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Ask An Expert: DIY Gift Ideas

Do-it-yourselfer extraordinaire Shelley Wilson loves cruising craft stores, thrift shops, garage sales and antique fairs for supplies. She says you can make easy, inexpensive and unique presents with "re-purposed buttons, toy soldiers, old maps, fabric, dollhouse furniture and photographs."
Shelley Wilson (Credit, Valerie Heimerich))

Shelley Wilson
Ben Bridge Jeweler
1151 Galleria Blvd. Suite 137
RosevilleCA 95678
(916) 780-7733

Folsom resident Shelley Wilson loves the creative process involved in crafting and designing gifts. Growing up in her father's upholstery shop, she remembers "trotting out my Barbie and having the seamstresses teach me how to sew outfits for her." She is a self-confessed fabric addict, and enjoys sewing, sculpting, painting, doll making and creating fun and fanciful costumes and clothing. Through her experiences working at Ben Bridge Jeweler in the Westfield Roseville Galleria, Wilson has become fascinated with the process of making custom jewelry as well.

Superhero Cufflinks

Cufflinks can be a cool personal accessory for your favorite sharp-dressed man or woman. Wilson says she particularly loves this easy and inexpensive gift because of the endless possible variations.

Your cufflinks can feature small superhero figurines, toy soldiers, plastic paratroopers, Lego blocks, mini disco mirror balls or virtually anything that has a flat section that can be attached to a cufflink pad. Get two cufflink backs, which are available in craft stores and online for as little as $1 a pair. Follow package instructions for a quick-bonding glue, and attach the desired item on the pad of the cufflink. Allow to dry for at least 24 hours, or until the attached item cannot move at all.

Other fun cufflink options include Matchbox cars, engraved pet ID tags, coins, guitar picks, dice or even miniature furniture, tools and other items from your daughter's dollhouse.

Related: Best Places For Unique Christmas Ornaments In Sacramento

DIY ring and coins for gift making (Credit, Valerie Heimerich)

Rings And Things

Making jewelry does not always require extensive experience, numerous supplies or expensive items. As a jewelry enthusiast, Wilson appreciates that craft stores now carry DIY mountings for rings, brooches, earrings and more. When her late mother lost one earring from her favorite pair, Wilson used a wire cutter to remove the post of the remaining one. Using craft glue - inexpensive E-6000 adhesive does very well – she attached the earring to a ring mounting and let it dry. Voila, her mom had a fun cocktail ring. Old watch parts and buttons can be used the same way.

Using coins in your DIY projects can add a personal touch as well, adds Wilson. For example, create jewelry with coins dated for the year the recipient was married or when their children were born. And whether they have traveled the world or just dream of doing so, a ring made with foreign coinage could be the perfect gift.

DIY serving tray (Credit, Valerie Heimerich)

Personalized Serving Ware

An inexpensive serving tray from a craft store or thrift shop can be the base for a memorable gift. Using a thin layer of Mod Podge, a reasonably priced glue and sealant, attach items reflecting the personal taste of the recipient, like wine or beer labels, photographs, ticket stubs, postcards, handwritten notes or maps to the inner base of the tray. Allow to dry, and then apply several light coats of Mod Podge to the entire inner surface, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying another. Repeat the process until the surface is smooth and even. Finally, applying a layer of epoxy glaze, such as Park's brand, seals it all and adds a high gloss finish to the final product. Wilson offers this hint; many wine tasting rooms or breweries offer free labels, which is much easier than trying to remove them from bottles.

Sweet And Savory Treat Basket

Hit the farmers' markets for a special treat – fill a basket or oversized coffee mug with marmalade, lavender, local cheeses, teas, herbs, nuts, figs, jujubes, dried fruits and, depending on the time of year, small plants, fresh apple cider or freshly baked goods. Bear the gift recipient in mind when deciding on items, including their taste buds and whether the items have an appropriate shelf life. Large markets, such as the Sunday certified farmers' market at 8th and W Streets in Sacramento, carry special local treats like garlic almonds, jalapeno pistachios, olive oils, wines and many varieties of real honey in straws or jars.

Related: Ask A Sacramento Expert: Tips On Finding Deals Shopping Online

Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at

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