A card made by… you!

Valentine's Day is right around the corner, but you've still got a few days to come up with a card and/or gift for that special someone in your life. Sure, you could run to the Hallmark store… again. But this year, why not give your sweetheart something truly unique? (For instance, a card made by… you!)

When I tell people I make cards for my family, they typically reply, "I wish I could do that!" The truth is—anyone can. It's easy and it doesn't cost a lot. And here's the best part: It doesn't have to be perfect. So you're not the best artist? No problem. Your poems sound corny? Who cares! The more authentic your card is, the better. Trust me, it really is the thought that counts. And as John Steinbeck once said, “Now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.” So let's begin…

Make a trip to Michaels or a similar arts & crafts store (you can probably find most of these at Walmart), and pick up the following:
1. A fine-point Sharpie and several colored pencils, e.g.: red and pink. I prefer Prismacolor Premier—you can buy them individually. Alternatively, check out the endcap at Michaels for their ongoing $5 special on Artist's Loft Watercolor Pan Sets—brush included. (If drawing isn't your thing, simply swap out the Sharpie and pencils for a glue stick, scissors and red construction paper.)

2. Blank cards and envelopes. I like the Value Pack Cards & Envelopes by Recollections at Michaels, but you can also just take a piece of white construction paper and fold it in half.
First, draw a bunch of random hearts on the front of the card…
…or arrange the hearts in the shape of a bigger heart, like this…
If you find it difficult to draw hearts, simply make a 'V' shape with the colored pencil and then outline it with the black pen.
If you're cutting the hearts out of red construction paper, fold the paper in half, cut a 'half-a-heart' shape, unfold and glue.
You can do a million variations of hearts: different colors, sizes and shapes. It's impossible to make a bad heart. As an illustration professor of mine used to say, "Be loose!" In other words, don't worry about making it perfect. Just be creative and have fun.
On the front of the card, add a line of text. (Keep reading for a list of ideas about what to write.)
On the inside of the card, draw a single heart and add another line of text and the date. Then, just sign it and address your envelope.

Nothing I suggest will be half as good as what you ultimately come up with, because the real magic will happen when your card reflects YOUR personality—so be yourself. In the meantime, here are a few ideas to get you thinking…

FRONT: There are many hearts
INSIDE: But yours is all I need.

FRONT: I've fallen in love many times...
INSIDE: Always with you.

FRONT: A hundred hearts would be too few…
INSIDE: To hold the love I have for you!

If those sound too corny, do what I do and use a quote:

FRONT: "I carry your heart with me…
INSIDE: (I carry it in my heart.) I am never without it." 
–E.E. Cummings

FRONT: "For those who love with heart and soul…
INSIDE: there is no such thing as separation." –Rumi

FRONT: "All you need is love…
INSIDE: but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt."
–Charles M. Schulz 

(Attach a piece of chocolate to the card, or the card to a box of chocolates. :)

FRONT: "When love is not madness, it is not love."
–Pedro Calderon de la Barca

INSIDE: I'm crazy for you! 

Or keep it super simple…

FRONT: I will ALWAYS love you!
INSIDE: Happy Valentine's Day!

Anyway, you get the idea. But remember to make it personal. The more unique to you and your relationship, the better.
As any chef will tell you, presentation is crucial. Make a late night grocery store run the night before Valentine's Day. The floral department will be open, but empty, after 11 p.m. (unlike on Valentine's Day itself). Grab a rose or inexpensive bouquet, and maybe even a balloon and… voilà!
And whatever you do, don't forget to make a coffee run first thing in the morning on Valentine's Day, and write this on the cup…
By the way, if you want to include a gift, but have waited until the very last minute, here are two links that may help: 29 Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts and 15 Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts You Can Make Yourself.

Or you could just include a gift certificate—or even better, a 'love coupon'—on the inside of your card, like this…
Perfectly imperfect. Good luck – and Happy Valentine's Day!

PS: Don't forget to send pics of your creations to The Happiness of Art (deuhlig@deuhlig.com). I'd love to see what you come up with.

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