Today, the kids and I had plans to attend a Valentine's Day party with one of our homeschool groups. We brought a snack to the Christmas party, but for Valentine's Day, I decided to be brave and coordinate the craft project for a group of 35 kids. I was pregnant when I made that decision. I'm pretty sure I'm a little bit insane. I'm hoping it will pass.
I thought and thought of things we could do as a craft, and I couldn't come up with something more clever than stickers on paper on my own. I put the word out that I needed some inspiration, and my craftiest friend Randi suggested I peruse the offerings of The Crafty Crow. I clicked through post after post and idea after idea and finally settled on the Handprint Heart submitted by My Little Gems, a cute idea that was inexpensive and easy to execute. Could I have come up with anything better? For the record -- no.
Because the idea was so simple, I waited until the last minute to prepare. I went to Hobby Lobby yesterday afternoon, and as I stood in front of the poster paint, I imagined hoards of kids smearing their paint covered hands all over the walls of our borrowed party space. I decided my craft required me to be way more responsible than I cared to be, so I scrapped it right there in the aisle.
As I thought of an alternative craft, I remembered the thumb print valentines Randi's daughter Lila made. Then I thought, "Magnets!" Don't ask me why. I looked for magnets that had a paper back so we could stamp little thumbs straight on, but couldn't find any. Then, I thought I'd adhere paper to the magnets with spray adhesive, but having an unfortunate history with spray adhesive, I decided against it. I finally opted for foam.
I bought three large sheets of craft foam and planned to punch foam circles using a scrapbook punch. I found a red stamp pad on the foam aisle -- right next to the foam markers, mind you, thus implying the ability to successfully apply the ink to foam. I bought a strip of magnets to be cut to the correct size. I was so excited about my new, simple, mostly unique, less messy craft idea. At worst, the kids could leave a fingerprint stain here or there -- not a whole hand. Hooray -- much less responsibility for me!
I came home, unpacked everything, and began punching out circles. As least, I tried to punch out circles. The foam was too thick to fit into my shape punchers. That was okay, though. I would be neither discouraged nor deterred. Instead of punching, I hand-cut fifty magnet-sized pieces of foam.
Then, I tested the ink. The red ink heart looked so cute! What a great, less messy, mostly unique idea I'd had! Everyone would love it! What they wouldn't love was the fact that I failed to see the word "permanent" emblazoned on the front of the ink pad until after I stuck my finger in it. They also wouldn't love the fact that the ink would not only not come off of the finger, but that it would also spread to other body parts, various clothing items, and elements of the environment. And it wouldn't come off of there either. Plus, the ink never dried on the foam -- ever. Drat.
I tried different cleaning methods and different application methods. I tried all sorts of things. Finally, around bedtime last night, I decided that my great, less messy, mostly unique idea was a bust. A total bust.
This morning, I woke the kids early for a first-morning run to Wal-Mart. There, we stocked up on washable (ahem.) non-staining (right.) poster paint, foam brushes, and lots and lots of wet wipes. Then, I went to Staples where I hand drew the heart background and had it copied onto cardstock. We showed up early for the party and I forced Gracie into a test run.
The Handprint Heart craft is cute -- it really is -- but the paint was a mess, as I expected. I did Gracie's hands by myself and had no idea how I'd repeat the process with 34 other children in a timely and mess-free manner. Fortunately, I found a couple of helpers and we had a crafty assembly line of sorts. Mrs. Leslie painted the right hand red and stamped. I painted the left hand pink and stamped (and labeled the card with names, since my handwriting was already on it). Miss Nicole did an initial hand scrub with wet wipes, then sent kids to the bathroom for a proper washing.
Though there was a slight pink tint left on palms even after soap and water, the craft turned out to be so cute, the kids had a great time getting messy, and all the moms loved the result. I'm proud to say all clothing and painted surfaces survived.
In addition to my craft, the kids played games, had snacks, and exchanged valentines. Bub said this was "The Best Valentine's Day Party EVER!"