Lace. Flowers. Hearts. Resembling handmade valentines, the two Love stamps issued in 1999 speak of elegance and romance.
Valentine’s Day greetings have a long history. The oldest known valentine, now in the collection of the British Library, was written in 1415 by a French nobleman to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Americans began exchanging valentines in the early 1700s, and by the mid-19th century the first mass-produced cards had appeared.
Esther A. Howland (1828–1904)—known popularly as the “Mother of the Valentine”—is credited with creating the first cards in America specifically for Valentine’s Day. She designed the cards with ribbons, lace, and pictures, and sold them at her father’s Massachusetts stationery shop. The practice of sending cards caught on and continues to flourish today. The Greeting Card Association estimates that more than 145 million cards will be purchased in the U.S. this year in celebration of Valentine’s Day.
If you want your valentines to have a more personal touch, or if your children want to design their own cards for their friends and classmates, here are some resources to get you started:
- Spoonful, a crafting and cooking site sponsored by Disney, features a Valentine’s Day page full of ideas for handmade cards, including an alien valentine, a colorful heart design mean to hang in a window, and even a valentine-collecting mailbox . . . with eyes!
- Over at Better Homes and Gardens, you will find more than 30 inspiring designs. From heart banners and heart cutouts to lucky scratch-off valentines and a robot candy bar card, there is something here to excite everyone this Valentine’s Day. BH&G also has a video tutorial for making homemade cards.
- Go beyond cards to handmade candy boxes, envelopes, and other sweet Valentine’s Day treats on Martha Stewart’s Valentine’s Day Gifts showcase. We’re quite fond of the seed-starter valentine, a gift sure to brighten up anyone’s day.
Planning to make your own valentines this year? Tell us about it in the comments and share your pictures with us!