By Rebekah Devorak | Opinions Editor
While some cynics out there might declare Valentine’s Day nothing more than a “Hallmark Holiday,” it’s a wonderful opportunity to be extra-sweet to those you love most. Be it a significant other, sibling, parent, cousin or best friend — the list of people you can thank on this day is virtually endless.
What is not endless, however, is the amount of time you have to think of the perfect gift.
As the days are ticking away and Cupid himself seems to be looming over your shoulder, you might be tempted by cliché heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and oversized, overstuffed teddy bears.
But with a little time, effort and creativity, you can easily concoct a Pinterest-worthy present that will put any drugstore offering to shame. We at The Duke have three different gift ideas that your friends and family are sure to love. They will be impressed and touched that you harnessed your inner craftiness to create something just for them.
After all, the best gifts are always the ones you make with your very own two hands.
Burning Love: Mason Jar Candle
Got a friend who loves candles but lives in a dorm? This craft uses battery-operated tealights instead, so he or she can invoke a relaxing ambiance without the risk of burning down Towers. The painted mason jar is also great for anyone who loves a rustic feel to their interior design. As a warning, this project does take three to four hours to complete, so be wary of a time-crunch if you tend to procrastinate.
What you need: mason jar, pink or red spray paint, painter’s tape, box cutter or scissors, black marker, twine, battery-operated tealight candle
What you do: First, uncap the mason jar, and set the lid aside. Then, place strips of painter’s tape across one side of the mason jar only. Using a black marker, draw a large heart onto the painter’s tape. Using a box cutter or pair of scissors, carefully trace the heart to cut out the shape. Gently peel back the excess painter’s tape until you are left with just the heart. Using spray paint – pink or red is great for Valentine’s Day – coat the mason jar entirely, making sure to spray over the heart. Let the mason jar dry completely based on the spray paint directions. Once it is dry, carefully peel the painter’s tape off of the jar. Next, tie twine around the neck of the jar for decoration. Place a battery-operated tealight candle into the jar, and switch it on.
A Tote Bag, To Carry All Your Love
This present is perfect for the gal who is always on the run. She can toss her books, her lunch or whatever else she may need for the day in this adorable tote before dashing off to class. Bonus: Each time she glances down at the heart painted on the side, she’ll be sure to think of you.
What you need: a canvas bag, a pencil with eraser, a piece of paper, a marker, scissors, acrylic paint
What you do: First, place the canvas bag on a flat surface. Next, draw a large heart on the piece of paper, and cut it out using a pair of scissors. Tape that heart to the center of the bag. Using the pencil’s eraser, dip it in one paint color of your choice. Dot the paint around the paper heart. Continue doing this with each of the paint colors until desired effect is achieved. Let the paint dry, and then remove the paper heart.
Puppy (Love) Chow
If you are totally DIY-deficient, fear not. This recipe is not only simple and delicious, but the mason jar presentation makes it look like you took a lesson from Martha Stewart herself. Valentine’s Day M&Ms add a nice touch of color to finish it off.
What you need: Mason jar, twine or ribbon, 1 box (18 oz.) Rice Chex, 2 cups chocolate chips, 1 cup peanut butter, 3/4 cup unsalted butter, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 5 cups powdered sugar, 1 bag Valentine’s Day M&M’s
What you do: First, pour the entire box of Rice Chex into a large bowl. It’s best to use a bowl that you may think is larger than you need. Place butter, chocolate chips and peanut butter in a separate microwavable bowl. Microwave for 60 seconds, and stir until smooth. If the chocolate chips aren’t melted yet, microwave for 30 second intervals, and stir in between until completely mixed. Add vanilla extract, and stir once more until incorporated. Pour the mixture over the Rice Chex. Using a spatula, gently stir until all of the pieces are entirely covered. Next, add the powdered sugar a little bit at a time, until all of the Rice Chex pieces are coated.
Spoon the completed Puppy Chow into a clean mason jar. Alternate between layers of Rice Chex and Valentine’s Day M&M’s to get a colorful, festive gift. Screw the cap of the mason jar on, and tie a piece of twine or patterned ribbon around the neck of the jar.