Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine Exchange

A couple years ago I was having quite a sad Valentine's Day. I'd had a long day at work and came home to an empty house and dinner alone because Larry was working overnight at the hospital. When I picked up the mail I found a hand addresses envelope someone had slipped in my mail. I tore it open while still standing at the mailbox and discovered a handmade Valentine from my friend Jessica Anderson. Inside she wrote a list of ten things that she loved about me. It was amazing how much love I felt at that moment, and I walked inside to sent the card on my mantle. Throughout the next week, I noticed cards from Jessica at alot of other friends homes, each with a list of the top ten thing Jessica loved about them. Each displayed in a place where it could me seen and make the recipient smile. I'm sure Jessica lifted a lot of hearts that Valentine's Day and I've thought of that every Valentine's since.

This month I was assigned to teach Relief Society in church, and I was able to pick any topic I wanted. After a lot of thought, I decided to teach about love and even though it's not exactly spiritual, I decided to talk about Valentine's Day a little bit too. Many people hate Valentine's Day because it can be so commercial, and it can be such a disappointment if you've had a recent breakup or your loved one isn't around. I've always loved Valentine's Day and I think it's partially due to the fact that my dad always gave each of the kids in my family a Valentine telling them why he was proud of them and how much he loved them. Valentine's was less about whether or not a boyfriend brought roses and more about spreading the love. Larry says that Valentine's Day is a girl holiday when every guy is trying to please the women in their life, bu tI think it should be less about what my husband does for me and more about looking at it as an opportunity to make sure everyone around me knows how much I love them. Christmas time is all about showing Christlike love, but we lose the Christmas spirit so quickly. Valentine's Day is the perfect reminder to be a little bit kinder to everyone.

I decided to take my own advice and make sure some of my friends know how much I love them, and what better way to do that than with another party, right? I decided to have a Valentine's exchange. The whole things was really simple. I asked each guest to bring Valenetine's to exchange and I updated them with the final guest list so they would know how many Valentines to bring and who to address them to.

Since the weather was so cold I had hot water ready for hot chocolate (with my favorite peppermint syrup).

And I had a cookie decorating station with all sorts of Valentine's Day candy and sprinkles and a few different kinds of frosting so everyone could decorate their own heart-shaped cookies and take some home too (which saved me a lot of time decorating them myself).The only extra decoration that I put up was this little garland that I made with paper hearts cut out of all different pink and red scrapbooking papers and I only made it because I had all these hearts left over from my Relief Society lesson. I just sewed a straight line across them on my sewing machine so it only took a few minutes to make.The only other prep I did was to make my own Valentines. I decided to use a Martha Stewart pattern to make felt fortune cookies and they were really easy to make. I think they would be fun for other special occasions too like baby showers or wedding favors. I glued a wire across a 4 inch circle of felt and glued a ribbon over it to cover it. Then I printed out a couple of different Valentine's Day forntunes Then you just fold them up

I wanted to put them in little Chinese take-out boxes, but I couldn't find any affordable enough so I used these little polka dots boxes for wedding favors that I found at Target, and they fit perfectly.

Then I just wrapped each one with a red ribbon and sealed them with some cardstock with the recipients name. The only hard part of the whole party was that I couldn't ivite everyone that I wanted because I had to keep the guest list resonably small since the guests had to make Valentines for everyone coming. Creed ended up having his own guest too because Meg was able to bring her daughter Aylssa, and he was thrilled.

Yep, his Ladies Man shirt says it all.

I provided some melamine plate for everyone to gather their new Valentines on and then after everyone had a good chance to visit and snack, we exchanged Valentines. I wanted everyone to have a chance to talk as they exchanged so we did it like speed dating. I had a timer and let everyone chat for two minutes and then they had to move on the the next person. I think it worked really well and I appreciated having a chance to talk with everyone.

I told the guests that their Valentines could be as simple or elaborate as they wanted, the point was really just to have a chance to get together to visit, but of course they went all out. I managed to get a picture of each of the guests with their Valentines except Julia, who was sick and just had to drop her Valentines off. Here's Cat who did have a Chinese take-out box full of her handmade treats

Megan used this Martha Stewart idea to make heart-shaped Valentines that fold up into little envelopes

Greta and her daughter made sugar cookies for everyone.

