Expat Magazine

A Very Merry Un-Valentine's

By Expatmum @tonihargis
At the risk of sounding bah-humbug and party pooper-ish, it's quite liberating being in the UK on Valentine's Day. Nothing required at school, no last minute card-buying for distant relatives and no themed decor. Not a word of a lie - one year in the US, I was even given Valentine's homework for my youngest child to take back in. Coz you know, parents with three kids just don't have enough to do.
Although the shops in England are decked out with Valentine's tat stuff, when I looked for a card to send to my in-laws in the US, there was ONE card available that wasn't for a spouse! No Valentine cards for sons, daughters, grandmas etc. Nothing. It's a romantic affair over here, that's for sure.
In my former life as a mother to kids in an American school, I obviously really didn't have enough to do when I look back on the Valentine's Day things I have made. (It might also have been something to do with getting the kids in bed by 7.30pm and having the whole evening to craft to my heart's content.)
When kids are little, they're often asked to take cards or little gifts into school for their classmates. Never one for store bought rubbish, one year I made 20 little red and pink net bundles, each containing a handful of Hershey kisses (red and silver) and tied with a red bow. I know. Another year I found small doilies in the shape of a heart, so we set about making handmade cards for their friends. (Note - I did rope the kids in once they got old enough.)
I think I peaked when one of the kids was asked to take in something for the whole class, and we made a less faffy version of this - A Very Merry Un-Valentine'sInstead of using fresh roses (like that was ever a consideration), we ripped up small pieces of pink and red tissue paper, crunched them up and stuck them onto a cardboard heart (painted red, of course). Two holes punched at the top of the heart, red ribbon strung through, and there's your classroom decoration - which the teacher actually kept and brought out again until it literally fell apart.
Another bit of genius came when I made a mosaic heart, photographed it and used the image for everything remotely Valentine related for about the next five years. (Obviously the crafter in me was beginning to take a back seat.)
A Very Merry Un-Valentine's
These are fiddly but easy to do. You can also do birthday cakes, Xmas trees etc. So yes, Valentine's Day in the UK is definitely a calmer occasion, but I did get possibly the poshest box of chocolates I've ever had! 
A Very Merry Un-Valentine'sAnd look - there's only one missing!!\

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