Love don’t cost a thing (paging all J.Lo fans), so this Valentine’s Day consider putting your creativity where your heart is by making a handmade card or gift for your friends and loved ones at free events around the area. Or spend a little on something that will go a long way, such as a wooden bean bag toss game or a floral teacup. And while you’re at it, make a few extra cards to send to troops, hospital patients and elderly residents in your neighborhood. It’s easy to drop them off at your local nursing home, assisted living facility or hospital for the staff to distribute. Here are nine options to hearten your holiday.

Photo: Colleen Proppe via flickr

Valentine’s Day Card Workshop at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Create some homemade love using various materials and then take it to the museum’s stamp store to send your masterpieces to family and friends with a museum postmark. This event takes place on the firstfloor atrium.

Cost: Free
When: Feb. 10 & 11, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: 2 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Online: postalmuseum.si.edu

Valentine’s Day Card Workshop at Petworth Library
Kiddos ages 4 and up can make Valentines for their loved ones at this event. No need to bring anything; the library will provide all the supplies. Please note that the library will also collect handmade cards to donate to patients at Children’s National Medical Center, so this is a special opportunity to really spread the healing power of love.

Cost: Free
When: Feb. 6, 7 & 8; 4:30 p.m.
Where: 4200 Kansas Ave., NW
Online: dclibrary.org

Valentine’s Day Craft at Tenley-Friendship Library
Stop by any time between 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 to make a “heart-y” craft at this drop-in event. It’s best for toddlers through age 12 and will be available only while supplies last.

Cost: Free
When: Feb. 11, 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Where: 4450 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Online: dclibrary.org

Photo: Franklin Park Library via flickr

Valentine Bean Bag Toss at The Home Depot
Build a small, wooden bean bag-toss board and then decorate it with paint and stickers. Besides taking their creations home, kiddos also get an orange Home Depot apron, a certificate of achievement and a commemorative pin. Note: This craft may also be available at any of the 20 Home Depot locations in the D.C. metro area.

Cost: Free
When: Feb. 3, 9 a.m.-noon
Where: 12275 Price Club Plaza (Fairfax, Va)
Online: homedepot.com

Valentines Tea and Chocolate! at Brookside Gardens
Children ages 7 and up – and their parents – will celebrate the holiday with tea and chocolatey treats. Attendees can learn about chocolate and make a valentine and a teacup floral arrangement to give to someone special on Feb. 14.

Cost: $18
When: Feb. 11, 2-4 p.m.
Where: 1800 Glenallan Ave. (Wheaton, Md)
Online: montgomeryparks.org

Valentine Mini Tea, Craft and Badge Earning Party at Green Acres Center
Get a head-start on Valentine’s Day at this event, which will feature music, crafts, a mini tea party and a lesson in table manners. Crafts include candy charm bracelets, stitching a puppy and bead Valentine ornaments. Sweets, sweet tea and lemonade will be served. Note that Girl Scouts, Daisy and Brownie members can earn badges for attending, but the event is open to non-Girl Scouts, too.

Cost: $25/person by Jan. 31, $30/person afterward
When: Feb. 11, 12:30 p.m.
Where: 4401 Sideburn Rd. (Fairfax, Va)
Online: eventbrite.com

Photo: Pablove

Tween Valentine Card Making Workshop at Paper Source
A class for the older set – 8-14 – participants will make five or six Valentines for friends and family using stickers, stamps and washi, a Japanese paper. Activities covered include heat embossing, doodling and painting. Registrants get a 10 percent off coupon.

Cost: $26
When: Feb. 3, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Where: 3019 M St., NW; 118 King St. (Alexandria, Va); 2910 District Ave., #120 (Fairfax, Va); 11975 Market St. (Reston, Va); 4805 Bethesda Ave. (Bethesda, Md)
Online: papersource.com

Soldiers’ Angels
This is a DIY project. Make cards at home and send them to Soldiers’ Angels, an organization that will distribute them to deployed troops who can’t be with their loved ones on Valentine’s Day. Include $1 with each card to help cover the distribution costs.

Online: soldiersangels.org

E-Cards for Valentine’s Day at Children’s National Health System
It doesn’t get much easier than this. Pick a card design and fill in the blanks: your name, email, postal code and a message. There’s even a link with suggestions of what to say to keep the note light and loving.

Online: giving.childrensnational.org

Do you know of any other places where you can DIY a cool Valentine’s card or gift? Tell us in the comments.

—Stephanie Kanowitz

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