Alternatives to Valentine’s Day Candy to Pass Out at School

As I walked past my porch pumpkins for the 103rd day post-Halloween (Yes! It’s been 103 days! Can you believe it?!) it struck me–Monday is Valentine’s Day! Holy Cannoli! It also struck me that my pumpkins are lasting unusually long, which is slightly concerning! Anyway, here I am, two days before Valentine’s Day and my daughter has nothing to hand out to her classmates. I could grab a few “Valentine’s Day Card Kits”. You know the ones that come with cards AND candy together in a box? But I like my daughter’s teacher. I’m not wild about adding fuel (in this case sugary candy) to the already fiery kids in her class. So instead, I racked my brain for good alternatives to Valentine’s Day candy.

Here are a few quick and simple “crafts” perfect for handing out during Monday’s Valentine’s Day card exchange. Make sure to visit our Pinterest to find all of the instructions and “ingredients” for these fun DIY ideas! And if you want to get super crafty, check out our other articles on Valentine’s Day crafts for kids and moms!


Kid creating DIY Valentine's Day card with heart cutouts

DIY Cards

Hand-making cards is a yearly tradition in our house–for my daughter, that is. I just supply the materials and help write names, messages, and address the envelopes. I’m by no means a card maker, but I know how to fold the cardstock in half! My daughter loves using her creativity to design the card and the independence of choosing what materials to use to decorate.

What supplies do you need? Everything and anything! I’m just kidding. But I do love putting an assortment together. I typically go to Dollar Tree or hunt the clearance section of Michaels to find stickers, stamps (don’t forget the ink pads!), pompoms, googly eyes, foam cutouts, sequins, feathers, construction paper, etc. We use cardstock we already have on hand, but if you need some, the local craft stores normally have pretty good deals on a stack of assorted colors or you can use a store coupon. Sometimes you can get a good deal and use a coupon on top!

We use one piece of cardstock for each card and fold it in half “hamburger style”. I prefer the letter size cardstock since my daughter is younger and likes the extra space to write messages and draw pictures, but the half sheet size works great too! I put all of the materials together in a festive Valentine’s Day box or bowl (also available at Dollar Tree) and then let her go to town digging through to choose each embellishment.

Additional items to add to your “supply box” or make sure you have on hand are scissors, markers/crayons/pencils, tape, glue and pens. We do glitter and paint at our house too, but that’s at your discretion. The cards normally turn out so cute, they are a treat all on their own, but if you prefer your child pass out cards and a small gift, keep reading for super fun alternatives to Valentine’s Day candy that pair well with DIY cards.

Just a note: If you plan to send the cards to family, make sure to grab a pack of 5×9 envelopes while you’re at Dollar Tree. They are the perfect size for mailing these cards!


“Magnetic Sand”

Parents hate it! Kids love it! My adult sister without any kids?! Well, she loves it, too. A pack of this sticky sand came in a toy my daughter received for Christmas last year. My mom, knowing it would be nothing but a mess, put it in a bag and declared it off limits. No matter how old we get, when Mom says something is off limits, that ‘something’ becomes so much more tempting! In less than an hour of my mom banning the sand, I found my 34-year-old sister in the kitchen, hand deep in the bag, squishing it over and over again. It turns out there is something very therapeutic about wet, sticky sand.

It also turns out I have saved several “recipes” over the last few years for DIY ‘magnetic sand.’ I always thought it’d be a fun alternative to making slime, but when given the choice, my daughter has always chosen to make slime over magnetic sand. After finding so much enjoyment in squishing a small amount, I just had to wonder if making a huge batch of it would have the same effect. But, after the making is done, what does one do with a massive tub of magnetic sand? Pass it along to friends of course!

Now, if you don’t want the other parents and possibly your child’s teacher to despise you, this may not be one of the best alternatives to Valentine’s Day candy. But if you’re willing to take your chances and want to have a little messy fun over the weekend, I highly recommend giving it a try! You can package it up in Valentine’s Day themed treat bags, small plastic snack containers, or just use an ordinary snack bag.


Pink heart-shaped Valentine's Day bath bombs

Bath Bombs

Who doesn’t love a good bath bomb?! No matter how young or how old, there is something for everyone to love. I personally enjoy the skin nourishing benefits and the soothing scents. My daughter loves the fizzing and the colored water. One thing we both enjoy is concocting our own bath bombs.

When my daughter was in diapers, and even transitioning to being potty trained and wearing pull ups, she was prone to even a slight diaper rash becoming a horrific cyst. We tried the pre-packaged colloidal oatmeal bath soaks to sooth her skin, but it just wasn’t cutting it. Then I discovered cornstarch baby powder (which does wonders!) and baking soda bath soaks. After some more research, I realized that all the recommended bath additives could be combined into the perfect bath bomb. And so bath bombs–specifically formulated for my daughter’s bottom–became a thing in our house.

DIY bath bombs don’t take very long to mix up and it’s a very kid-friendly activity. My daughter chooses the colors, scents and shapes. You can go with the standard bath bomb mold or to make the bath bombs a little more festive, I recommend checking out your local craft store for silicone baking and ice cube molds. This is where being a last minute mama pays off.

Most craft stores start marking down their Valentine’s Day items well ahead of the holiday, with steeper discounts as it gets closer to the day. You can also pick up some cute packaging (at a discount, of course) while you are at the craft store or just use your run of the mill Ziploc bag. And don’t forget to label each package so kids (and their parents!) know this isn’t an edible treat! Better to be safe than sorry kind of thing!

