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While Valentine's Day is typically celebrated with the exchange of cards, flowers or candy, it is easy to create a Cupid-worthy ambience with handmade decor.

Whether you're looking for a way to enhance a cozy dinner for two or want to entertain the kids with matters of the heart, adorning surroundings is a great way to express your affection.

Decorating with paper is easy, budget-friendly and allows you to customize your setting. Stroll down the aisle of your favorite hobby shop, and you will see craft supplies have come a long way from the days of glitter and glue. Basic items, such as scrapbook paper, can be repurposed in innovative ways. When the scrapbook paper trend started more than a decade ago, most consumers purchased patterned paper for use in photo albums as a background for snapshots.

Today, paper has taken center stage as an integral part of the DIY movement and is used for wall art, centerpieces, handmade books and ceiling-to-floor accents.

Estimated at $32 billion a year, the craft industry encompasses damask-inspired stock, imported ribbon, specialized punches and much more. There are trade associations, blogs and websites devoted to all things paper. Domestic arts often see an upswing in a downturned economy. Some economists attribute this to the "nesting" factor, in which more time is spent at home.

This Valentine's Day, start with a signature item, such as a paper streamer, and add secondary pieces -- patterned plates, napkins and cups, for example -- to complement the overall aesthetic.

Tips and tricks

Select one or two solid colors to tone down a mix of patterned papers. A solid-color table covering can help establish a balance. Too many patterns in a limited space create visual chaos.

When selecting a theme, focus on universal icons, such as hearts.

Valentine streamer

You will need:

* Assorted decorative papers in pink and red (such as scrapbook paper)

* Heart-shaped craft punch (such as Marvy LV-MGCP01)

* Sewing needle

* Heavyweight thread or lightweight string

Scissors

Optional: ribbon and clear glue dots (such as Zots)

1. Use craft punch to cut heart shapes out of assorted papers.

2. Cut a piece of thread to desired streamer length, allowing a few extra inches at ends.

3. Thread the needle. Begin by drawing the needle through a top corner of first heart, across the back of the paper and then back through the front opposite top corner.

4. Continue with remaining heart shapes until desired length is achieved.

5. Optional: Tie ribbon into bows and add to streamer with glue dots.

Streamers can be draped across a doorway, over a mirror, above a sideboard or against a wall. To attach them, use removable tape or stickers that will not damage wall surfaces or paint. If using glue dots, which are considered semi-permanent, test an area first. Tie the string to a chandelier for a vertical display.

Resources

Archiver's: www.archiversonline.com

Michael's Arts & Crafts: www.michaels.com for area locations

Hobby Lobby: www.hobbylobby.com for area locations

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