It's that time of year again. The time of year when men from 12 to 62 feel like they have to show their love in some extravagant manner to prove themselves. Valentine's Day. I grew up in a household where, while certainly loving to their children, my parents never seemed to show a lot of outward affection for each other. Still, every Valentine's Day that I can remember, my father would carefully choose a card, usually playfully funny, and give it to my mother who would place it on the mantle above the fireplace for at least a week after. There was rarely any more of a show than that.
Now that I'm married myself, my husband and I try to go out for dinner some time around Valentine's Day (and...all the other days of the week actually...), and because he's a talented artist/illustrator, he always makes me a handmade/hand drawn card for Valentine's Day. I look forward to these cards every holiday that he makes them for me. They cost us nothing, and oftentimes he actually even uses scraps from my Paper Perennial work space to make them.
My point here is: gentlemen, know your lady. I'm am overjoyed with a handmade card, my mom was happy with a store bought card, and some women expect jewelry or a fancy dinner. However, I think all ladies enjoy something that shows that some personal attention went into the gift. So, here is a list of inexpensive, beginner level, I-don't-have-more-than-an-hour-to-commit-to-this, DIY gifts for Valentine's Day for the cash and time strapped gentlemen out there.
1. Homemade Bubble Bath
What woman doesn't love a bubble bath? My next home purchase is going to be predicated on the state of the bathtub capabilities. After all, for decades TV advertisements have been showing us how awesome they are after a long day of anything. Grab a cute bottle from a local craft store, or you even might be able to find one at your local Goodwill, and whip it up. Some formulas require items that you already have at home; others rely on essential oils which you can generally pick up at Target or even Walmart. Check out the linked tutorial for a bunch of recipes.
2. Paper Heart Shadow Box
Michaels sells inexpensive shadow boxes in black; for greater variety of colors, they have three packs. These shadow boxes allow for a wide variety of diy projects, but for the hurried husband, their tutorial to create a paper heart shadow box is quick and easy. You can use any kind of papers you want (map paper hearts are great for girls who like to travel), but extra points if you choose your sweetheart's favorite book. Of course, you do have to cut up the pages to make the box, so....maybe just print out some excerpts from online. Perfect for bedrooms or ladies that would like to remember you at their workplace.
3. Chocolate dipped anything
My mother works for a local grocery store, and during the Valentines season, they offer hand dipped in store chocolate covered strawberries which cost rather a fortune. I mean, a strawberry is a strawberry, right, especially when it's being slathered in chocolate? But there are a multitude of things that you can dip in chocolate, and even for the non-chef, this is an easy and sweet (get it, sweet?) gift for your Valentine. There are tons of recipes online for making chocolate dipped goods. All you really need, though, is some wax paper, semi-sweet chocolate chips (I prefer Aldi's brand; they melt really well), and a little bit of stick butter. Try to use a deep cup or bowl for dipping purposes. Mix the chocolate chips with the butter (experiment with how much butter you want to make it viscous) and microwave in 10-15 second intervals until it's liquid-y. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate. Then dip away! And place in the refrigerator for a few hours after for hardening. Strawberries, pretzels, marshmallows, kale. Okay, maybe not kale. But don't be afraid to experiment. Note: dipping non-perishable items like pretzels or cookies mean you can make more without her feeling like she has to eat 12 strawberries in 3 days).
4. Candle display
Lit candles just make everything better. Bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen tables. I use them as much as I can, including when my husband and I bring home Burger King for dinner (hey, every moment can be special). If your partner likes candles as much as I do, create your own candle arrangement with pillar candles. Pillar candles can be expensive, but focus on a smaller arrangement of 3 or at most 5 candles, preferably of varying heights. Walmart sells inexpensive white pillar candles, or Hobby Lobby puts their candles (lots of colors to choose from there) on sale relatively often. Michaels has some perfectly sized wooden trays for this right now. Fill the base with sand or pebbles or moss (all can be cheaply found at your local Dollar Tree) for a nice organic look, though if you're going to use moss, be careful not to burn down the house.
5. Make a paper flower arrangement
I mean, of course, right? Clearly there are a lot of different types of paper flowers out there, and if you want something that really wows, I'd go with a professional (hint hint, nudge nudge). But if you're going for that, "I maked these" effect, spiral roses are one of the easiest to make. In fact, you could also just use them to decorate the bag/box that you've got your purchased item in instead to create a sweet personal touch. There are a number of tutorials out there (simply search "rolled paper flowers"), but this one from HGTV or this one from Dozi will do the trick. Any paper will work. You will need to invest in a glue gun, though. Or steal one from your mom.
6. Give her a poem
If you happen to have a gift with poetry, you could write her one yourself, but sometimes it's best left to the professionals. As Elizabeth Bennet tells us in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, " I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love...if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away." But a sweet poem written by a master can make any girl smile. Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 is lovely for the erudite, and Browning's Sonnet 26 is one of my very favorites. For the modern reader, e. e. cummings "i carry your heart" is moving even as it's confusing (he's also got some great naughty poems if you're into that sort of thing) but I've always loved Pablo Neruda's love poetry, especially his poem "Your Laughter."
So there you have it. 6 heartfelt diy ideas for the frugal Valentine giver sure to make your lady friend melt, no matter how long you've been together. What kind of diy Valentine projects have you done in the past?