This love letter themed tablescape make’s the perfect setting for Valentine’s Day, a romantic date night, or even an anniversary dinner. I find that in the modern era of effortless texting, emails, and social networking, that it can be a lovely quixotic gesture to turn back to the sentimentality of a handwritten letter on actual paper. Then to go further back to capture the romanticism of script, drafted with pen and ink well on paper that’s been sealed with wax… so that none other than the intended may lay eyes on the heartfelt content. Call me old fashioned if you will… I’ll just take it as a compliment.
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate:”
Verse spells its way across a love letter inspired cloth is laid upon a greater midnight black tablecloth.
“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:”
Six ravishing red roses rise from a vase overflowing with soft petals. A boundless array of them blankets the table.
“Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimmed;”
Luminous brass sextuplet candlesticks cast a romantic golden glow over the tablescape. Beneath them lies a once live rose plated in brilliant 14 karat gold. Gilded studs enhance burgundy pillar candles set upon stacked vintage candlesticks that playfully generate light and shadow in the background.
“And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;”
Encircling tuxedo black napkins are love letter symbolizing napkin rings trimmed with faux wax seals. Golden utensils bearing wooden handles represent the pens of yesteryear. Waiting to be filled are vintage ruby glasses trimmed with rings of gold that are flanked by golden flecked midcentury champagne vessels.
“But thy eternal summer shall not fade, Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st, Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,”
Beneath a resplendent tree sit black ladder-backed chairs cushioned with sumptuous garnet pillows.
“When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st. So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”
Italian countryside plates from Mikasa are topped by red dishes resembling wax seals. They obscure all but rings of gold from the gleaming mat chargers below them.
This easy DIY Valentine’s Day countdown calendar plus treat bag banner and love letter napkin rings craft tutorial comprises three of my favorite things to make… banners, napkin rings, and advent calendars. The latter project arose from the questions, “Why are countdown calendars typically made for Christmas advent and not for other holidays?” and, “Why not expand the celebration with 2 weeks of excitement leading up to Valentine’s Day?” This works well for either children or adults depending on what’s placed inside the bags. As for the love letter themed napkin rings, they perfectly fit a romantic Valentine’s theme… though this one is for adults only!
Let’s begin with the napkin rings. You’ll need a roll of Offray Brand Ribbon in a script pattern. (I purchased this ½ price with a coupon from Joann Craft & Fabric Stores. There’s a link for them in the sidebar.)
You can make 12 rings and still have enough left over for a gift package bow if you like. You’ll also need either hot glue or liquid fabric glue and fabric paint in red (because it works on so much more than just T-shirts).
Measure and cut a 6 inch length of ribbon for each ring you wish to make (use sharp sewing scissors to prevent fraying ends). If using hot glue, bond the ends with one side overlapping the other and press them together tightly. For liquid fabric glue, use a plastic clothes pin as a clamp or secure with a straight pin… and allow them to dry completely.
Next, make a faux sealing wax impression with the red paint. Either use the fabric paint tip to draw a circle and fill it in, or just squeeze some onto a plate and use a brush. Allow these to dry completely before handling. (Hot sauce bottles, glue bottles, and paint tubes placed inside the rings will prevent rolling and paint smears.)
These napkin rings were so quick and easy to craft, and they were a great little touch to add to the Love Letter Themed Tablescape (Perfect for Valentine’s Day, Romantic Date Night, or Anniversary Dinner).
Now let’s make a Valentine’s Day countdown calendar and treat bag banner. (This is an easy enough project for the kiddos in your life to make too.) Begin by purchasing 14 mini clothespins complete with chalkboard hearts (these were 12 for $1 at the Target bargain bins). You can also buy the clothespins plainly and easily attach small flat wooden hearts with wood glue or hot glue… yes, hot glue does work on wood. Then all you need to do is paint the hearts with chalkboard paint. (All of the major craft stores carry the hearts. There are sidebar links for my favorite stores that carry coupon codes with them!)
