The first American Valentines were made and sold by Esther Howland, a young student at Mount Holyoke College whose father was a stationer in Worcester, Massachusetts. At the time most Americans were purchasing imported English Valentines like the ones sold in her father's shop. Around 1830, Esther had the novel idea of creating her own Valentine greetings crafted from imported lace, fine papers, and other supplies. She went on to build a small business, employing several assistants and her brothers to help market her "Worcester" Valentines. With annual sales amounting to about a hundred thousand dollars, a pioneering female entrepreneur was born.
Today Valentine cards are manufactured on a grand scale with greetings that range from the sentimental to the sophisticated with plenty of humor and fun along the way. It seems there is a Valentine for everyone—sweetheart, spouse, children, parents, teacher, and even your pet! Valentine's Day ranks second only to Christmas in the number of greeting cards sent.
A Valentine for the Birds
Remembering the residents outside your door—namely birds, squirrels, and other creatures—while you and your children are creating special crafts can be another good way to spread the love.
Debbie Stapley, the host of the DIY Network's Crafts show, suggests a fun way for children to transfer their ornament-making skills from Christmas to Valentine's Day. "There are two good ways to make ornaments that the squirrels and birds will appreciate, plus you can find most of these items right in your kitchen," says Stapley.
- Cut dense bread into heart shapes with a cookie cutter, then cut a small hole in each slice (big enough to run a ribbon through).
- Bake the heart shapes at the lowest temperature in your oven until the bread is dried.
- Mix an egg white with water and coat the bread with a pastry brush, then sprinkle the coating with birdseed.
- Fit a pink or red ribbon through the hole and decorate your trees with these special mementos.
Stapley also recommends creating another ornament out of a pinecone with a spreading of any type of peanut butter that you have on hand in the house. "Then simply roll the cone in the extra birdseed that you have on hand from the other project," she says. Now you and your kids will have created an easy, inexpensive gift that your outdoor friends will greatly appreciate.