I know it’s only half-way through January, but in our house it’s already time to start prepping for Valentine’s Day. Between the two older kids, I’ve got sixty-five valentines to make, so I like to get an early start. While I realize it would only take a ten-minute trip to Walgreens to buy valentines for our kids’ classes, I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m just not the buy-your-valentines type of mom. I’ve made them each year since preschool and I’m not about to give in now. No offense to those who do buy; this is just how I roll.
This morning’s circus (a.k.a, the getting-to-school-on-time routine) was too crazy to even consider cleaning up breakfast beforehand, so after returning home from dropping everyone off, I started in on clearing up the mess. Just as I was about to drop the empty cereal box into the recycling bin, I had an epiphany: Hey, why not make our valentines out of this? It saves money, time (in driving to the store to buy card stock), and extends the life of something that would have been recycled. Kind of like a valentine for the planet, too.
What follows is a tutorial on how to make 24 valentines from an empty cereal box. In addition to the cereal box, you’ll also need:
- straight-edge scissors
- decorative-edge scissors *
- glue stick
- transparent tape
- red or pink paper*
- glitter glue *
- stamp pad (red ink preferably)
- valentine-themed rubber stamp
- lollipops (I used Trader Joe’s organic lollipops. I suggest those or whichever similarly food-dye-free versions you can find.)
I know that seems like a long list of supplies but if you’re into doing any kind of crafts—and if you have kids you probably are—you’re likely to have most of these supplies on hand already. The items marked with an asterisk (*) are optional, but I think they do help jazz up the plainness of the cereal box.
Step 1: Disassembling the cereal box
The first thing you’ll want to do is to cut open the cereal box so that it’s one flat rectangular piece. To do this, open up both ends of the cereal box and then cut along one of the side panels. Next, cut out the two side-panel pieces and trim off the bottom tabs. Set these aside. You’ll be left with two long rectangular pieces. Place one of the side panels on the remaining front and back cereal box pieces and use it as a template to measure the other strips you’ll want to cut out. Cut along your lines until you have eight strips.
Step 2: Preparing the valentines
Using your ruler, measure four inches along the length of each panel and make a mark. Draw a horizontal cutting line across the panels at each four-inch interval. You should have three sections on each panel. Using the straight-edge scissors, cut along the lines to create the four-inch sections. Your finished valentines will come from these sections. Next, cut along one edge of the valentine with the decorative-edge scissors.
Fold the red or pink paper and cut out hearts along the edge. If you plan on including a stamped message on your valentines, you’ll need to be sure that your hearts aren’t too big. If you won’t be using a stamp you can make the hearts bigger, just be sure that they will fit into the space above the hole and below the top edge of the valentine. Use the hole-punch to create a hole in the center bottom edge of the valentine about a quarter of an inch above the decorative edge.
Step 3: Assembling the valentines
Now that you’ve got the valentine pieces more or less prepared, it’s time to start putting them together. First, put some glue on the heart and place it in the center of the valentine. If you’re using a stamp, place your message in the space between the heart and the hole. (Note, in the image below I punched the hole after putting the stamp and heart on. Do it in whichever order you prefer; the placement will be the same. ) Flip the valentine over and insert a lollipop through the hole. Tape the lollipop to the valentine to secure it.
Step 4: Decorating the valentines
Depending on your mood and amount of free time you have, you could stop there. The valentine’s are assembled, they’ve got a sweet treat inside—no one would fault you for things as they are. Since I’m a big fan of squeezable glitter glue, I’ve decided to “enhance” these basic valentines by adding a few dots of glitter to each for a bit of pizzazz. Using the steps above I was able to make 24 valentines. While I’ve still got a few to go, since I’ve started early, there’s still time to empty a couple more boxes of cereal to make the rest. If you’ve come up just a few short, use some of the pieces you set aside from Step 1 to make some unique valentines. Since these will be different from the rest, you could reserve them for teachers.
And that’s it! Now you can help spread the Valentine love by sharing this post with the tools below or leaving a comment. Please be kind. I’m new here.