No-candy Valentine’s Day cards are becoming more and more common, and these DIY Seed Paper Valentines are a fun, eco-friendly way to celebrate the holiday without the sweets.
My boys aren’t in school yet, but I’m not going to lie – I’m really excited for class parties. Maybe it’s because I was totally obsessed with them when I was in school or maybe it’s just because I love holidays, but the thought of tiny desks covered in pink and red and little hands exchanging cards makes me so happy.
In our family, we try to keep candy and sugar in general to a minimum. Ryan already regularly asks me for cookies and cake, which he’s literally only had once or twice, so let’s not introduce him to deliciousness like peanut butter cups, ya know? (Unless it’s these sugar-free ones!)
I know that I’m not the only momma trying to keep the sweets to a minimum – and I also think a lot of classrooms (I could be wrong?) require non-food items for class parties, so I got really excited when I came up with this fun DIY.
These DIY Seed Paper Valentines are the perfect valentine DIY that will cover a few bases – making something fun with your kiddos, a quick little science lesson, and valentines for their class – wins all around! So let’ s get to it!
DIY Seed Paper Valentines
First, we’re going to make seed paper. I always thought it stuff was pretty cool, but never realised just how easy it was to make it myself. If you’re unfamiliar, seed paper is recycled paper that has been embedded with seeds. Once planted in soil and watered, the seeds will sprout, using the recycled paper as compost and growing into pretty flowers (or whatever seeds you chose.) Sounds complicated, actually super easy.
The first step is to make the paper pulp – grab about 10-12 sheets of paper and shred or tear it with about 2 cups of hot water into your blender. I used 10 sheets or normal paper and 2 sheets of red construction paper. I used a mix of old, lined paper I was going to toss and plain computer paper, which is why mine turned out a bit purple-y. My lined paper had blue lines which added a bit of color. You can use any kind of paper – tissue, newspaper, computer, construction, notebook – just make sure there is no coating or plastic on them.
PS – tearing up the paper is a great way to get kiddos involved – Ryan loved ripping it up and tossing it in the blender.
Soak your paper at least an hour and then blend. I blended mine to a fine pulp, but a few smaller chunks would add more interest to your paper. Stir in flat seeds – for this batch, I used this pack of 1000 wildflower seeds. (do not blend, obviously.)
For the actual ‘paper’ making, you have 2 options. Make or buy a fine mesh screen (like this one) and spread your pulp on to it before drying, or go my route because I didn’t have and didn’t want to make or buy a screen.
Line a cookie sheet with a towel before spreading your pulp on to it. I used a slotted spoon to scoop out my pulp and remove some water. Do not squeeze, just allow the water to drip off a bit. If the pulp is too dry it won’t spread or stick together easily. Top with another towel, another cookie sheet, and then weigh it down. In about 1 hour I switched out my top towel with a fresh, dry one and re-weighted.
After another hour, remove the top towel and press your paper with towels to try and get as much as possible. By now it should be getting firm – not dry, but firm. If needed, line with paper towels and roll with a rolling pin to remove more water and fix any uneven spots.
This part is kind of tricky – remove all paper towels from the top of the paper and place a cooling rack (like this one) upside down on your paper. The goal is to gently flip the paper on top of the cooling rack in one piece. If you break it, it’s no big since we’ll be cutting it, but try to keep it whole. Once flipped, remove the bottom (now top) towel GENTLY from the paper and allow to dry 12-24 hours until FULLY dried. It probably won’t fully take that long, but you want to make sure it’s totally dried. (Let me know if that’s too confusing – I’ll try to put together a video to explain the process!)
It might sound like a lot of work, but remember: you need to dry your paper as quickly as possible to ensure that your seeds don’t sprout! In my research, I read that you can use a hair dryer on cool to speed it up, and I bet placing it in front of a normal fan would also work. I wouldn’t suggest using heat since I’m not sure how the seeds would react.
Once the paper is totally dried, you can make your valentines! This is the easy part because I made you guys an awesome little printable so that you just cut your seed paper, print and cut your valentines, glue, address, and go! Simple pimple, you guys.
First, you want to cut out your hearts. I made a little template by cutting out a heart from one of my test cards. Then grab a pen and outline all of your hearts on your paper. I probably could have gotten 17 or 18 if I planned it out better, but such is life so I got 16. Also, if I had spread out my pulp a bit more, I also probably could have gotten more. Mine was kind of thick and warped a tiny bit when drying because of it.
Cut out all of your hearts with sharp scissors. I used the scissors I use for cutting Ryan’s hair (these) which sounds weird but I totally recommend – I use them a lot since they’re thin but super sharp. Pssssst, keep the scraps for yourself and plant them!
Then, print and cut your valentines – 4 fit to a page (3.5×5) – and you’re good! Cut them out (I did it by hand, but you can use one of these cool slicer things – I have this exact one that only costs $7, but it’s hiding somewhere in storage at my MIL’s, ha!) and then using a glue dot, adhere your seed paper to the valentine. Address and you’re done!
Don’t let the ‘making your own seed paper’ part scare you off – I swear I did it all while taking care of kiddos, making dinner, and cleaning. It’s not as time-consuming or difficult as it sounds!
Okay, so tell me – does making your own seed paper sounds doable? Have you ever used seed paper? Let me know in the comments!