Ready for Valentine’s Day? Check out these DIY valentines ideas for college students

Antique sailors valentine, c. 1870. (Credit: Verne Equinox)

Antique sailors valentine, c. 1870. (Credit: Verne Equinox)

Valentine’s Day. It’s a hotly contested holiday: Is it a commercial way to exploit traditional romantic relationships? A way for florists and chocolatiers to bump up their annual sales? Or is it actually a positive celebration of romance that can expand beyond the hype and stereotype? However you celebrate – or ignore – the holiday, your friends’ feeds are sure to be flooded with news about Valentine’s Day. If you want to avoid the commercial aspects, or if you’re just in the mood to try something new and creative, check out our tips for some do it yourself college valentines ideas.

DIY on a budget

So, you want to do something nice for your significant other, but don’t have a lot of spare cash? No problem, says Brinton from Seventeen magazine’s Freshman 15 Blog. In “Easy DIY Valentine’s Day gifts,” she described how she spent a total of $4 on gifts for her beau, but made sure the ideas were personal and would be appreciated. Along with creating 12 pre-planned, inexpensive date ideas (her favorite: going to a thrift store and buying each other outfits, then going out for a walk in public), Brinton made a homemade Jenga set, with each piece containing a question for conversation starters: “Would you rather travel by plane or car?” As Brinton described: “I went to the local hardware store, bought a few pieces of ¾” x 3″ wood, and brought them to the wood shop in UC Davis’s Craft Center. One of the guys who worked there cut the wood into a bunch of small blocks for me (about 2.5 inches long) and I sanded them down myself. Then, my future roommates and I came up with a bunch of fun questions that I wrote on the game pieces, I sprayed them with clear finishing spray-paint, and voila!”

Other ideas that you can put together on the cheap (without feeling like a tightwad):

  • A book of coupons: this one works for friends and roommates too, especially if you put in household shared responsibilities (like cleaning the common kitchen).
  • A Valentine’s Mason jar: take a Mason jar and fill it with candies, or, better, special objects that represent your significant other or your relationship. You can create a meaningful diorama, a snow globe, or a candle holder decorated with photos.
  • Homemade tablet covers made from a composition notebook (easily available at the college bookstore), or a hand-stitched e-reader cover if you’re especially crafty.
  • A travel kit for significant others who are on the road a lot (or are the taxi for all your friends): the compass and Swiss army knife may set you back, but you can print out maps of relevant areas, grab a flashlight and some batteries, a pen and notebook and a pack of band aids at the convenient store.
  • Etched beer glasses, which is easier than it sounds if you have glass-etching cream, a self-heated cutting mat, a profile picture and some scissors.

DIY for your friends

Were you one of those kids who loved giving out valentines to all your friends in elementary school? No need to stop now. You can come up with clever ideas for cards or trinkets to hand out to your friends without spending a fortune. And some ideas that look like they’re for kids would still be a hit in your dorm.

In “DIY princess and super hero peg doll valentines,” Etsy seller CraftThatParty stole a valentine idea from her five year old: decorating wood-peg dolls as superheroes and princesses, and putting each on a card. This one requires some painting skills: take the wood peg dolls (which run less than 10 cents each) and paint them like your favorite characters. While the examples CraftThatParty shows are from comics and Disney movies, there’s no reason you couldn’t make some zombies ala Walking Dead (“I love your braaaaain”) or poke some fun at Game of Thrones (ala printable Valentines by artist Chris Bishop at “Game of Thrones valentines” on the artist’s website).

You could also try:

  • Felt fortune cookies: with a little wire (to hold the fold) and glue, you can turn a circle of felt into a fortune cookie that holds a cute fortune or some M&Ms.
  • Matchbox valentines: you can still get matchboxes at the grocery store, so dump out the matches (if candles are allowed in your dorm, save the matches for future use), decorate the boxes, and fill them with little candies.
  • Sugar cookies – especially with red or pink sugar – are a traditional favorite that most friends won’t have grown out of.

What kinds of treats do you expect to share this Valentine’s Day? Tell us in the comments.

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