Nikki spoiled everyone with a kit to prepare them for spring; nail polish, toe seperators, and a little tube of foot scrub.

Heather made giant Hershey kisses out of rice crispy treats and slipped notes in on the paper that sticks out of the top.

Liz made cupcakes

Meg and Alyssa brought buckeyes

Katherine made some playdough and her daughter helped her cut out heart-shapes to hand out to everyone.

Brooke with three kinds of homemade truffles.
Brittany made lollipop cookies
Eva mastered in printmaking and she cut up some of her screenprinting scraps to make her valentines. Then she put them int he bottom of paper bags and cut the tops off and used them as envelopes. So cool!

The best part was just seeing lots of my friends.
I hope that they all had a fun time too.


Anonymous said...

Why? Why don't we live by each other. With our creative powers together we would be unbeatable! Ilol.
Also, why don't I have money so that when I see things like a red polka dot tea pot( I got one for myself) I could get one for you too! Because it would be perfect with your dishes.
Your party looks amazing. Wish I could have been there.
Love you little sister!


Noelle said...

Steph, the party looks like a huge success! I was amazed at everyone's creativity, I'm going to have to check this post again when next year's Valentine's day comes around. The photos on here are awesome too!

Kim said...

What fun! I'm glad you had a happy Valentine's day. I'm sure everyone wants to be your friend too. You inspire me to want to have my own party. How much advance notice did you give? I'm going to have one next year with you here. We can have it at my house and we'll both invite friends. Won't it be fun?

Heather said...

That was the best Valentine's Party - I had so much fun. But I have the best time at all of your parties, you really know how to treat your guests right! Thanks again Steph!

Charity said...

There are plenty of Hospitals in Alaska....why can't you move up here so number 1, I can meet you and number 2, I can have a fun valentines day party with you? Hope you got your recipe package ok. Happy Valentines Day


Melissa said...

How fun! You have such fun ideas. It looks like everyone had a blast!

Molly Malia said...

i love martha stewart living!
i can't wait til you get out here!
happy valentines!

Lysle and Kamiko said...

SWEET! Love your brain! Your cards of Creed are super cute too. Where do you have the energy to do all now I'm really feeling lazy.

Britain said...

I am going to second Kamiko on the lazy front. It was all I could do to get the kids to sign their valentines for their school buddies this year. And I hope you don't mind me using your comment section to send kisses to Kamiko and Heather too since I don't have their emails. Happy Valentine's Day everyone. We Miss Columbus Friends!

lilliandcrew said...

ok, so you are CRAZY creative! your blog is amazing with lots of great ideas! hope all is well!!

lilliandcrew said...

p.s. i mean crazy in a really good way... shawn saw what i wrote and thought it sounded bad :)

lisa (lost pezhead) said...

it looks like you did a GREAT job! i'm sad i missed it, hopefully i won't be sick for the next party.

i also will always remember jessica's thoughtful top 10 list cards!

Megan said...

Next time you make the fortune cookies (is there ever a next time? Do you replicate good ideas?) use the little twistie ties. Super easy, and saves a step. I made boxes for my kids with 10 things i loved about them...My son (19) called me TWICE to thank me; my daughter took hers to school to show all her friends...and here I thought they knew already...just goes to show ya!
Happy valentine's day!

Malinovka said...

Oh, Steph, what would I do without your blog. You are so amazing and so talented. Thanks for sharing part of yourself with all of us! I LOVE your Valentines ideas, and I'm still oogling over those Creed valentines--too cute! Thanks for your inspiration!


ellen said...

What a fun idea...I wish I was one of your friends! :)

J.R., Meg, and Alyssa said...

Thanks for another one of your fabulous parties! Alyssa had a grand old time with Creed and all. It is going to be a sad sad day when we don't live close anymore. We will all have creative 'Steph' ideas to take where ever we end up though, right?!

~wenhether~ said...

I made those fortune cookies for valentines as well! They were so fun to make!!

Calvin Family said...

I am in awe of you!! WOW!

Alicia said...

Boy, do I miss living near you! What a fun party!

Cristin said...

Oh my! Once again another fabulous party idea...

...all your card ideas are adorable too!

The Snavelys said...

Stephanie, you are so creative! I wish I could be more like you! Just wanted to let you know that you did such a good job on your talk and lesson this month!

A. McF said...

Very fun!