Homemade ValentinesI have always loved Valentine’s Day. It is such a wonderful treat of a day to brighten the dark, cold, rainy, icky, gray (should I keep going) winter months. The holidays are long past and summer vacation is far away. Help! I need something to get me through to the sunny days to come.  Valentine’s Day to the rescue!

My love for the holiday started in grade school. Preparing for the BIG day took weeks! Finding the perfect box and decorating it with macaroni, glitter, paint and glue … to be 5-years-old again!

1st grade was the absolute best. My teacher brought in a huge, over-sized white mailbox. We were assigned the task of creating a Valentine for everyone in the class.

Throughout the week, the mailbox filled; fuller and fuller until it was all but overflowing. During art class, we created our own mailboxes to set upon our desks. And then, THE DAY… Mrs. Richstad would hand out the Valentines. What a miracle — it was a perfect, even distribution. Every student had a hefty collection of valentines to open, read, giggle and tuck away. No one was left out. She knew the value of “sharing the love” with everyone.

Valentine's Day Bouquet — Leanne and David Kesler, Floral Design Institute, Inc., in Portland, Ore.Today, I take that lesson to heart and “valentine” the world, or at least my small corner of it.  Of course, I need a super-special, one-of-a-kind valentine for my husband. Then, I get creative; preparing unique, fun, maybe even a little crazy, gifts for all my friends. I’ll spend days (ok, maybe hours) preparing to spread the love around.  After all, Valentine’s Day is not just for romantic love, but an opportunity to express admiration to many special people in your life.

Now it’s your turn. How many smiles will you create as you ask, “Will you be my Valentine?”  To get you started, here are a few of my favorite Valentine floral designs.  Your florist can bring all of your special gift ideas to life.

Valentine's Day Heart — Leanne and David Kesler, Floral Design Institute, Inc., in Portland, Ore.For the extra special person in your life, I suggest a contemporary hand-tied bouquet.  Lots of roses shout “I love you.” You’ll get extra bonus “love” points for choosing a unique color you know they will appreciate. Don’t know what their favorite color is?  (For shame!  Go ask….I’ll wait.) If you need to punt on color, choose the Pantone Color of the year, Radiant Orchid. It’s a “can’t miss” color choice.

Now, what about mom, your sister, grandmother or aunt, the special friend down the street or your BFF? For that, I like to stick with the classic red and white with a heart motif, of course! I want the flowers to shout, “Happy Valentine’s Day! You’re Special!” (Don’t we all want to hear that?) Update the look with curly willow for the heart and fabulous orchids. The hearts at the top are salvaged Christmas ornaments. Love the red? It’s colored foam. Ask Valentine's Day Hearts — Leanne and David Kesler, Floral Design Institute, Inc., in Portland, Ore.your florist. They can get it in a rainbow of colors.

Don’t forget your kids — whether still tied to your hip or off to college!  A funky little design with a touch of whimsy is perfect. Anthurium (with its heart shape) comes in a myriad of colors.  This design features red foam hearts, red foam in the cube and fabulous pearl accents … ooh la la!

Valentine's Day Garden — Leanne and David Kesler, Floral Design Institute, Inc., in Portland, Ore.Too much red and white for you? Valentine’s Day can be expressed in every color and every style.  For the gardening, flower lover in your life, think variety. A little of this and a little of that. This creative garden includes many of my favorite blooms: protea, hydrangea, lisianthus, mini pineapples, fragrant hyacinth, ranunculus and more. If you send an arrangement with more flowers than they can name, you win!

Are you inspired?

Take the lesson Mrs. Richstad taught me many years ago and “spread the love” with everyone. The world will be a better place on February 14 if we all have a valentine flower in our hand.

What do you hope to receive on Valentine’s Day?