DIY Valentine’s Day Gift – “Places We’ve Been”

DIY Valentine's Day Gift

Hey guys, so I know I’ve blogged about the Places We’ve Been DIY before, but I wanted to bring it up to the front for any newcomers or anyone that may have missed it the first time around.  I originally made this as an anniversary gift for Daniel, but it would make an amazing DIY Valentine’s Day Gift for your significant other!  Very romantic and meaningful, and chock full of memories!  Not to mention it’s also quick, easy, and inexpensive!

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 pieces of Matboard, both at least 12×12 inches
  • Mod Podge (or any glue you prefer)
  • Sharp scissors
  • A heart stencil
  • 12 printed maps
  • 12×12 picture frame
  • Cardstock, or any thick paper (optional)

Here’s what you do:

Obviously this project is all about the maps, so the first thing I did was figure out how I wanted them to look.  I did this DIY right before moving to Portland, so I was working on limited time and a small budget.  Because of that, I personally chose to use Google Maps and print them out at home.  Easy peasy!  It was also a great choice for me because I wanted to control what would be seen within the heart, so zooming was key.  You could also use an Atlas, Thomas Guide, or look for old maps at a thrift store if you want more variety.

DIY Heart Maps

Because we were about to move from Los Angeles to a new home in Portland, I chose to include a map of the neighborhood we dearly loved but had to leave behind.  You can use any heart stencil you’d like – as for me, I didn’t have one (remember that whole uncrafty crafter thing?).  So I just searched for an image of a heart I liked and printed it out on cardstock, thus making my own stencil!  That’s a little crafty, right?

DIY Heart Maps

I stenciled and cut out each heart, and before I knew it, I had 12 perfect little sentimental maps laid out before me.  This is the moment when I got really excited because I knew the project was going to turn out just as I had imagined it!   Which is always a little shocking to me.  Here are some measurements for your reference:  the widest part of the heart measured in at 2 1/2″, and from the top point to the bottom point it measured out to 2 3/4″.  This size worked perfectly for me based on 12 hearts and a 12×12 frame.  You’ll want to adjust the sizes depending on how many hearts you’re planning on using.

Next, I pasted each heart on a piece of matboard with Mod Podge and then cut out each heart again.  The reason I did this is because I wanted the hearts to have a 3D effect.  I used a pair of scissors to do this, and even though they were REALLY dull, it was still fairly easy to cut through the matboard.  With sharp scissors it should be a breeze, but use whatever cutting tool works best for you!

DIY Heart Maps

I tried to get fancy and penciled in a mathematical grid onto the matboard to try and ensure all the hearts would line up perfectly.  It mostly worked.  The grid was totally wrong, but it still helped me eyeball them into the right placement!

I pasted each heart onto a 12×12 piece of matboard using Mod Podge (you will most likely have to cut your matboard down to size), and weighed it down with heavy books for about 48 hours to make sure the edges wouldn’t curl up.  As for placement, I arranged the maps mainly by how they looked, not by chronological order.  I didn’t want two mostly blue hearts next to each other, same with the green.  I also wanted to make sure our neighborhood heart was kind of in the middle, and because a lot of the places we visited were in California and on the East Coast, I tried to vary those from each other as well.

DIY Heart MapsAfter that, all that was left was putting the finished project in a frame!  I really liked the idea of a white picture frame, since almost all the frames in our house are black.  Apparently white frames aren’t very popular though.  I searched for a LONG time to find the perfect white 12×12 frame, and still didn’t have that many options.  In the end, I decided to go with this frame, and I am more than pleased with it.  It’s not the highest quality frame I’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t look cheap and feels very sturdy.

So, here it is, my completed DIY Valentine’s Day gift – Places We’ve Been!

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of my DIY and the original product I was inspired by.  What do you think?  I really loved how it turned out.  The original is over $500, and in total mine only cost me about $20.  Much easier on my wallet!

DIY Heart Maps vs. Pinspiration

Bonus:  The Gift Wrap!

Anniversary Gift Wrapping

I love to make gift wrap just as meaningful as the gift itself, and I thought I’d share what I did in case anyone is looking for some wrapping inspiration.

All I did was take brown packing paper (which came from an Amazon shipment), and with a black Sharpie wrote the lyrics from our song in cursive (in case you’re wondering, our song is “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” by Elvis Presley).  Simple as that!

There you have it!  I hope this tutorial gave you all inspiration to make your own DIY Valentine’s Day gift!

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