P.S. Bath bombs, DIY bath soaks (aka bath salts) and body scrub all make great teacher gifts, too! For the younger kids who may have a teacher, teacher’s assistant(s), after school care providers, and babysitters, holiday gifts can quickly get expensive (and overwhelming!). Making a big batch of bath bombs or body scrub is a super efficient and cost-effective way to let everyone in your child’s life know they are appreciated, without breaking the bank!



Okay, okay I know what you’re thinking with this one. Slime is sticky, messy and doesn’t fit the bill for great alternatives to Valentine’s Day candy. But it goes back to my thinking of what do I do with all of this mess my daughter just created?! I love doing hands-on activities with my daughter that involve mixing “ingredients” together. Most of the results can only be stored for a few days at most and it just feels like a big ol’ waste to me. (Unless it’s cookies, and then you can always freeze those for later! But cookies are not good alternatives to Valentine’s Day candy either, so let’s pretend I didn’t just bring them up).

My daughter loves making slime, but her enjoyment of playing with it afterwards is short lived. So is my patience. Has anyone else experienced this phenomena where your kid will spend a heck of a lot of time making something and get bored with it quickly afterwards, but if you give them a pre-made container of the same thing, they are entertained for hours? It can’t just be me! So what better way to let my daughter get the slime making out of her system and not be stuck with Tupperware container on top of Tupperware container stacked to the ceiling, right?

The key to “gifting” the slime for Valentine’s Day is to make sure to properly package it. I feel like every “slime kit” we’ve ever purchased came with a bunch of tiny little storage cups, far too small to store the mega slime we typically end up with, so we have a bunch of slime storage containers at our house. But if you don’t already have these laying around, Dollar Tree usually carries small “snack” size containers in packs of six or eight. Craft stores also carry small plastic containers perfect for slime, too.

Simply make your slime (or slimes!), divide it among the containers, and close them tightly. To keep the kids out of trouble, you might want to drop each container into a treat bag and tie it closed. Or for those crafty mommas, shrink wrap is a great way to keep the kids out of the containers at school!


Bath Slime & Bath Fun

Our mom rarely allowed us to do anything that could potentially result in a mess. Even bubble baths were a special occasion because of the bubbly soap ring left behind in the tub. If we played outside, my mom scrubbed our feet with a bristle brush before we were allowed to go inside. Thirty years later and I can still picture the scrub brush. It was green and shaped like a turtle. My sister had a yellow duck.

Glitter? Forget about it! Obsessive cleanliness was just the norm in our house. But one thing we were allowed to do was finger paint in the bath. I don’t remember what brand it was or how it was packaged, but I remember the bright colors and the smell. It’s one of those smells you wish you could bottle and keep forever. It may have also had Sesame Street characters associated with it, but don’t quote me on that.

Shortly after my daughter was born, I discovered Crayola makes a whole line of bath products. They make everything from “Bubbly Bath Goo” to “Bathtub Body Wash Pens” and even “Bathtub Finger Paint”. Let me tell you, the nostalgia I felt was real. But unfortunately, I didn’t like the consistency of any of the products. The body wash pens were hard to squeeze and faint in color. Both the goo and finger paints were watery. It just wasn’t doing it for me, so of course I turned to my pal, the Internet.

A whole world of DIY bath time fun exists for your exploration! I found instructions on how to make everything from bathtub crayons to bathtub play dough and even bath-safe confetti!

Yeah, all of these things are still going to be pretty messy to make, but imagine the ease of cleanup afterwards. It’s a two-for-one. My daughter gets to create and my counters (and floor!) get a nice soapy wipe down. I find little room there to complain.

Grab a few packages of cosmetic travel containers from Dollar Tree (Are you starting to see a trend here?) to package your creations and you’re good to go!


Play Dough

This is probably your safest bet for the younger kids–or the ones who can’t resist temptation. It still allows your kid to create a custom gift, but without the chance classmates will rip into it and spread Valentine’s Day cheer via a sticky, messy disaster in the classroom. You might as well just pass out candy!

I actually got this idea from another mom who handed out small Ziploc bags of scented pink play dough to my daughter’s play group a few years ago. My daughter couldn’t have been more than 18-months-old. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that she should pass out Valentine’s Day cards. It was one of those moments as a first-time parent that makes you go, “Oh yeah! I remember this from childhood. I forgot it was a thing!”.

Luckily, that mom was one of those always prepared well in advance type moms. She had handed out the play dough a week before Valentine’s Day. The gave me plenty of time to grab some card kits from the store to hand out at the next play group. Phew!


I thought I’d would be one of those well prepared moms… eventually, but here we are four years later and what am I doing?! Writing an article about last-minute alternatives to Valentine’s Day candy because, well, I’m a last-minute mom! At least I can admit that, right?

In my defense, my daughter’s school only sent home mention of passing out cards last Friday. So really, how prepared could I have been?! I mean, I wasn’t about to invest in cutesy cards only to find out my daughter’s class wasn’t doing a card exchange. My luck, I’d pick out cards with some character my daughter loves now, but will hate by next Valentine’s Day. What is one to do with 28 Yoda cards and candy sure to go stale within a year anyway?!

If you’re scrambling for last-minute alternatives to Valentine’s Day candy, know that you are not alone! What are your kids passing out Monday? Tell me in the comments below!