Valentine's Day is right around the corner. This year, instead of pumping your sweetie full of sugar or gifting red and pink tokens of love that will end up in the landfill by March, why not give nature-themed valentines made with materials you can find right outside of your front door? These ideas are easy enough to make with your kids and sentimental enough that they might just end up displayed somewhere special all year long. Head outside for a little love-filled scavenging and try your hand at one or more of these nature themed valentines.
Valentine's Day Rocks
Forget store-bought valentines; painting rocks and stones is a great way to express your love this holiday. Suitable for any age, toddlers can finger paint heart-shaped rocks and older pre-teens can print love poems on larger stones. To create a Valentine's Day rock of your own, head outdoors with your family and collect the perfect rocks, then gather your art supplies and get to work. It's that simple and that fun.
Leaf rubbings make beautiful and natural valentines that everyone will enjoy, plus they're simple and only require a few materials. Have your child head out into the backyard and find the perfect leaf. If you live in an area of the country that doesn't have many live leaves this time of year, houseplant clippings work great too. Once you've found some suitable options, place them on a hard surface like a table and put a white sheet of paper on top. Then, take a crayon, pastel pencil, colored pencil or marker and gently color on the paper over the leaf, creating an imprint of the leaf below. Your favorite Valentine's Day message can be written next to the imprint and voila! You have the perfect natural valentine.
Twig and Stick Picture Frames
A twig and stick picture frame makes a great Valentine's Day gift for a family. To make this nature-themed valentine, all you'll need is four skinny twigs, glue and a treasured family photo. Take the photo and glue two of the twigs on the left and right edges. Once the glue has dried, glue the two remaining twigs to the top and bottom of the photo, creating a natural frame. A piece of fishing wire or string can be glued or tied to the twigs, or a magnet can be adhered to the back, to allow this family treasure to be displayed on a wall or the refrigerator.
Evergreen Heart Wreath
Give the gift of nature-themed décor this Valentine's Day by creating an evergreen heart wreath. To start, have your kids collect clippings from evergreen bushes and trees in your yard or around the neighborhood. Once you've gathered your clippings, take florist wire and shape it into a heart. Then use the florist wire to tie your evergreen clippings onto the heart-shaped frame, creating an evergreen wreath in the shape of a heart. This lovely wreath makes the perfect Valentine's Day gift for teachers and childcare providers.
Homemade Gift Certificates
Instead of plastic hearts and red roses, give the gift of time spent together in the great outdoors this Valentine's Day. It's easy and fun to create homemade "gift certificates" out of construction paper. Gift certificates can be redeemed for a weekend camping trip, family hike or a trip to the local nature center. No matter what your gift certificates are good for, they'll encourage a fun day together outside as a family.
Seed Packet Valentines
Seeds and homemade seed packets make great Valentine's Day gifts for the classroom. Buy a few packages of your favorite seeds (sunflowers and wildflowers are fun ideas), and divide them into small envelopes. Next, decorate the envelopes with fun nature-themed Valentine's Day puns like "love is sprouting," and "let love grow."
Make a Heart-Shaped Birdfeeder
Bird lovers will adore receiving a handmade, heart-shaped suet feeder this Valentine's Day. Suet is a food for birds that is necessary in the fall and winter when they need more calories to maintain their body heat and energy levels. To make heart-shaped suet for birds, purchase a plain suet cake from a bird supply store or garden center. Melt the suet on your stovetop with 1 cup of chunky peanut butter. When the suet and peanut butter are of a liquid consistency, add 3 cups of ground cornmeal and a half cup of white or wheat flour. Mix well and then allow the mixture to cool slightly to thicken before pouring it into heart-shaped molds. Refrigerate the suet until you are ready to give it away as a valentine.
Create Valentines out of Rocks, Sticks, Feathers and Nuts
For a fun and simple valentine, collect rocks, sticks, feathers and nuts from your yard or local park and tie them onto a piece of card stock with decorative string. Each piece of scavenged material can include a message that corresponds with an item like, "You rock," "Let's stick together," "We're birds of a feather" or "I'm nuts about you." These valentines are especially popular with toddlers who love collecting rocks, sticks and other natural wonders.
Give the Gift of Herbs
Small potted herbs make great Valentine's Day gifts and can be used for cooking all year round. Combined with a Valentine's Day note like, "We were mint to be" or "I love you for all thyme," and you've got a fun and functional Valentine's Day gift sure to charm any recipient.
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