If you like, paint the remaining portion of the clothespins in your choice of red or pink… though the natural wood tone would look fine with the paper bags if you’re short on time. (I used dark scarlet multi-surface acrylic paint from DecoArt, because it matches my spice racks.) It’s easiest to clip them onto cardboard and just paint one side, leaving them to dry before flipping them over and completing the opposite side.
You have the option of writing the 14 day numbered countdown with actual chalk (so that they may utilized in another capacity after the holiday) or with a permanent chalk marker that can’t be rubbed off.
While those are drying, decorate your treat bags. (These plain little sacks were purchased cheaply for ½ off, but you can purchase printed ones if you’d like to speed up the process.) I used a red bingo marker to stamp dots in a polka dot pattern. (See more about this, along with other project ideas in my article on Fast & Easy DIY Hand-stamped Polka-dot Gift Wrap & Matching Gift Crafts.)Let these dry completely before the next step. (You also have the option of stamping a pattern onto the bags with ink or paint.)
Next, cut out hearts from black chalkboard paper, or use a paper punch in any shape you like, or speedily use readymade chalkboard sticker labels.
Here is my handy little template to print free at home then cut out to trace around. It’s an easy way to make the same exact heart shape repeatedly. (Just right click the small image above and select print.)
Adhere the paper hearts onto the bags with a permanent glue stick. Then run a strip of matching washi tape along the base for easily added flair.
String the dry clothespins onto ribbon, string, jute, cording, twine, or yarn. (I used yarn that looks like twine because three times the amount can be purchased for ⅓of the price.) Once again, use either permanent white marker or actual chalk to write on each heart.
I chose to write “Be my Valentine!” but “Valentines Day!” or “Happy Hearts Day” would also have fit on the 14 bags. You can also write the names of individual recipients like friends, classmates, or even alternate the names of family members.
Fill the little bags with anything you like… you can make it as inexpensive or extravagant as you like.
For kiddos: try candy, stickers, stamps, tiny toys, erasers, inexpensive jewelry… or silly printed jokes you won’t mind hearing over and over again. On the 14th day, think about directions leading to a larger gift like a stuffed animal.
For adults: try printing faux fortunes, poems, romantic quotes, movie or event tickets, or even homemade coupons for “honey-do” chores or special treats. On the 14th day, think about directions leading to a larger gift like a dozen roses, box of chocolates… or something uber masculine like the latest power tool at home depot.
This makes a super cute banner decoration as well, and it can be strung just about anywhere using either tape, 2 extra clothespins, or by tying knotted loops at each end of the string.
Running with the idea that opposites attract, I decided to make a Valentine’s Day Party theme that incorporated both matte black chalkboard and glittery red hearts. The elements actually coordinated beautifully for a party theme that would suit a variety of age groups, or even just serve as a surprise for that special someone. The whole shebang was actually quite inexpensive to pull off, though happily I believe that doesn’t appear to be the case. You can either follow the links to make the fast and easy crafts yourself, or go shopping with the theme in mind.
After deciding on my theme, I actually found this adorable chalkboard Valentine fabric that also had glitter hearts. (You can find some for yourself at Hancock Fabrics or Fabric.com using coupons from the affiliate links in the sidebar.) I hung this up with clear thumbtacks.
I love incorporating ornament filled trees into holidays besides Christmas. Valentine’s Day is especially easy to do this with because it falls so quickly after on the calendar so that one may really take advantage of all those deep after-Christmas clearance sales. Some of the baubles on this tree were marked 90% off which left the cost at mere cents. The topper is a glittered sprig of holiday pine.
Some of you may recognize the black wooden tree from the Halloween Party. It looks really different when trimmed according to another theme. The conversation heart ornaments were made from white foam shapes (whose craft tutorial may be found here).
On the opposite side of the buffet, I made an arrangement that can be disassembled one heart wand at a time, to be given away as favors to departing guests. This is especially sweet when given as scepters to little Valentines princess party goers. (See the tutorial at the link here.)
I set all of these into a vase shaped like a thread spool twinned with glittery red flat yarn. It symbolizes the ties the bind… and is filled with hearts. Glass marbles contain the arranged wands yet allow for easy removal. These are topped with another variety of glittery yarn to conceal the marbles.
