cocoaCreative Valentine’s Day Gifts

By Beth Engelman

This Valentine’s Day, show the love without breaking the bank with these quick, easy and inexpensive gifts and activities.

Cocoa Bath Mix

Even your rubber ducky will quack with delight when bathing in this silky and luxurious bath mix. Marshmallows not included!

You will need:

2 cups powdered milk
1/4-cup cocoa
2 tablespoons cornstarch


In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Pour mix into a recycled jar or cellophane bag. Create a cute label by hand or on the computer and secure with ribbon, raffia or a swatch of fabric.

Hand Painted Scratch and Sniff Cards

Who knew Kool-Aid was so functional? This easy paint recipe will sweeten any homemade card. For a cool twist, try mixing different scents with surprising colors (for example make a grape-scented orange or a strawberry-scented grape!)

You will need:

•Washable Paints (any color)
•Unsweetened powdered drink mix


In a small container, mix 1 Tbsp of drink mix, with 1 tsp of HOT water. Stir until the powder has dissolved. Pour 1 tsp of paint into a small container (I recommend an empty egg container or muffin tin). Add 1/2 tsp of the powdered drink mixture to the paint and stir together well. Continue making paint using this ratio: for every tsp of paint add 1/2 tsp of your powdered drink mixture.

Craft and Photo Courtesy of Mandy H from

Craft and Photo Courtesy of Mandy H from

Decoder Cookies

For mystery buffs like me, cracking a code while eating a cookie might just be the perfect combo! Thank you to Mandy and her blog, Gourmet Mom on the Go for sharing this recipe.

You will need:

•Refrigerated raw sugar cookie dough (use your favorite recipe or buy the store-bought slice and bake” variety at your local grocery store).
•Transparent Red Hard Candies (Jolly Ranchers or lifesavers work well)
•Light blue, red, orange and pink markers


Prepare the cookies: On floured surface roll a portion of the dough to 1/4″ thick. Cut out with large heart cookie cutter (approx. 4″) and place 1″ apart on baking sheet. Cut center with a slightly smaller heart cutter and remove dough. Using a small teaspoon carefully fill center with crushed candy. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden on edges. Cool completely before removing cookies.

Prepare the Secret Message Valentines: Use a light blue marker (or colored pencil) to write a message on an index card. Use red, orange and pink markers to cover the message with lines, zigzags and swirls. Place the decoder cookie over the hidden message and the original message will “magically” appear.

Kid friendly Ice Sculptures and Snow Sprays

Decorate your front yard without spending a dime with these easy to make ice sculptures and colorful snow sprays!

Ice Sculptures

Use muffin tins, cake pans and cookie cutters to make your decorative shapes. Add water and a few drops of food coloring to each container and place in a freezer (or outside) until the blocks of ice are frozen solid. When using cookie cutters: Place cookie cutter in a pan and fill with water, ensuring the water level is just above the top rim of the cookie cutter prior to freezing. When you are ready to build the sculptures, remove each ice blocks from their containers. If this proves to be difficult, try thawing the ice for a few minutes or submerge in a bowl of warm water. Once the blocks are removed, start building! Use a pinch of salt or layers of slushy snow as “glue” to make the blocks stick together. Best of all, when your kids are all done playing with their blocks, they can leave them as is and let Mother Nature take care of the clean up.

Snow Paints

This craft is a dream come true for my four-year-old son who loves to spray water at anything and everything. Fill up empty spray bottles with water and a few drops of food coloring. Have your kids take the spray bottles outside and spray the snow different colors – creating a colorful heart mosaic in honor of Valentine’s Day.