19 DIY Valentines That Are Way More Heartfelt Than Anything You'll Find at the Store

When my sister and I were kids, our mother wouldn’t buy cool cards for us to give out at school on Valentine's Day. Instead, she insisted we make our own. Make them! The indignity of giving construction-paper hearts with crayon drawings and hand-written messages to classmates who were handing out store-bought, die-cut cartoon characters, well, it left its mark.

Fast-forward some years, and now my pity is all for the children whose effort-challenged parents do just pick up packs of paper-thin drugstore valentines. Yes, the holiday is contrived, but we’re not kids anymore, so if we’re going to participate, let’s do it for real. Making our own valentines shows our friends, our partners, our sisters, our grandparents that we think they’re worth the effort. What’s more, it’s fun. (And don’t underestimate the gratification that comes from people saying “You made this?”)

If nothing else, we can all do our part to tweak a little of the commercialism out of any major holiday, yes? Now let’s embrace our 8-year-old selves as we scroll through these 19 DIY valentine ideas — and then let’s get crafting.

Message in a Tea Cup

A set of tea bags embellished with personalized tags would make a sweet — and practical — gift for friends. Just replace the tags on store-bought tea with your own, or if you’re feeling ambitious, make your own tea bags and fill them with favorite flavors.

Image and DIY: Miss Renaissance

Wood-Block Prints

There are stamps, and then there are hand-carved wood blocks. This one and many more from Blockwallah are made by artisans in rural India.

Image: Blockwallah

Hand-Drawn Illustrations

This is easier than it looks, which is a good thing when it comes to hand-making anything. And the possibilities are pretty much endless for personalizing the illustrations for all your giftees.

Image and DIY: A Beautiful Mess

Scrolling Love Note

This unique delivery system for a love note is sure to get a smile.

Image and DIY: Brittni Mehlhoff/Paper & Stitch

Matchbox Candies

Package candy or a tiny gift in matchboxes done up with clever labels or pretty paper.

Image and DIY: Ciera Design

Origami Hearts

Traditional meets modern-day with these origami hearts.

Image and DIY: Omiyage

Spoon Feed It

Embellish your card with kitschy cutlery.

Image and DIY: Kittenhood

Celery Hearts

Who noticed that celery stalks are shaped like hearts? Crafters, that’s who. I like the imperfectly perfect result. And if you want to design your own stamp, carve a potato.

Image and DIY: The Merry Thought

3-D Astronaut

A punny option for a brother or a buddy.

Image and DIY: Dandee

Mini Felt Envelopes

Tiny felt envelopes are the right size for candies or a folded note, tucked into a pocket or bag.

Image and DIY: The Purl Bee

Sticky Notes

Create a trail of love notes for your loved one to discover throughout the day.

Image and DIY: Eat Drink Chic

Wrapped with Love

Whatever you’re giving, presentation is part of the gift. And this particular package can live on from its spot on the shelf.

Image: Juniper Books

Felt-Tipped Arrows

Easy-to-make cupid’s arrows are a great delivery system for little love notes — make several and tie them together in a bunch.

Image and DIY: Sugar & Cloth

Map to Your Heart

I love the way a map brings some weight and non-tradition to the predictable Valentine’s Day symbol. Pick the location of your first date or another special memory.

Image: Swoon Studio

Fabric Hearts

Fabric and paper — two of my favorite things. Visit a good fabric or quilting store, pick up some remnants, and get creative.

Image and DIY: Sally J Shim

Dolled-Up Rocks

You kind of can’t go wrong with gold paint and glitter, hearts and bows, and lots of pink. Mix it up.

Image: Wiley Valentine

Mosaic Hearts

These daintily sprinkled teardrops and triangles have the look of stained glass.

Image and DIY: Small for Big

Pillowboxes

This easy packaging for small gifts lends itself to embellishing. (I’ve seen this done with toilet paper rolls too — talk about upcycling.)

Image and DIY: The Proper Pinwheel

Book of Matches

For couples who aren’t into cutesy hearts and flowers. Or for couples who share a love of smoking. Either way.

Image and DIY: The View from 5’2”