Other décor elements are the chalkboard sign crafts set onto easels (find tutorial here) alongside a store-bought slate that I was gifted with early. (Thanks Mom!)
A variety of gift bags and boxes overflowing with candy were nestled into the ensemble. The heart bags and mail boxes were machine cut from construction paper.
I included both oversized gems and tiny crystal hearts to fill in the empty spaces. I borrowed a bouquet of crepe paper roses that I had actually made for my mother years ago, and set these into a marble filled vase. I wrapped it with some leftover rope trim that coordinated with the theme, and set it atop an upturned boxy metal vessel. It’s really easy to create lifts and levels when one starts to think out-of-the-box and repurpose items for that other than which they were intended for.
The treat tower is actually comprised of two metal trays that I found on after Christmas clearance years ago. I simply stacked these by using an empty drink mix container wrapped with glittery fabric.
It was surprisingly stable, but you can add further assurance by hot gluing these for a temporary bond. A stronger adhesive would make the bond permanent. I stocked the tower with icing laden cookies, cupcakes, and candy cocktails.
The other platter was another clearance gem from over a decade ago. It’s a lovely red metallic reverse painted glass. You can mimic this with a lovely red charger in either acrylic or glass. More of the same sweet treats topped the dish plus some delectable chocolate covered cherries set into their own treat cups. Try this with truffles or even upside down cake pops.
I made my own treat pops with Peeps red speckled white “love birds” with chocolate bases. To make your own, simply poke a pilot hole with a skewer or tooth pick then jab in a paper straw. I chose adorable heart covered ones, and then set these into gumball packed vintage crystal vessels. Any solid candy would serve as well.
A non-alcoholic berry soda set into an ice bucket serves as equal-opportunity refreshment. The same red metallic plates that appear in the chalkboard sign crafts were placed front and center. Last but not least to complete the sweet buffet was the addition of candlelight. (Use LEDs if you fear sleeves catching fire or if you have young guests attending.) Red mercury glass votives were, you guessed it, purchased for mere cents post-Christmas. They really added to the ambiance of the whole setting.
♥ As you prepare for your own Valentine’s celebration… just remember to, “Keep calm & party on!”
This mélange of fast and easy crafts were made to decorate a Valentine’s Day Party, but you can adapt them for any purpose you like. The faux chalkboard craft is an inexpensive way to decorate for the holiday, but also makes a quick Valentine for a love one. The chalkboard idea can also be extended to other favors quite easily. The glitter heart wands effortlessly gather into a dramatic centerpiece, and can be taken home as favors by each Valentine princess at the party. (Make these with foam hearts or my free printable from the Valentine’s Day banner craft.) Also, make Valentine ornaments with the kiddos in your life using foam Conversation hearts in a matter of minutes.
Let’s begin with the simplest project first, making Valentine ornaments out of foam conversation hearts from the craft store. (I used the white ones only, so as to coordinate with my theme colors, and reserved the other pastels for the candy-land themed party which will appear in an upcoming article.)
You can either glue the hearts back to back, sandwiching twine or thin ribbon between them, or simply tape twine loops to the heart backs. The latter is the quickest way to make them, and the easiest for a little one to help with.
The next project is a faux chalkboard sign, that also makes an inexpensive Valentine, using the unexpected material of a paper party plate. The square metallic disposable plates are lovely yet extremely budget friendly. Why not pick some up for the party and reserve one or two to fill in as décor.
Merely use dots of glue to layer square doilies onto the plates. Simply trim down the doilies to fit the smaller plate sizes.
Then cut a square of matte black cardstock to size, and glue atop the doily.
Use a white paint marker to write whichever sentiment, poem, or quote you wish.
Use a hole-punch to add 2 openings with which to slip a strand of coordinating ribbon through. Simply tie the two ends in a bow, which also serves to further decorate the sign.
Similarly, cut squares of black cardstock to adorn gift bags and boxes, using the same white paint marker to write your sentiment in “chalk”. If the writing doesn’t seem clear enough, simply go over the letters until they do. The uneven edges make them look even more like chalk, but won’t come off on your clothing while delivering them to your recipient.
