Remember when all it took was a construction paper card and a little bit of courage to ask that special someone to "Be Yours"? There’s nothing quite like doilies and macaroni to tell your beloved exactly how you feel. Sure, that was the third grade, but who says you can’t be just as crafty now? Homemade Valentine gifts are not only lighter on the wallet, but show a sentiment and an intention that go beyond the somewhat trite jewelry, chocolate, or candlelight dinners. (On second thought, those sound kind of nice too…maybe you can just supplement with a little DIY?) Whether your valentine is a new love, an old flame, your best girlfriend, or gosh darnit -- just yourself-- here are some grown-up twists on elementary ideas for you to try this year. And thankfully, none of them include sock puppets or a recycled mixed tape.
1. Old Hollywood Lovers Postcards
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a little obsessed with the glamour and elegance of classic Hollywood. So, I thought it a perfect theme for some DIY postcards. This idea is so simple, yet so appropriate for Valentine’s Day. (Not to mention, most similar to those cutout construction paper cards.) All you need is cardstock (I got red for the cards and cream for the accents), scissors, glue, a fine tip Sharpie, and photos of your most inspiring lovers. (Seen here: Cary Grant + Ingrid Bergman, Paul Newman + Joanne Woodward, Arthur Miller + Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable + Carole Lombard, and Gary Cooper + Tallulah Bankhead.) Once you’ve assembled all your materials, it’s pretty easy from there. Cut and paste to your liking. Be creative with your titles! I matched mine to the photos: "I like you because you smell good," "Kiss me before you go," "We fit together," "You are my sweetest downfall," and "Take me home already!" Note that if you choose dark card stock, you may have to put a lighter colored backing on it so the post will be able to read the address, and your love will be able to read your letter. And how about you send one as a secret admirer this year? Nothing like mail from a mystery lover to make the day a little brighter. Share the love.
2. Tea for Two Flower Vases
Anyone who ever said women are complicated clearly doesn't understand the value of red roses. Seems pretty straightforward to me. Not to downplay the romance and tradition of long stem (which are always appreciated), but here is another, more creative option. To kick up the value of flowers as a gift, why not also include a vase? This is one of my favorite ways to display flowers, adding varying height and dimension. Seen here: my favorite personalized coffee mugs. Check out Anthropologie for these and more ideas.
3. Wine Plus a Little More
This one diverges slightly from the elementary school theme. Unless you encourage your child to give a food pairing with a juice box to his lady love this year. I mean, how adorable would that be? But for the over 21 version, anyone can bring a bottle of wine. That requires about as much thought as tying your shoes. This year, let’s spice it up and make a meal out of it. If your date likes Pinot Noir (ahem, me), do a little research on what would make the best pairing with a nice Pinot. Take some time on the ol’ interweb or visit your local bookstore for some great literature on food and wine pairings. When you find one you like, write it up, make it cute, and attach it to your favorite bottle. Seen here: my fave bottle of Pinot Noir and a recipe for Grilled Chicken with Sautéed Mushrooms. Check out Food & Wine online for this and other recipes.
4. How About Some Cookies, Sugar?
The heart shaped sugar cookie. The quintessential Valentine’s Day gift. For the precocious grade school Cassanova, or, I’d like to submit, anyone of any age (at any time). A few things are special about this gifting idea. First of all, it is absolutely imperative that the cookies be made from scratch. So put on your apron, grab your rolling pin and get going. Again, this is a great time to get crafty. I cut my cookies into hearts and even spelled out the word "L-O-V-E." (No cookie cutter necessary, I just used a sharp knife and outlined the letters. Be sure to make the thickness consistent with the other cookies and make the letters thinner than you want because they will expand in the oven.) Follow recipe instructions on baking, let the cookies cool, then ice to add the final touches. The second cool thing about this idea is the plate on which you place them. That’s the best part of the gift! No Indian giving, here-are-your-cookies-just-get-me-my-plate-back-when-you-can situation. The plate I chose here was pink and white to match my cookies. Check out One Kings Lane for more plate ideas and Martha Stewart for a simple, from scratch sugar cookie recipe.