popcorn kernels in a paper lunch bag or tiny paper snack bag. Fold over the top several times and tape it closed. Use an index card to write out the directions or print several copies from the computer. The bag can be folded with the kernels in it and help closed with a rubber band.
[Directions for popping: Microwave on high (folded side up) for 2-3 minutes or until there are 2-3 seconds between pops. Add your own salt and/or flavorings.]
- Felt Mice Puppets- “You are so “mice” to me!
This idea is so cute, I just could not resist including it in the list. Directions and materials list can be found here. These mice will easily fit in a regular envelope.
Using a coffee filter and pipe cleaner, you can create some adorable butterflies. You can choose to leave the coffee filter plain or add decorations using markers. Then fold the coffee filter in half and use the pipe cleaner (bent in half) to create the body and antennae by folding it around the center of the folded coffee filter and twisting it at the top to hold it firmly to the filter, leaving a little left at the top for the antennae. There are better instructions and pictures here.
USING THINGS PURCHASED FROM THE DOLLAR STORE
Some of these items come in packages priced at several for a dollar or two. Use construction paper or index cards to write your sentiment or message. Then, use a hole punch to create a hole to run ribbon through for attaching the card to your item.
- Mad Libs, rolled up and tied with a ribbon- I am mad about you!
- Character cups- My love for you can not be contained!
- “Matchbox” type cars- You drive me wild!
- Pencils- Your name is written on my heart!
- Silly shaped erasers- You can not erase my love for you!
- Toothbrushes – You make me smile!
- Bouncy balls- You make my heart bounce!
- Tiny slinky- You put a spring in my step!
- Small plastic dinosaurs- I “dino” what I would do without you!
- Giggle sticks- I love to laugh with you!
- Shaker eggs- Our love (or friendship) can not be shaken!
I hope you have found these ideas helpful as you plan your Valentine’s Day activities. Things like this are fun for everyone and do not exclude those who have food allergies! Plus, I have to keep reminding my children that it is not the value or usefulness of the item. It is the thought that counts! Happy Valentine’s Day!