Make cards to share the love!
It's that time of year again, that heart-shaped extravaganza of sugar and silly puns! Shrug off your disdain for the explosion of pink and purchasable junk in the stores.
Instead, think of this as the perfect time to gather your child’s school friends, invite your neighbors, and host a party to celebrate compassion. This is a service project you can pull together quickly with great success.
My 9-year-old daughter said it best during the festivities last year:
“I like making Valentine cards because I like being creative and I like cheering people up. These cards do both. Plus, it lets them [the people at her great-grandpa's nursing home] know they are loved and cared about.”
For years, our family has hosted an annual card-making party, starting weeks before Valentine's Day to be sure our cards will be completed and delivered on time.
Every year, the kids and their friends (and parents too) have had a great time. Together, we've created stacks of beautiful and silly and imaginative designs. It's wonderful to listen in while the kids swap stories about visiting elderly friends and family.
This project is sure to lighten up these dark cold days of winter.
First, who will receive the cards you make?
For us, this has always been an easy question. My husband’s grandfather is in a nursing home several hours away. We think this is a great project to let him know we’re thinking of him and the other friends we’ve made on our visits.
If you don’t have a personal connection, contact one of the following and ask if they would accept donations of cards and possibly candy:
- Local nursing home
- Local children’s hospital
- Meals on Wheels (they may be interested in sharing your creations with their recipients)
- Or visit the Cards for Hospitalized Kids site. Their great website will connect you with an address for your creations.
Second, who will join you?
Have fun sending out your invites. Will you be gathering school friends, your child’s basketball team, neighbors, or simply setting up a card-making station for intermittent house guests over the next month?
Note: Do not exclude boys from this party simply because it’s for Valentine’s Day. Remember, boys or men will likely receive some of these cards too. We added in superhero stickers and a wide variety of colored paper options, and our guy friends happily made some awesome creations.
Third, gather your materials!
Paper, stickers, markers, crayons, glue, glitter, yarn, ribbon: all of the basics come in handy. Last year I bought a paper heart punch, and that, combined with some Valentine’s-themed paper, really got the kids going.
If guests offer to bring craft supplies, welcome them! The more materials, the more creativity the kids can unleash.
Toss in a cake and some red balloons, and you’ll be ready to party.
Fourth, read about it!
Any of these three amazing books will help kids understand the impact their cards will have. Plus these stories are just plain FUN!
- The Giant Hug by Sandra Horning
- Somebody Loves you, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli.
- Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox.
Party! Create! Reflect!
Of course, the kids didn’t craft for hours and hours. Our guests arrived ready to dance, play, and giggle first. Once they settled down, we gathered around a table full of crafting goodies and talked while we created. Here are some of the questions that really got their conversation going:
- Have you ever been to a nursing home?
- What do you think it would be like to live in a nursing home, unable to get around the way you usually do?
- Have you ever felt lonely? What might make you feel less lonely?
- Why do you think our great-grandpa and his friends might enjoy your creations?
- What messages do you think you should add to your card? What might make others smile?
- How do you imagine they’ll react?
Finally, deliver your cards.
If you can deliver them in person, that is really the most fun and the most meaningful for everyone. We, unfortunately, could not. We packaged them up with chocolate hearts and a special note for grandpa, and sent them through the mail.
I did include a picture of the kids – though not all of the little wiggle worms agreed to be photographed – to let our new friends know where their cards came from!