Around this time of year, my friend Sophie and I find ourselves reminiscing about the good ol’ days of elementary school, when we would make construction paper valentines for each of our friends. Though we were clumsy with a bottle of Elmer’s glue and overzealous with the glitter, we worked so hard to create perfect notes and cards that all had unique, personalized touches.
Last year, Sophie didn’t want her two school-aged daughters to have to rely on pre-made valentines featuring cartoon characters. She wanted them to learn the value of making something by hand—and to know just what it’s like to get so passionate about cutting out the perfect (non-lopsided!) paper heart. So we jumped into party-planning mode, and organized a Valentine’s Day gift and snack extravaganza!
The weekend before Valentine’s Day, Sophie invited her daughters’’ best friends and their parents over for a crafting and DIY party. In all, we had about 11 kiddos and 9 parents, each family volunteering to bring one item from a party supply wishlist. And then we all gathered to make delicious Valentine’s Day treats and handmade valentine cards—just like when we were kids.
Heart-Shaped Marshmallow Crispies
Kids (and kids-at-heart) can’t get enough of ooey-gooey marshmallow cereal treats—it’s a staple at most classroom parties. But we thought this classic treat deserved a decorative spin for the holiday of love—so we pulled out the heart-shaped tins and got to work.
- 6 tbsp butter, unsalted
- 80 large marshmallows
- 12 c. crispy rice cereal
- Cooking spray
- 1 c. white chocolate chips
- Heart-shaped sprinkles
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add in the marshmallows and stir continuously until melted and well-mixed. Slowly add in the cereal, stirring continuously for an even mixture.
- Spoon the mixture into a heart-shaped cupcake pan coated with non-stick cooking spray. You can also spoon the mixture into a 9 x 13 rectangular glass baking dish and use a cookie cutter to get heart-shaped treats.
- Let the treats cool for 5 minutes. Remove the treats from the pan.
- Heat the chocolate chips over a double-boiler.
- Once the chocolate is thoroughly melted, dip the face of each of the rice crispy treats into the chocolate. Immediately dust with sprinkles and let the chocolate harden.
This recipe makes about 12 treats—and is so easy for the kids to help with!
Hot Chocolate Spoons
Sophie’s girls love to enjoy cozy treats in the winter months. To warm their little hearts, we made customized hot chocolate dipping spoons.
We started with about three cups of milk chocolate chips, which we melted over the double boiler. Next, we dipped pink plastic spoons into the melted chocolate one at a time. Laying the coated spoons on a sheet of wax paper, we had each partygoer sprinkle a few spoons with mini marshmallows, heart-shaped sprinkles, and crushed peppermint candies. We let the spoons sit for about 15 minutes before wrapping each in a plastic sleeve tied with string.
For the class party, we picked up a jumbo-sized box of hot chocolate mix, and one of the parents volunteered to bring in her electric kettle. The students had a blast watching the chocolate melt in their cocoa, releasing marshmallows and sprinkles into their mugs.
Loving Fruit Kabobs
It’s not surprising to find yourself surrounded by delicious sweet treats for kids to enjoy at any Valentine’s Day get-together. And while we couldn’t wait to dig into all the sugary goodness at our DIY party, we also thought the parents would appreciate it if we snuck in some healthy snacks, too. Sophie had the wonderful idea of making heart-shaped fruit kabobs.
- 1 watermelon
- 1 honeydew
- 1 cantaloupe
- 1 pineapple
- 1 large basket of strawberries
- 1 bunch of purple grapes
- A heart-shaped cookie cutter
- Kabob skewers
- Start by cutting the melons into triangular slices. From the triangles, use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out as many pieces as you can.
- Peel and core the pineapple. Cut the pineapple into 1-inch slices. Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to remove heart-shaped pineapple pieces.
- Wash the strawberries and pull off the stems and leaves. Using a paring knife, cut a V into the top of each strawberry. Cut the strawberry in half from top to bottom so you’re left with two strawberry halves, each shaped like a heart.
- Push a kabob skewer through one of each of the different fruit pieces.
- Wash the grapes. Cover the pointed end of each skewer with one grape.
We kept the skewers chilled in the refrigerator until the Valentine’s Day party. The heart-shaped pieces were so cute, the students didn’t even seem to notice they were eating something healthy!
Valentines Crafted from the Heart
With the snacks made and looking enticingly delicious, we turned our attention to the actual valentines themselves. Sure, it’s easier to grab a box of pre-made Valentine’s Day cards from a shelf, but that misses the point of Valentine’s Day. We wanted to bring the good ol’ days of construction paper hearts and gluing on glitter to our modern kids.
Each party attendee brought one treat ingredient and one item for the valentines craft table, so we ended up with a great mixture of fun items including:
- Multi-colored construction paper
- Dried pasta
- Pipe cleaners
- Google eyes
- Pattern scissors
It was exciting to watch each student come up with his or her own valentine idea and make a unique card for each of their friends. The kids got to show off their creativity and the parents got to enjoy an afternoon getting to know one another and their children’s friends.
Not only was the Valentine’s DIY party a chance to spend quality time hanging out and chatting, but it was a time to get creative and enjoy the spirit of the holiday. Sophie later told me how each of the students eagerly presented their handmade card to their friends while devouring our treats, and I hear her kids (and their friends) are already clamoring for a similar party this year.
Want more ideas on how to make Valentine’s Day extra special this year? Let the Elves help you get creative and gift straight from the heart with their downloadable coupon printables. Get even more ideas on our Facebook, Instagram @Elfstergram, and Twitter @Elfster