Moreover, in this way you can ride the chalkboard trend without spending as much on readymade tags, stickers, or chalkboard paint. (The bags I made were machine cut from construction paper then adorned.)
The last project is a centerpiece of glittery hearts meant to be taken home as party favors at the end of an event. You can even print, cut, and glue these onto tiny wooden dowels using my free printable at the end of the article.
I sandwiched a thin dowel between 2 glittered foam hearts with the aid of hot glue. The thinnest dowels are really easy to just snap in half where you want to section them. Trim with a bow of glitzy ribbon if you like. I used readymade glittered bows from an after Christmas clearance sale.
The open hearts were made from inexpensive styrofoam and red glitter blast spray. For the largest ones, I simply jabbed in a cut section of wire hanger as a handle, but a thin dowel would be better if gifting them. I added glittery bows to some of these as well. All of them will sit securely arranged in a vase filled with marbles. This way they can be easily pulled out one by one at the end of the celebration as favors. I just pilled on an unraveled skein of glittery red yarn atop the marbles to hide them.
♥ Happy Sweetheart’s Day!
P.S. Here is the Glitter-Doily Heart Printable. Simply right click on the image and select Print. Print them in the best color photo setting.
These Valentine’s Day banner crafts are so fast and easy that even the busiest mama can make them with her little ones. The glitter heart and doily printable only needs the addition of letters to spell out any message you wish. The second banner is comprised of layered doilies and extra valentines. Both are so inexpensive yet add a lot of heartfelt sentiment and party atmosphere. Plus, they’re lightweight enough to stick in a big envelope and send to a loved one whose away for the holiday. You can even use the printables as stand-alone Valentine Cards!
First let’s make the doily valentine banner. This is a great project to use up any leftover schoolroom Valentine cards from your kiddo’s class. You can even save the received ones to make banners for next year’s celebration.
One only needs to add some low-cost paper doilies in varying sizes. I used leftovers from last year along with some Holly-Hobby Valentine Cards from my childhood.
Merely use dots of glue to layer the doilies and Valentines. Then add a ribbon bow for dimension.
Tie circles of twine, yarn, or ribbon through the holes in the doilies and knot together. Hang it up and enjoy!
The glitter heart and doily banner is one that can be easily made by two different methods. You can print and cut out all the glitter doily hearts you need, using my printable at the end of the article. You can also use inexpensive glittered foam hearts from the craft store, and use hot glue to layer white doily hearts onto them.
Either way, the next step is add letters spelling out any sentiment you’d like. I cut out letters with a machine from black card stock to coordinate with my chalkboard theme. You can also use a stencil to trace and hand cut them, or buy them readymade at the craft store. (Michaels has them in every color and texture you can think of. Click on the affiliate link in the side bar to snatch the latest coupons.) I added a knot of ribbon to each dip in the heart to further tie in with my theme’s color palette. Feel free to add any other elements you’d like from paper roses to stickers. (You can even skip the letters and let a kiddo color in pictures to use the printables as Valentine Cards.)
Next add holes to both sides of each heart with a hole-punch. Then use ribbon or twine to string them together. Add a loop at each end to hang the banners by. Voila!
♥ Happy Heart’s Day!
P.S. Here is the Glitter-Doily Heart Printable. Simply right click on the image and select Print. Print them in the best color photo setting.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve made 2 assemblage sculptures (which are the 3-dimensional versions of collages), one honoring romantic spirits and the other creative kindred spirits. With photographic examples of the steps, along with some basic instruction, I’m sure you’ll be able to create your own. This project is the perfect Valentine gift because you can incorporate little bits of ephemera like ticket stubs and cards from your romance, or you can celebrate a creative spirit with little items that symbolize the recipient’s talents. It’s an inexpensive way to demonstrate affection in a memorable one-of-a-kind way… and they’re so much fun to make!
Let’s start with the basics… assemblage sculptures are really just 3D collages. Instead of merely cutting and gluing flat pieces of paper images to a larger sheet of paper, solid ephemera (like perfume bottles) are glued to a base (like a book box). As with any sculpture, they are viewed from 360ᵒ and so should be layered on all sides. In this way, they really are more challenging to make and more interesting to look at. Completed pieces are best viewed close up and in person like one would inspect the contents of a tiny dollhouse.
