On Kids Making Their Own Valentines and 5 Underachieving Valentines Ideas

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Psssst. Lean in. I’m talking to you, mother or father or guardian of small children. You’re doing a great job. I know you’re really, really tired sometimes, and part of the reason is that it’s exhausting to do a bunch of little mundane but very important things like cut the grapes in half I mean quarters so your kids don’t choke on them. I know it’s hard to keep track of “pajama day” and “crazy hat day” and “bring this form back with two dollars and fifty cents for pizza day.” That’s why I want you to give your children and you a gift this year. Listen closely, because I think it’s a secret you might not know: you don’t have to make elaborate valentines for your child’s class. You don’t! It’s not in the law or in the handbook for “the only way to succeed as a parent.” I promise. I’ve seen dozens of really really adorable ideas on Pinterest that you could make, but you don’t have to. You don’t have to glue little masks on tootsie pops (I swear this is a thing. Google it.)  or make individual baggies with 3 marshmallows, 4 chocolate chips and a piece of licorice cut up into tiny hearts. In fact, I would argue that by making valentines for your children’s classmates you might be taking away the opportunity for them to do it themselves. I hereby decree, therefore, that staying up late into the night making valentines for the class is not something you need to do and that the pressure you might feel to do it is something you can (and must) let go of. It’s ok. Go against the culture and have confidence that if you do, if you say “nope, my child will make his own valentines and sign his own name on them” (gasp!) you are giving your child a wonderful gift that is at least as valuable as the gift you would be giving him if you made him a bunch of beautiful valentines to hand out to the class. Give it a try! Don’t know how to do something this revolutionary? Check out these
5 “Underachieving Yet Authentic unValentines That Children Can Actually Make with Limited Parental Involvement”
1. Index cards I: on the front draw a picture, on the back write a heartfelt reason the child is glad to know his or her classmate. If the child is too young to write, he or she can dictate to the parent.
2. Index cards II: on the front, a sticker. Yep. a sticker. Just one. Ok, maybe two or three. Just… stickers. The child picks it off the sheet of stickers and sticks it on the front. On the back – a note or even just his or her name signed.
3. Heart sponge: cut out a heart shape from a sponge (parent can do this) – kid stamps some hearts on pieces of construction paper and signs his/her name.
4. The supreme “un-valentine”: give your child whatever supplies you have on hand: paper, feathers, crayons, paint, doilies, sequins, — whatever — and let their imagination run wild.
5. The “It’s not a cop out, I promise your chid will be fine” – Go to the local drugstore, get a pack of the fill-in-your-name ones and have your children fill them out. Done.
You can do it! Easy valentines for everyone. You might even decide they look good enough to put on Pinterest!

3 Volunteer Recognition Gifts for Sunday School/VBS Teachers — Less than $2 Each (2013)


I always think a little recognition goes a long way. As a pastor, I see the many unpaid hours all of my volunteers put in on so many programs… Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, the list goes on. Certainly none of the volunteers does it for the recognition , but I think a little token of appreciation is a great thing. I have a few preferences when it comes to recognition gifts:

1. Consumable. Something to eat, something to plant, something to drink. I don’t believe in giving people one more thing to put on the shelf.

2, Inexpensive. As much as I wish my budget (or the church budget) could support big dollar gifts, we can’t. Has to be inexpensive.

I have a whole file of ideas like this that I’ve found online which fit the above criteria. Here are the ones I used for 2013.

Hope you enjoy them, along with the links to printables so you can make them yourself!

Seed Packets – Faith Makes You Grow

For these, I just bought seed packets at Lowes ($1.78 each) and printed out THIS printable. I was having trouble getting it to print in color that day, so I had to do black and white. I was very low tech and just taped it on the front. Part of the reason for this is that I needed people to be able to lift up the label to see the flowers and the directions underneath. Otherwise I may have glued it on the front so that you couldn’t see the tape. It still worked out just fine. The nice thing about this one is that I was able to talk about how teaching is sometimes like planting seeds… we do the work of planting, but God waters and provides the sunshine. The wildflowers were also Texas wildflowers, which is kind of neat.


For VBS this year, I used two different thank yous, first THIS package of almonds with a label that says “we’re nuts about you.”  To make these I bought several boxes of 100 calorie almond packets. (It wasn’t important to me that they were the 100 calorie kind, but that kind was the right size for the printable.) There were regular almonds and also the cocoa almonds (yum!). You can get them online HERE. I printed the labels in color and cut them. Then I held each label up with the almond packet and punched a hole in the center. Then I tied the label with a piece of green and white yarn I had lying around. The label says “Thank you for your service” and I signed it “VBS” kids. The teachers enjoyed it!


At our VBS we also had some younger helpers (ages 10-16). I wanted them to have something different just for then and, well, I wanted it to be candy. I simply bought the Movie Theater style boxes of Whoppers (99 cents each at the store! Link to Amazon has them priced hirgher) and taped on the labels. Simple!  (Note: to get the labels, which were a part of a pack of a variety of other labels, I had to sign up for a free “ ” account. I’d never used them before, but it was easy enough to do.)


All in all, a lot of people were recognized in easy ways for not a lot of money! Hope these ideas are useful to others!

Printable Links

Seed Packets: Faith Is Like a Little Seed 

Almonds: We’re Nuts About You

Whoppers: You Were a Whopper of Help

Other Links:

Sow Seeds of Love Wildflower Packets — These are interesting because they are designed for weddings, but you could just buy them and give them out as appreciation gifts and skip the whole printable thing.


UPDATE: Here’s a 4th $2 teacher appreciation gift with tea and plastic tumblers.

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