Paper Roses (NOT the Marie Osmond song)

Whether it's Valentine's Day, an anniversary, a graduation or a 5th grade piano recital, we all seem to reach for flowers as the chosen token of gratitude. Yet, if you're a Practical Paula (like me), you'll stumble upon a few caveats when receiving bundles of foliage : 1) It's not an original idea, 2) They're expensive, and 3) They're going to die soon, anyway.

I'm not totally bashing flowers, here. They can actually be a really lovely gift idea. So, to avoid any of the above issues you'll run into when purchasing professional floral arrangements, why don't you give paper flowers this Valentine's Day instead? They're easy to make, they cost as much (or less) as live flowers, and THEY ARE IMMORTAL. So they'll stay beautiful forever.

You can find them in craft stores or online. Here's an example from Paper Source:

The kit comes with everything you need to assemble the flowers, plus directions! Directions, by golly! Didn't you always wish affectionate gestures came equipped with a set of directions? I know I did.

This kit to the left produces a bouquet of summer Magnolias, so when you're done, they should look like this below:

Lovely, no? The thing I like about this idea is that these will work great on an office desk or another small, crowded surface that needs a little color but does NOT need to be littered with decaying plant matter. And like I mentioned before, they last forever, so your loved one will always posess a little floral reminder of you. Aww.

Not a magnolia person? Here are some other Paper Source flower kit options:

Well, I'm officially obsessed. And did I mention that all these kits are 15 bucks? Not too shabby for flowers that last a lifetime. And Obviously, Paper Source is not your only option. There are a few kits on Amazon and Martha Stewart's website. If you don't feel like assembling this stuff yourself, I recently saw a bunch of ready-made flowers at Pier 1 for like, 75 cents each. Even cheaper than that? How Stuff Works has a tutorial on making flowers out of regular, old paper.

I guess the only issue we're left with is, can you give men paper flowers? Or flowers in general? I say yes, but maybe a Valentine's cactus would be more, err, manly. I'll do my research on paper cacti.

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