For years at The Carle, the Art Studio’s annual Valentine-Making Party has been a way for families to spend time making together while also avoiding the stress and mess of helping children make their classroom Valentines.
Since this event has not only been helpful for families and small friend groups, but lots of fun too, I thought I’d walk you through a Valentine-Making Party in the Art Studio. We hope our event might inspire fun ways for your family, friends, library, class, home school group, Girl Scout Troup, or whatever group to celebrate love and creativity together. You could even put one of these on for a Valentine’s Day themed wedding!
The day before our event, we set up a large table for all our materials and tools. We set it up much like you would a dinner buffet.
Instead of plates and silverware at the starting end, we placed a festive welcome sign with instructions, small empty baskets for collecting materials, and paper bags containing blank cards for our guests to use. The paper bags included three folded cards (cardstock cut in half then folded) and seven flat cards (cardstock cut into quarters).
On one side of the table we placed trays of collage paper: warm colors, cool colors, clipart, Valentine-y sayings that we made up or found, black and white patterns, paper doilies, pieces of old maps, and painted paper scraps. A few years we even had processed postage stamps from a stamp collection a staff member gave us.
One of the trays included pictures that photocopied from a clip art book. We paired them up with Valentine-y friendship sayings like "I'm glad you're in by school!" and I'm buggy for you, Valentine!" If you don't have a clip art book, try a Google image search for "free vintage clipart ___." Fill in the blank with whatever kinds of images you want to find. We also photocopied a few sayings that we created with vintage-looking letter stamps.
Along the other two edges of the table we put crayons, markers, colored pencils, black and white gel pens, gluesticks, white glue, dot stickers, plain and funky-edged scissors, and punches of various shapes. We go into detail about some of these materials in Our Favorite Materials posts, so check them out if you want more specifics about the materials we love to use.
In the middle of the table we put a tray with Valentine inspiration and a printout of instructions for a simple folded Valentine using the tracing of a child’s hand.
The great thing about setting up Valentine-making materials this way is that it creates a place for experimentation and fun. There's no right or wrong way to make a Valentine when the materials are available with little instruction or expectation.
To make your event even more festive, you might offer snacks or treats for your guests to take with them or enjoy during a making break. Just beware that having open drink containers around art supplies can get tricky because of spills. Wet cards can make for sad artists!
If you're interested in some historical Valentine inspiration, check out the fascinating cards in this four minute video of a collector sharing a few special pieces from her antique collection on the History Channel's website. You might also like to use the Google search: "the history of Valentine's Day cards" to kickstart your own research. Also, look up Esther Howland, who graduated from Mt. Holyoke college in 1847. She is considered the "Mother of the American Valentine," having created a successful business assembling Valentine cards to sell in the U.S.
Here’s to lovingly making something with and for the special people in your life!