Certainly you can pick up some chocolates or roses at the supermarket for your Valentine's Day gift, but local crafters say a handmade Valentine's Day gifts is truly "a sweet gesture" for the recipient and the giver.
Kari Less, of California, Mo., reaps benefits for both herself and others from her Valentine's Day crafting endeavors.
Less constructs handmade Valentine's Day gifts and cards for her family members and her sons' teachers, she said.
"For me, it's just the fact of them knowing they meant more to me and that I spent time making them something specific," she said.
In recent years, Less and her sons, 1 and 4, have made decorative birdhouses, candy bar covers and hand sanitizer pouches for their teachers, among other projects.
While creating the birdhouses required considerable effort, making the hand sanitizer pouches and candy bar covers was much simpler, Less said.
"The candy bars take about 10 minutes apiece. They're fun to make and not too hard," she said.
In designing gifts for the teachers and allowing her children to participate in their construction, they can use crafting skills that their teacher taught them and demonstrate their mastery, she said.
"It means a lot to her, that she taught them something they can return," she said.
Less first adopted card-making as a hobby during college when she joined a club that met monthly to make holiday cards, she said.
Now, Less has dedicated a room in her basement to her crafting, she said.
"For me, it's a stress reliever. I love art stuff so I can just sit there and make things for people," she said.
In addition to handmade gifts, Less will produce cards for her husband and other family members, often with the use of her set of stamps, she said.
"My husband and parents are happy to see the work I've put into it. They find joy in handmade items and crafts just because they know it took a lot more time than something you buy from the store," Less said.
The ability to customize a handmade gift according to the likes of a specific person is also an added perk, Less said.
"You can personalize it for them for how you feel or think about them. It's a holiday for love and friendship. There's no better way to show that than to sit down and make things for them," she said.
Though each gift may not epitomize perfection, Less said any shortcomings should not cause concern.
"Don't give up ... that's what makes it unique. It's the best holiday to take time to do things like that that are a little more thoughtful," she said.
Kimberly Scheidt, Jefferson City, owner of Inspired Designs, a gift boutique in California, also lauded the generosity and thoughtfulness of handmade Valentine's Day gifts.
"People like to give handmade gifts, especially at Valentine's Day. It just means a little more, I guess," she said.
Scheidt sells handmade merchandise at her boutique for a variety of occasions, one of which is Valentine's Day.
"All of the things I make anyone can do it. Most people don't want to make it but just go out and buy it, which is why I'm in business," she said.
For Valentine's Day, Scheidt creates a diverse assortment of gifts and cards of everything from wooden home decor to chapstick holders that attach to a key chain, she said.
"It (chapstick key fob) is an easy sewing craft project," she said.
Similarly to Less, Scheidt also makes candy bar covers, she said.
With her 5-year-old daughter, Scheidt creates melted crayon hearts, a project she characterizes as "easy and affordable," she said.
"It's a good project you can do with kids. It's neat to start them young," she said of her own daughters, 5 and 2.
In addition to the handmade gifts sold at her boutique, Scheidt also crafts items for her own gift-giving purposes, she said.
"For my nephews out of state, I like to make them something crafty. I enjoy it and the girls (her two daughters) enjoy it," she said.
"I like seeing the finished product ... and how my thoughts came together," she said.
Scheidt often seeks out suggestions for projects online, especially on websites dedicated to individual craftsmanship like Pinterest.
"It can jumpstart your ideas," she said.
"There's all sorts of inspiration and ideas you can get that are out there with a little bit of research. If you know the person, you know what they like," she said.
Scheidt emphasized the gratitude she receives upon giving someone a handmade gift.
"I love that expression when they're just excited and appreciative. They can see you really put extra thought into this," she said.
Scheidt also asserted her gratefulness for handmade gifts from others, especially those from her sister, who shares Scheidt's affinity for handmade gifts.
"Those are the things you treasure most in your house. My sister made this (collage) for me. If there's a fire, I'm going to grab that collage. It means more to you," she said.
Though creating handmade gifts may require some effort and creativity, Scheidt said making them does not necessarily require much more time than selecting a gift from a store.
"It's not about having time. It's about choosing to set the time aside. Take 15 minutes and see what kind of cute card you can come up with," she said.