Creativity a plus when it comes from the heart

Lynn Steller

After tuition hikes and parking tickets, many people are left wondering how they’ll pay for a nice Valentine’s Day.

Getting something personal can seem daunting and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Shopping carefully and making gifts is the key to saving money without looking cheap.

Even the creativity-challenged can make a gift this year. There are plenty of ways to make a special gifts without breaking the bank.

Prices can be so low that it’s possible to make gifts for a significant other, a close friend or even as a self treat.

ႂ Collage a box, photo frame or bulletin board using magazines and Mod Podge – a glue and sealant – for as little as $3.

Start by applying the glue liberally to the base of the work area. It dries quickly, so don’t spread too much. Add magazine clips or photos and seal with a coat of glue. Continue the process until the item is covered. Adding small objects such as can tabs or wooden cut-outs add personality to the project. Don’t waste time or gas – all the supplies can be found at Hobby Lobby.

Rae Chelle Davis, a freshman from Kansas City, Kan., collaged a personal bulletin board with alcohol ads for her beer-savvy boyfriend. She even glued bottle caps over thumb tacks for a final touch.

Music is another way to make Valentine’s Day special. Make a mixed CD with love songs. Or, for a friend without a Valentine, make a “singles only” CD. Dashboard Confessional and Alanis Morissette are good for those who are alone.

Brownsville freshman Heather Thomas works at Someplace to Remember, a scrapbook store on Nashville Road. She suggested making a memory album.

ႂ Remove the paper from its photo sleeve. Create a scrapbook-type page by cutting and pasting pictures on each piece of paper. Write memories and add colored paper or stickers to make it personal. Thomas said the staff can assist beginners in the process.

For a cheaper alternative to floral arrangements, or for a sweetie who likes sweets, make a candy bouquet.

ႂ Place a ball of heavy styrofoam into a mug or cup. Glue one piece of candy to a sturdy wire and cut each wire to a different length. Push the end into the styrofoam to look like a bunch of flowers.

Potted plants last longer and are often cheaper than a floral bouquet.

ႂ Decorate the base with acrylic paint or collage it as described above. Since the flowers won’t die, it will be a constant reminder of undying love.

A gift basket is the perfect way to arrange store-bought gifts with personal flair. Wal-Mart, Kroger, Hobby Lobby, Walgreens and the University Bookstore all have special Valentine’s Day sections with good prices. Get a few small items, such as stuffed animals, silk flowers or chocolate, and arrange them in a basket or coffee mug.

Store-bought cards are expensive and less personal. Make one using decorated paper, heart cut-outs and stickers. Make it special by writing a poem or song lyrics on the inside.

Gifts tags are a small but special touch to add to any gift. Tags cost a mere 40 cents at Someplace to Remember and are a snap to decorate.

Spread the love this Valentine’s Day by making a special gift for that special someone without spending a fortune.

Reach Lynn Steller at [email protected]