How to Make a Great (Cheap) Valentine’s Day Gift

Deciding on a good Valentine’s Day gift for your partner can be tough. It may be that you want to avoid those cheesy cards and lacy hearts in Walgreens, it may be that you don’t have the money to spend on something extravagant or it may be that you’ve just started dating and you aren’t sure if a gift is even appropriate. But whatever the problem, this project can solve it.

Oh yeah, and the gift is a collage frame.

This personalized collage frame (photo to come soon) is the first gift I ever gave my boyfriend. (He’s still here two years later if that tells you anything). I had the misfortune of starting a relationship with him a few months before the holiday season. So feeling like I had to do something for Hanukkah, I decided to decorate a frame. It was easy, cheap and somewhat quick. And it also doubles as a great Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Anniversary or Guy Fawkes Day gift.

The project is designed for you to make it your own, but here are the basics.

How to Make a Collage Frame:

1. Buy a plain, solid colored frame (size is up to you) with a smooth surface. I bought a solid black 4 x 6 frame on sale at Macys and if I remember correctly it was well under $10.

2. Grab a stack of magazines and start rummaging. This step will take up the most time. Cut out images, designs and phrases that suit the person you are giving the gift to. Do not cut images and phrases right up to the word or picture. Make sure you leave a sufficient border or area around your cut-outs, so that you have extra to work with when fitting the collage together.

3. Arrange your pictures/words around the frame to get an idea of how they will fit together. It’s a good idea to cut out a few extra pieces of a color you like or a background pattern, to fill in any oddly shaped spaces as you go.

4. Glue your pieces around the frame as desired.

5. To add a glossy shine and to make sure my collage stayed together, I borrowed my (art major) roommate’s acrylic medium. I brushed it over the top of the collage and let it dry. There are many art glazes you could use here, this just happened to be what I had.

6. After the frame dries completely, add your photo. As a personal touch, I wrote a message on the back of the photo.

7. Give to your honey. Watch as their face lights up but his eyes say, “Wow that’s really sweet and personal and all I got you was this $5.99 bouquet of Tulips”


  1. Dansk says

    Fill a jar with “love notes” (e.g. I love you, remember that time when…) and/or “love gifts” (e.g. massage, complete control of remote, favorite homemade dinner) or a mix of both and/or inexpensive gift cards or coffee/ea/donuts whatever. Paste on one or many cut outs, e.g. hearts, parts of mag pictures, his/her name. Use a red ribbon to tie under the lid.

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