I've sent out Valentines my entire life; sometimes purchased, sometimes handmade. The first couple of years of Abbott's life I made photo cards, and when he (and later Cal, too) was old enough to make things, we made them together. Some years, I purchased elaborate supplies, and my creative children did with them as they saw fit (as they should), and generally not according to my vision for the cards. Last year we purchased some from the drug store, as the year before it had been a struggle to get the boys to make them in a timely manner. Making artwork for the joy of it is one thing; making mandatory art is another, for Abbott, during the school year when he's busy with homework obligations. I decided getting them to fill out the 'to' and 'from' was enough.
Over the past few weeks I put some thought into what to do for our valentines this year. I came up with something personal and, I think, in the intended spirit of the holiday. I spent an hour or so last week at school taking individual pictures of Abbott and Cal with each of their classmates. I purchased some large, heavy, single-sided cardstock, a glue pen, and a glitter set. I had the boys think of something they like or appreciate about each classmate, write it out with the glue pen, and sprinkle glitter over the writing for a bit of a decorative effect. We then attached the picture of them with that classmate onto the card.
I know we'll be glad to have the pictures to remember these friends by, and will be better for the exercise in gratitude, in reflecting on why we appreciate those in our lives.