You know those gift suggestion lists for “the person who already has everything”? Somehow I feel like parents always seem to fit that category, and sadly, the aforementioned suggestion lists never seem to help. Fortunately, this year, my parents had both made specific requests (Mom wanted a duster like mine, and we’ve gotten Dad into Stargate SG1), but the perfect Christmas gift for Jordan’s parents was eluding us. Then I remembered a blog post I’d read on A Beautiful Mess and mentioned the idea to Jordan. He loved it (and thought they would too), so this is what we did.
How to Make Personalized Coffee Mugs
Step 1: Find the mugs
We searched high and low for the perfect mugs. We wanted white ceramic in a non-ornate style. Hobby Lobby had some in the style we wanted, but they were *huge*–as in, bowl sized. Target had some with ridges, which make for a poor writing surface, and they also had some that were rather fancy–scalloped handles and so on. Target also had one that came with… a sweater (say what?). The sweater could be easily removed, and the mug was otherwise perfect, but there was only one left. We finally settled on a pair that was painted inside, but the outside was perfect.
Obviously this technique doesn’t have to be limited to mugs if, say, you wanted to decorate some plates or something else instead.
Step 2: Buy ceramic markers
I cannot emphasize this point enough. You need dishwasher-safe markers. No other kind will do. These may be marked as glass, ceramic, or porcelain markers, but I believe they should all work the same way. Hobby Lobby didn’t have any, and when I asked a store employee, she recommended oil-based Sharpies. So we bought a red and a black oil-Sharpie, and after painting on our design and letting it set for at least 48 hours, I took a wet washcloth to it (no soap) to wipe off extraneous pencil marks, and the marker started to flake. So we had to go to Michaels to get the right markers.
Step 3: Plan out your design
I drew the design on a piece of paper, then used a pencil to initially sketch it onto the mugs. I finished by going over the pencil with the ceramic marker. You could freehand the whole thing if you have confidence in your artistic abilities; I read somewhere that you can clean up mistakes if you keep a damp rag close by to take care of them quickly. I actually wish I’d just freehanded it because I ended up with some weird pencil flaking under the paint.
You’ll also notice in the picture below that we made one of the mugs left-handed. That’s the beautiful thing about decorating the mugs yourself–you can make them exactly tailored to your recipient!
Step 4: Let the design cure
Depending on the markers you buy, the instructions may differ. The markers we bought required at least 8 hours at room temperature, then baking for 40 minutes in a 375-degree oven, after heating up the oven from room temperature *with the mugs inside.*
Step 5: Fill up your gift basket
Use your imagination! We went simple with a couple bags of ground coffee and hot chocolate packets and put the whole thing into a pretty Christmas box. I don’t have a picture of the whole basket (oops!), but here’s how the mugs turned out. (This is with the oil-based Sharpies, but they were much the same with the ceramic markers.)
I’d love to hear what gifts you made this Christmas!