There are all sorts of ways to make kids expensive. Celebrating every holiday for instance. But as a family that really does love to celebrate, no matter how made up the occasion, we knew that we were going to say yes to Valentine’s Day!
We knew we wanted to avoid a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift situation, so I started researching on Pinterest last month. I found lots of cute ideas. After reading paragraph after paragraph in post after post, I was shocked that none of them seemed to even hint at the cost.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the creativity. I am *here* for puns and word play. But I’m also not looking to break the bank or bust our budget halfway through the month.
That’s why I wanted to share exactly what we are buying and making for our toddler’s fist Valentine’s Day party and how we are keeping the cost to the $10.
Applesauce Pouch Valentine Class Treats
HP’s preschool teachers are wonderful. He has one teacher and one aid in his classroom (we call them both teachers for simplicity!), and I cannot get over their creativity. It’s a park district program that he attends once a week, so I didn’t even really expect them to do anything for Valentine’s Day.
But they made footballs for the Superbowl and glitter pumpkins this past fall, so I guess I’m not surprised at all that they thought to put together something for Valentine’s Day.
The Party Details
Two weeks ago, his teacher sent home a note (hooray for lots of advance notice from Miss Anne!). She wanted to let us know a few things about the party:
- All students get to celebrate with themed crafts
- Families are invited back to the room early to help pass out optional valentines
- Students could bring in notes, candy, or toys – as long as we were mindful of nut allergies and choking hazards
Immediately, my mind went to HP’s favorite treat: applesauce pouches! I know technically the top is a “small part”, but we got the green-light since families would be there to help kids open their treats anyway. They have a bit of fiber, kids really like them, and they’re free from dairy, egg, gluten, and nuts. No plastic trinkets and our park district upcycles the pouch tops. Overall, it seemed like a pretty big win.
The catch was to make them into valentines.
Then, I fell in love with the decoration ideas on Pinterest. The romance didn’t last long because people were selling printables for $5-$10. They were undoubtedly adorable, but I didn’t want to spend more on the wrapper for the treat than the treat itself. Especially because HP’s friends can’t read and wouldn’t really appreciate the puns anyway.
So I created my own! I found a fair-use apple design online, added some text in a Google Doc, and clicked print. I used two sheets of red construction paper and one sheet of green to make the apple cut-outs. A few dots of glue and some leftover ribbon from Christmas made for some really cute applesauce Valentine’s Day gift tags!
Target had a great sale on the GoGo Squeez Valentine packs, so it cost about $4.50 for 10 of them. I maybe spent another $0.50 making the tags. (Of course, this doesn’t account for my time! Thankfully, it went really quickly because HP wasn’t interested in helping with this part of the project.)
GoGo Squeez Valentines: $4.50
Applesauce Pouch Tags for Classmates: $0.50 give or take
Total: $5.00 approximately
Valentine Gifts for Preschool Teachers
A fellow crafter gave me two packs of Valentine’s from the dollar bins at clearance that she picked up years ago and never used. $Free.99 is my favorite price for things like this! We could have easily used construction paper or printer paper, but I was happy to put the cards to good use. As disinterested as HP was in the applesauce pouch valentines, he was King Bedazzler when it came to his teacher’s valentine cards.
We let him go to town with his favorite Peppa Pig stickers and some stamps he already owns rather than buying anything new.
Towards the end, I asked him to tell me one thing he loved to do with each teacher, and I added that note to each card. As a finishing touch, I let him “sign” his name.
I think that cards were more than enough for his teachers, but showing gratitude with saturated fat is practically coded in my DNA. Of course, I had to add a sweet treat, too!
When I was at our local bakery, I found frosted cookies for $1.50 each. They were already in cellophane bags, so I just attached the cards to them.
I know we could have made our own treats for less, but I also know that not every brave soul wants to indulge in something that a two-year-old helped make. (We will reserve that special joy for HP’s grandparents this year!) Plus, the price point was reasonable enough that I didn’t mind buying the cookies.
Cards & Frosted Cookies for Preschool Teachers: $3
How We Saved Money on Our Toddler’s First Valentine’s Day Party
We definitely didn’t spend as little as we could have. Instead, we tried to use this as an example of spending on what matters to us. We wanted to give something that most, if not all, of his friends could enjoy. Additionally, we wanted his two teachers to know that they are appreciated and thought of.
However, we also know that time is finite and so is Mama’s patience. That meant that I leaned into the fact that not everything would be homemade. It might not work for everyone, but it works for us!
Other ways that we saved:
- HP will get a little gift from us. It’s a book in a series he loves that we “bought” with Scholastic points.
- I didn’t buy HP an outfit specific for Valentine’s Day. Instead, he has a shirt with bright red sleeves that he will rock at his party.
- We used Pinterest as a jumping off point, not the end-all, be-all.
Because we could have easily spent another $10 or more on his first real Valentine’s Day party, I added $10 extra to HP’s 529.
So Tell Me…Are you celebrating Valentine’s Day this year? How do you keep down costs around holidays?
I’m still waiting to find out what the rules are for DC2’s class. We can’t remember if they passed out cards last year or not. We’re also not entirely clear on how many students are in the two third grade Dual Language classes this year. So if we don’t have enough leftover cards from previous years we’re going to have to make a last minute stop somewhere before Friday since we didn’t pick anything up at the grocery store this past weekend.
Thankfully DC1 is in high school!
Update: 38 valentines and “a sweet snack for 19 students”. Would have been helpful to get that info last Friday!
But we did have 38 (!) cards from previous years.
OOOOOF. That is definitely short notice!
Haha, we just bought a whole pack of the same apple sauce pouches for TwC’s classmates for Valentine’s Day too. We got a note from his teacher to provide a nice little snack(no chocolate, nuts, nor sugar coated type ones) and got that idea to buy them when we saw it at Costco. Now we have to figure out how to make it into Valentine’s theme snack. I like your apple design gift tags and may use some elements of it for ours. Thanks for this Penny!!
Thanks for this. I’ve been a reader for a while but a first time commenter. I’m also doing my first toddler valentines party this year.
Good luck to you! Let us know how it turns out. I’m linking the PDF that I used 😀