This Valentine's Day, we're making sweet little 'Palentine's' for all the unsung heroes in our lives

Tiny tokens of appreciation you can create from things you already have at home.

Tiny tokens of appreciation you can create from things you already have at home

(All photography by Laura Dawe)

While we put a lot of emphasis on what romantic relationships do for us, we tend to hesitate when it comes to defining exactly what our friendships are for. In the video The Purpose of Friendship, social philosopher Alain de Botton suggests that our friendships can feel unsatisfying at times because they lack purpose. There are, however, specific reasons that we really need friends in our lives: fun, reassurance, networking, clarifying our minds — just to name a few.

This Valentine's Day, we're all about celebrating the unsung heroes that fulfill these vital, if rarely examined, roles. And what better way to do so than with a heartfelt DIY that shows them just how much they matter. Here are three simple 'Palentine' ideas for the people (and pets) who make our lives better in ways we may not always consider, all of which can be made with stuff you likely have laying around, perhaps while watching the most romantic episodes of all your favourite sitcoms.

Your work BFF

Your relationship blossomed out of the fact that neither of you are allowed to leave. They're the Jim to your Pam, the Mindy Kaling to your BJ Novak. You may have more inside jokes than things in common, but together you're getting the job done.

De Botton says we need a network of helpful friends because "...our individual capacities are entirely insufficient to realise the demands of our imaginations." Or, possibly, the demands of our bosses.

To create a special token for that ride-or-die officemate, start by purchasing their favourite caffeinated beverage.The rest of the supplies you should have on hand no matter where you're employed. The most important thing about this cup is that you make it at work.

To make this special cup, here's what you'll need:

  • A to-go coffee cup and sleeve, the plainer the better
  • Drawing supplies (I used grease pencils)
  • A glue stick (a stapler or tape will also work in a pinch)

Here's how to do it:

1. Crack open the coffee sleeve so it's easier to decorate. Using your drawing supplies, draw your work person's head on the sleeve. I looked at a Facebook profile picture to really nail the likeness here.

2. Glue (or staple or tape) the sleeve back together and write a poem, inside joke, confession of a long term crush etc., around it.

3. Hand it to them wordlessly as though there is nothing through-the-roof ridiculous about it — ideally while the drink is still hot!

Your hairdresser

I don't know about you, but my hairdresser knows some weird stuff about me, and I know some weird stuff about them. They play the role of therapist, stylist and friend. You tell them your fears about your looks, your relationship, your parents, and when they reassure the shit out of you, you believe them because they've heard it all.

This category could also include your barista or bartender.

To make this card, here's what you'll need:

  • Cardstock (I used an old file divider)
  • Pencil
  • A photo of yourself (or you can draw one on)
  • Scissors
  • Fake hair (I cut mine off of old Halloween wigs, but your sources are your own business)
  • Glue gun
  • Drawing supplies (I used grease pencils)

1. Cut a folded card out of the cardstock, big enough that your photo fits in the centre with some room around it. Cut yourself out of your photo, and trace your head onto the front of the card.

2. Cut a hole where you traced your head, and lightly trace inside the hole so you know where to glue your photo so it lines up perfectly. Glue yourself into the inside of the card.

3. Glue your "styled" hair to the front of the card. You could also, with much less mess and hassle, simply draw your hair on.

4. Glue (or draw) your pre-styled hair to the inside of the card.

5. Write this platonically romantic message and book an appointment for V-Day!

Your cat

De Botton says, "Life gives us constant lessons in the need to be serious. We have to guard our dignity, avoid looking like a fool and pass as a mature adult…. That's why we constantly need access to people that we can trust enough to be silly with them."

While he is talking about neurosurgeons letting loose, de Botton could also easily be referring to our pets. Who can we be sillier around than them? Who cares less for our dignity? One of the reasons we love our cats so much is because they don't give a fluff about Valentine's Day, or, in fact, have any idea what it is. Their priorities are few and clear, and catnip is definitely on the list.

To make this catnip pillow, here's what you'll need:

  • Cardstock (I used an old divider)
  • Drawing supplies (I used grease pencils)
  • Scissors
  • Scrap fabric
  • A variety of needles
  • Embroidery yarn (optional)
  • Thread
  • Catnip

Here's how to do it:

1. Cut a hand-sized heart out of your cardstock and trace it onto your fabric. Cut out two fabric hearts.

2. Using your grease pencil, lightly sketch your cat's name onto the fabric. Using your yarn, carefully embroider over the pencil markings. This step is completely optional.

3. Using a needle and thread, sew the two hearts together, good sides facing one another. Leave a gap in one side of the heart.

4. Flip your heart inside out and stuff it with leftover scrap fabric and, of course, catnip.

5. Once it's stuffed, sew the gap closed and watch your cat get sillier than ever.

Laura Dawe is a painter, director and teacher living in Toronto. She teaches a popular drawing and painting workshop called Joyful Still Lives. Follow her Instagram  @daweski to see more!


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