STYLE
02/08/2012 04:32 EST | Updated 04/09/2012 05:12 EDT

Lollipops, glow sticks help ensure your Valentines won't fall flat

Worried that your Valentines will fall flat? Make them stand out, literally, by incorporating small treats like lollipops or glow sticks.

If your child likes to ham it up for the camera, this is a great way to create a cute, personalized Valentine. For the lollipop version, take a picture of your child with her hand in a fist and arm outstretched. After the picture is printed, cut small slits through the card at the top and bottom of the hand and slip the lollipop stick through the slits, so it appears as if she is holding the treat.

This idea has been making the rounds of craft and photography blogs for years — I first spotted an adorable version created by Alissa Eng at 24-7-365.blogspot.com in 2009. But it wasn't until I saw another 3D Valentine created by Megan Pyrah at Brassyapple.blogspot.com a few weeks ago that I was inspired to make my own version.

Pyrah printed a picture of a light sabre hilt from "Star Wars," and attached a thin glow stick to the card to resemble the beam of light. As the mother of a "Star Wars"-obsessed second grader, I immediately decided to combine the two ideas. I had my son pose with a flash light as his "hilt," cut a slit in the card and added a glow stick — the narrow, 20-centimetre kind sold as bracelets.

The chance to play Jedi knight was enough to convince him to pose for a few pictures, but if your child is being stubborn or camera shy, you still can create cute 3D Valentines by having their favourite toys stand in as models. He actually ended up preferring a version I made featuring one of his Lego minifigures, and I borrowed my niece's Hello, Kitty, figurine to come up with a girly version.

Ideally, you'll want to use a toy that has movable limbs, so you position the arm to look like it is holding the lollipop or glow stick.

MATERIALS:

— a willing child or small toy

— coloured or white card stock (if using toys)

— a camera

— photo editing software

— printer

— sharp scissors or craft knife

— tape

— lollipops or glow sticks

INSTRUCTIONS:

1) If using a child as model, have him or her stand in front of a blank wall. For lollipop cards, have the child hold his or her arm outstretched, making a fist. Take a picture.

2) If using a toy, use two pieces of cardstock to make a backdrop. Place one piece flat and the other leaning up against a wall. Position the toy on the paper with its arm outstretched. Take a picture.

3) Using photo editing software, crop your picture. If you crop the images to 10-by-15 centimetres, you can get them printed at any large drugstore. Or make them different sizes for printing at home on photo paper or card stock.

4) If desired, use photo editing software to remove the background from the image and replace it with something else. For the cards I created for my son and nephew, I downloaded an "outer space" image from the NASA website and used that for the background. You also can add a message or your child's name. For the lollipop version, consider "I'm sweet on you, Valentine." For the "Star Wars" version, try, "May the force be with you, Valentine."

5) Print pictures.

6) Use scissors or a craft knife to cut slits in the cards to insert the lollipops or glow sticks. If necessary, tape the sticks on the back of the card to secure.