Growing up, I never made it to one Valentine's Day party at school. Not one. Which was a big bummer because I really like Valentine's Day -- all of the crafts and cupcakes and cupid glee -- but I was always sick. It was really strange. As Valentine's Day approached each year, we always joked, "Gee, I wonder if you'll make it this year?" And I never did. Even in my adult years, I always tend to get some horrid bug around this time of the year. It's probably the weather: Everything is so stagnantly cold and downright dreary.
This year, I hope to make it to my preschooler's party so I can finally participate in a Valentine's Day card exchange. Because she is obsessed with anything that has wheels (more specifically trains), we decided to make Thomas the Train cards.
I found the Thomas image on the internet and designed the interior of the card using QuarkExpress 7. (I first tried creating the card using scrapbook techniques, but that was going nowhere fast, so I decided to turn to the computer.) I customized each name, created one long PDF and printed them out on white card stock. I cut them all using my Fiskars rotary paper cutter that I use for making cards and invitations.
I had some scrap blue paper that happened to match perfectly and cut that one-half inch larger than the middle portion: 5.5 x 3.75. I used double-sided tape tabs, plus a little glue stick on the corners, to adhere the two pieces and put it in a brown craft envelope and placed some leftover Thomas stickers (from another project) on the bottom corner.
If you have a Thomas fan, use the Thomas template I created for customized Valentine's Day cards. You can also use the James template I created (for some variety), but my daughter insisted Thomas (and only Thomas) would grace her Valentine's Day cards.
To make, simply:
- Print out the template and trim it to size.
- Either adhere it to another colored piece of paper (sized 5.5 x 3.75 or the size to fit your envelope) like I did or simply use it as-is.
- Write the names in the solid bars (or on the back of the card), or if you know how to use the Advanced Editing Menu in Adobe Acrobat, you can add your own name to the top.
- Put them into envelopes and your child is equipped with his or her own customized Thomas or James Valentine's Day cards.
It's that easy!
I was asked this year to create the game for my preschooler's party and knowing three-year olds (sigh), I soon realized that my options were VERY limited. The teacher told me that bingo always works well, so instead of spending the extra money to buy a bingo game, I used what I had laying around to make my own. I whipped this up super-quick, so it's sort of plain, with no bells and whistles, but if you've ever seen what preschoolers can do to paper, you'll understand why!
I created eight template cards for the games, using Photoshop to create the different color hearts and QuarkExpress to create the actual game "board." I changed the layout of each card so there is only one winner (hopefully...cross your fingers!) each round. I plan to use leftover conversation hearts I bought bulk a few weeks back from the grocery store for the markers.
I numbered the back of each card and prepared eight sandwich baggies that contain the corresponding color heart markers, as well as the number template the bag should be paired with. I printed the templates out on white paper, trimmed them exactly as I did the cards above and added a little heart sticker (for a touch of whimsy!). Here is a picture of everything before I trimmed the boards:
It wasn't until later that I realized I needed prizes for the winners and with literally no time left to get anything, I cut out scrap pieces of paper and put random puffy stickers on them and made sure I had enough for everyone to win twice.
If you need a quick game, download the eight Valentine's Day templates I created.
To make, simply:
- Print out the boards on paper and trim them to size.
- Use the conversation hearts as markers or find other markers that would suit your party better.
- Mark the back of each board with a number and create a bag with the corresponding number and type of markers.
- Enjoy the game!