I’ve made two at the same time in order to demonstrate more fully just how to complete such a project. They have very different themes, but utilize the same color scheme and even some of the same items like crystal hearts. In one artwork these symbolize romantic affection while in the other representing the love of craft. Personally, I find that it’s best to begin by gathering all the important ephemera you’d like to use first.
Think of it like an exaggerated version of scrapbooking. Add things that depict cherished memories or even inside jokes. Another way to begin is make a list of things you want to portray, and then look for elements that would render those. And, let’s just say that you don’t have the right memento from that beach trip… well, just go buy a lovely shell and write a date on it in permanent marker. It really is that simple.
Observe the collected items to see which colors are repeated most. Allow this to dictate your color scheme. Any pieces that clash with that scheme can be altered to blend in seamlessly. Paint, stain, glitter, glue, ribbon, and tape can change a tchotchke to suit your palette. Here I’ve use a bingo marker to stain some pale wooden heart cutouts and potential base feet. (See more about the possibilities of bingo markers in my article:Fast & Easy DIY Hand-stamped Polka-dot Gift Wrap & Matching Gift Crafts.)
The next step is to go to your craft area, local craft store, or even online to search for coordinating bits of ribbon, washi tape, or even feathers to fill in the empty portions of your project. (A few of my affiliates offer great rotating discounts on art and craft supplies. Check them out in the sidebars and footer.) How much you use is a matter of personal artistic preference. I intentionally load some assemblages up to the hilt, while in others I designate empty voids as a design element in and of itself. (This is called “negative space” in “art-speak”.)
Choose an appropriate sized base object according to the size and amount of your collected ephemera, and by how you would like to display them. (Of course, I’ve also started with a really awesome base then collected items after. For a Valentine project though, the most important elements are the collected ones.) You can use a tiny chocolate box if you only have a few key items and are short on time. Or, you can use that chocolate box as a pedestal inside a bigger box (just remember to glue the little box together before adhering it to the base).
I used a vintage fabric covered book box for the “Sweet-Heart” assemblage. I love using old pieces off-book so to speak. I thought a drawer organizer box would be perfect for the “Creative-Heart” project. I just turned it on its side to make a kind of display case out of it. You can even use a plain paper-mache box, and decorate to suit your theme.
Lay out the items you’d like to use to see how it looks best arranged. Move things around until you find it visually appealing. Eventually it will just look right. You can lock this into your memory, or even take a photo to reference it while you glue things down. Use a permanent glue stick to adhere the paper pieces in layers to the base.
Here I’ve added washi, glitter, and foil tape to add visual interest to the plain centers of the “Creative-Heart” assemblage. Then I glued paper pieces to the backs like a papered wall.
Use a clear glue with more staying power for heftier pieces like glass bottles and metal pieces. (I placed some great glue varieties in the curated art supplies gallery box in the sidebar. Just click on them to read the specs.)
I glued small stained wooden shapes to the bases to serve as feet (those shown earlier). This is the most inexpensive way to both elevate and protect the artwork. You also use more ornate metal feet specifically made for assemblages or even small silicone stickers.
Rotate bases to glue all of the heavier objects onto that side, and then let them set to dry. Continue to rotate and glue various edges. Of course, try to position the bigger more important pieces before filling in with the tiny ones.
Think about adding meaningful words, phrases, questions, or quotes to impart further meaning to your elements. I added these using printed label tape, dymo tape, vinyl lettering, glittered chipboard letters, a Chinese character, and even fortune cookie papers. Apply these directly onto your pieces and to the base itself.
I also made ivory shapes using Plaid Mod Molds. (These have been added to the curated gallery too.) I love being able to quickly make whatever element I feel needs to be included. I included metal jewelry charms, painted paper clips, mini-CDs, Spanish bingo cards, old keys, rulers, scissors, paper rosettes, ornaments, cupcake picks, playing cards, spools, thimbles, magnets, paintbrushes, crystals, glass vials and jars, etc.
