Friday, February 10, 2012

In the mood for love: valentining

It's nearly Valentine's Day, and I'm in the mood for love. I'm not usually much of a romantic, but my heartstrings were pulled when I received an invitation to a "make-your-own-valentine" party at Lady Gregory's in Andersonville.

We made a mess.

We also made some valentines. Mind you, it was at a bar. My projects started off really ambitious, like this 3D card I made using a leftover gift box, some markers, cut out letters and sticky hearts.

A fellow party-goer suggested crinkling up some card stock paper, Slinky-style, to make "springs" for the letters to jump out from. I liked the result so much that I made another one.

But after stopping to eat, drink and chat, my valentines were decidedly less sophisticated. Here's matching cards for my parents, or "Ma" and "Pa". 

Our homemade valentines were mostly improvised on the spot, and materials were collected from what we each had lying around. It helped that our sweet hostess, who runs a pre-school out of her home, came equipped with all kinds of pink and red paper, old fashioned stickers, lace, ribbon, heart hole punchers and glitter. If you organize a similar party, I highly recommend inviting a pre-school teacher.

 It comes as no surprise that DIY valentines are all the rage this February, and there are abundant sweeter than sweet designs to be found online. I say making your own is a fitting response to a holiday propagated by advertising companies, and generally designed to be a let down, like New Year's Eve or V-Day's bastard sibling, Sweetest Day. Plus, it's a good excuse to get together and drink with your buddies and you need those excuses in February, in Chicago.

The best part was that, while getting into the lovey dovey spirit of things, my day-of plans also came together. While folding tiny Slinkies and sipping wine, I learned that one of the valentiners was going to be a featured reader at the Chicago Reader's annual heart day celebration. The theme?  "Anti-Valentine’s Day Party: Twisted Tales of Dating in the Windy City." Perfect! Now I can mail my valentines out and get a healthy dose of snark and cheek, too.

"Because without the bitter, baby, the sweet just ain't as sweet."

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