I've never been big on traditional (read: expensive) Valentine's Day gifts. Would I be upset if someone bought me flowers? Probably not. But I don't love the idea of so much money being spent on something that I can't keep forever. (True life: I'm kind of a small-scale hoarder.)
Thoughtful gifts that really speak to a person's interests are more my style. Oftentimes, it seems the best way to personalize a gift is to make it yourself. Do they always turn out perfectly? Certainly not! But knowing that someone spent so much time to prepare something specifically for you has a certain "awww" factor. Which is really great for Valentine's Day, no?
Great idea, you say. But it's already Friday, I have a busy weekend ahead, and Valentine's Day is Tuesday! I don't have time to prepare a gift.
I am here to put an end to the notion that all homemade gifts require a large investment of time. They can take FOREVER, but simple projects really don't have to. And your recipients will still think, "Awww! They made me something!"
Here's a painless craft idea if you're looking to surprise someone special in a way that can be highly tailored to their tastes. I made these coasters for my husband a few years back, and not only do we still use them every day, they make a great conversation piece when we have guests.
Decorated tile coasters are a really nice gift because they are inexpensive, easy to make, and useful. For this project, you'll be decorating the top of the coaster with a picture. This can be a photo, a collage of words from a magazine, printouts of your favorite band's logo, a cartoon character, a book...whatever you want!
When I made these for my husband, I decided to print out covers from various Justice League comics, because he is a huge fan. I made one coaster for each member of the Justice League, plus one with the whole crew, because I severely overestimated the number of coasters two people could need. Four coasters is a bit nicer than eight. As you brainstorm what theme you want your coasters to have, try to think in terms of items that can be grouped into fours. (Members of the Beatles? Seasons? You may have to try a little harder than this.) Then, you can put one image on each tile. You can also put the same image onto every coaster, if you'd prefer. (Side note: this project works just as well if you use scrapbook paper with a cool pattern, rather than an image. I've done this craft with scrapbook paper quite a few times for Christmas gifts or my craft fair booth.)
Purchase white, off-white, or tan floor tiles at a home improvement store (other colors are fine, but may show through the paper once adhesive is applied). The kind I bought were 4" by 4" and had a marbled look, though they definitely weren't marble. The look of the tile is less important, since you'll be covering it with an image. Just be sure you like the weight and size of the tiles.
Next, buy some Mod Podge or similar craft sealant. Mine is a glossy sort, which gives a nice finish to the image. There are matte versions out there, if you prefer. Also pick up a can of Mod Podge spray sealant.
You'll also need a sheet of the sticky felt feet that go on chair legs to protect the floor. The 1/4" size works particularly well for this project. You'll need four of the stickers for each coaster.
Select your images. Cut them carefully so they are the same size as the top of your tiles. Lay them on top and trim as necessary. Tile size may vary ever-so-slightly, and I highly recommend keeping each image with the tile you measured it against, as they may not all be the same.
Lay down a newspaper. Unless you hate your table. There's a good chance it will get sticky. Somehow, I always seem to manage to get glue on myself, my clothes, my workstation...my husband is very nice and doesn't laugh.
With a sponge brush, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the top of the tile. Carefully lay the image onto the tile and position it so it does not hang over the sides. Dab another thin layer of Mod Podge on top of the image. Let dry for two
hours (or however long your container of Mod Podge indicates. A bit longer never hurts, though. When the paper is wet, it can weaken and pull if you try to do too much too soon.)
If you wish, add another coat of Mod Podge to the coaster. Let dry.
Outside, spray the Mod Podge sealant over the coasters. This is important: be sure you are at least a foot away from the coasters. If you are too close, the spray tends to discolor the paper and make it look greasy. (Note: I've always made my coasters with the regular Mod Podge paste and the spray sealant because I was told to do so. It's possible the project could be done without the spray, but I've never tried, so I'm hesitant to recommend that. If you are successful that way, let me know!)
Let the coasters dry. Once dry, stick the felt circles on the underside of the tile, with one in each corner. Voila! You now have a set of homemade, personalized coasters that your Valentine can spill their coffee on (just kidding. But actually, these do wipe clean fairly easily.) and cherish because they came from you.
Let me know how your crafting goes, and happy Friday!