Here is a pair of giant winged earrings that I’ve modified for the project. I even cut out music notes from the shiny display card. You never really know where something’s come from in one of my pieces. I generally use a lot of vintage elements and scraps that I modify. I’m lucky enough to have a grandma that collected a lot of random stuff that I can now use, but you can find a lot of knickknacks both online and in antique shops. Let your creativity run wild and use anything that can be altered and glued down!
Just keep layering your pieces into the base like you would to complete a puzzle. It’s done when you think adding anything else will mess it up… the Goldilocks moment of when it’s just right. Of course, there will always be critics, but you didn’t make it for them. If your recipient appreciates the care that went into it, and if you enjoyed making it…. well, isn’t that just the point of making a homemade gift?
Have fun & tell stupid Cupid you’ve got it covered!
If you’re looking to make some sweets for your sweetheart but haven’t got a lot a time to get organized for a complicated recipe, then these Valentine concoctions are a sure bet. The fool-proof process is so quick and easy, that it really needs no hard-fast formula in order to turn out so delicioso! I tend to make both of the confections at the same time because they use identical shelf-stable ingredients (save one), but make two very different desserts that coordinate beautifully. (If trying this, simply make the strawberries first then make bark out of the leftover ingredients.) Best of all, these are simple enough to be prepared by little ones, and can be made gluten-free and allergy-friendly for everyone to enjoy!
1 bag of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips- preferably gluten-free vegan (or candy coating chips in any color)
1 basket of fresh strawberries to dip (or try dried pieces to place into bark)
any toppings you like (oven-toasted coconut, chopped pistachios or walnuts, sugar sprinkles, dried fruit, crushed peppermints, even a contrasting colored chocolate chip, etc…)
Fill a heat-proof vessel with the chocolate chips of your choice. (Candy coating turns out a bit smoother, but isn’t as healthy or allergy-friendly as gluten-free vegan chocolate morsels. It really is a matter of personal preference.)
I used the stove for the fondue and the microwave for the bark… again it’s up to you and how much time you have.
For the Chocolate Bark:
When the chips are completely melted to a liquid state, pour onto an aluminum lined cookie sheet.
Sprinkle your choice of toppings onto the still warm chocolate.
Gently press the larger toppings like coconut into the chocolate with the back of your fingers. (Smaller bits like sprinkles don’t need any pressing.) Either allow this to harden on the counter or in the refrigerator.
This is the fun part… when it’s solid to the touch, take one end and break it by attempting to fold it in half.
Repeat this with all sections until you’re left with decent sized chunks of yumminess then plate it for company… after reserving a few bites for immediate consumption!
For the Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries:
Wash the strawberries well, then let them air dry on a paper towel, or pat them dry completely before dipping.
When the chips are melted thoroughly with no chucky bits left, merely hold your strawberries by the green tops and dip into the chocolate. After completely enrobing it, turn the wrist to let the last drip catch back onto the fruit.
Then spoon chopped toppings or sprinkles over the still warm chocolate. Gently press any large chunks into place, and then set it aside to dry and harden.
You can either place the completed strawberries onto aluminum foil and transfer them to a pretty plate later, or do as I’ve done and save a step by dishing them immediately to dry on the platter they will be served on. I always begin with the prettiest of the berries, and when I find that the platter is full… eat the rest!
🙂 Happy Chocolate err… Valentine’s Day!
P.S. A personal note on washing strawberries to dispel any old-fashioned notions regarding such… I promise that cleansing them of dirt and germs will in no way injure the fruit. In fact, they look even lovelier when truly clean. Wiping them with a towel only serves to redistribute bacteria. (The same can be said of mushrooms, which are often grown in actual manure.) For those of you who are thinking, “Well of course I wash my produce”… I’ve actually had this disagreement with a chef from a very popular up-scale restaurant that only reuses a towel on strawberries and mushrooms. (I hear they don’t wash the salad greens either, and never the lemons before cutting them.) So please forgive me, but with the recent listeria outbreak on caramel apples, I felt compelled to write a little about this now. Here are a few links for anyone who doesn’t want to take my word for it: