Sharpie mugs, $20 Christmas gifts, and the elephant in the room

*This post was sponsored by the BHG Live Better Network. All opinions are 100% my own.

If you’ve ever used pinterest then chances are you’ve seen these “sharpie mugs“. The idea is that you buy a cheap plain mug, personalize it with a sharpie, and voila! Crazy easy personalized coffee cups. Now, I’ve been DIYing for a while now and I can tell you one thing for sure…if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. (You can actually apply that to life in general, not just DIY.) I mean, sharpies are great and all, but they’re not magic. They may be nearly impossible to get off a couch, wall, or clothing, but there is no way you can write on a glazed mug with one and expect to stay put, even when you wash it. NO WAY.

So this month the Better Homes and Gardens challenge was to put together some gift ideas for under $20. Now, you can put together a decent gift for under twenty bucks, but it’s not going to be mind-blowing or anything. Unless, of course, something sentimental or homemade is included. Enter the sharpie mug.

I spent some time reading through websites that had tried and failed at this in an attempt to come up with a method that actually worked. I found a few that had success stories and combined them all the make a mug that is indestructible.

First I bought some plain white coffee mugs for $3.88 a piece…

plain white coffee mugs

and an OIL BASED sharpie paint pen. The oil based part is key here. You can also use a DecoArt glass marker or Pebeo porcelain pen, but the Sharpie was easy find and cheap, so that’s what I went with.

oil based gold sharpie

Then I cleaned the cups with alcohol, taped off the top (because I didn’t want any marker where you mouth touches) and added some scrapbooking letters.

sharpie mug prep

Then I let the kids go to town and make mugs for each of their teachers.

sharpie mugs as teacher gifts

Ack, they’re just so cute, right? Levi is grinning away while sporting some sweet bed head, and Elijah is over there acting like he is painting the Mona Lisa.

how to make personalized coffee cups

After they were finished I peeled off the scrapbook letters with a pair of tweezers let them dry for a day before baking. Also, I learned a little too late that if you have any mess ups you can fix them with some rubbing alcohol and q-tips before they dry. We definitely has some bleeding under the letters. Oh well, it adds to the “made by a preschooler” effect, which is an integral part of this gift.

Next I baked the mugs by putting them in a COLD oven, setting it to 400 for an hour, then letting them cool completely before taking them out. This worked great for setting them…except that it turned the paint from a beautiful gold to a brownish bronze color. Bummer.

baking sharpie mugs

And then, since I was combining ALL the things that people said had worked, I taped them off again and sprayed the painted part with clear sealer.

clear coat on sharpie mugs

BAM…personalized, indestructible mugs for the kids teachers.

How to sucessfully make a personalized sharpie mug

I even scrubbed them before taking that pictures (by hand) and noting budged. Which is good, because I would have pretty disappointed if it had.

To finish the gifts I headed off the Walmart and bought the things I would like to get as a gift. I have pretty great taste so it seems like no fail method of Christmas shopping.

Beter Homes & Gardens at Wamart

Obviously I love whites and neutrals, blankets, and things that smell like lemon.

So here are a few personalized gift ideas that are all under $20…

Personalized gifts under $20

1. wax warmer – $10.00, wax scents – $2.00 (x2), Coffee mug – $3.88 Total – $17.88

2. throw -$12.88, mug – $3.88 Total – $16.76

3. blanket – $16.96, mug – $3.88 Total – $20.84 (whoops!)

4. picture frame – $9.96, candle – $3.97,  mug – $3.88 Total – $17.81


I can’t even believe I made it through that post without mentioning the elephant in the room. It’s such a huge elephant I can barely see to type around it. So here we go, let’s just get it out in the open.

Today is my 30th birthday.

30. 30! I’m not quite sure when that happened, but here I am…30. I was tempted to be bummed about it for a while, but then I realized that I’ve been acting like I’m in my 30’s for about a decade now. I’m been married for over ten years, have (nearly) three children, joyfully drive a nerdy minivan, and the thought of going out past about 8pm exhausts me. I was meant to be in my 30’s.

So in celebration of my birthday (that’s not really the reason, but let’s pretend) I’m giving away a $100 Walmart gift card! Use the rafflecopter below to enter. (Card will be shipped in January)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For even more inspiration follow Better Homes and Gardens at Walmart on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.Better-Homes-Gardens-Network

*This post was sponsored by the BHG Live Better Network. All opinions are 100% my own.

Teacher gift for under $20


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  1. Happiest Happy Birthday! I’m 33. 30 hit me harder than I expected, but my 30s have been great.

  2. happy dirty 30 Ashley!! :) It’s not as painful as it sounds. :) Thanks for the giveaway!! I can tell you for a fact that if I win I will absolutely be waiting till after the holidays are over to use it – I went to WalMart earlier today to get bread and milk and I kid you not, from parking my car (in the very last spot in the very last row) to getting back to it, it took me an hour and a half because it was so busy. An hour and a half. FOR BREAD AND MILK. Lesson learned.

  3. Jan Elizabeth says:

    Happy birthday, bloggy friend! :) You are so very young. I am 48 with a stepdaughter who just turned 30. It beats the alternative, that’s what I say!

    Those sharpie mugs are super cute! Your sons’ teachers are lucky with those lovely gift collections. I’ve been looking for ideas for preschoolers to make for gifts this year. This is the one I finally chose:


  4. Happy Birthday! 30 is a big one. You probably won’t have any problem with 40. [50 just about killed me. I did survive it though.]
    Robin recently posted..Vacuuming the RainMy Profile

  5. Happy Birthday. As someone who is 64, let me tell you it only gets better.

  6. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I love your posts and your wonderfully sweet sense of humor. Thank you for always brightening my day! :)

  7. Happy birthday :)

  8. Happy 30th Birthday! I’m getting close to twice that young girl! 30 bothered me the most until this one
    coming up. I love your cup ideas and the fact most of the photos said Ms. Deb made me smile more!
    You are so talented!

  9. Happy birthday sweet girl! Trust me, 30 isn’t the end . . .lol, I am coming close to 50 and I wouldn’t go back. Have a wonderful birthday and thanks for sharing the way to do sharpie mugs that actually works!

  10. Darla Bunyan says:

    Thanks so very much for the chance at such an awesome giveaway

  11. Ellie a.k.a :) says:

    Happy 30th YOUNGSTER!! from someone who will be 67…yikes!!…next month! And yes I agree, it only gets better. Who said we can’t be young and fun at any age!! My granddaughter made mugs (dollar store!) for her M&P for Christmas when she was 4. I just let her do her own thing and they turned out great! We used the porcelain pen and just followed the instructions on it. Might be a thought for her Gr. 1 teacher. Thanks for the reminder!

  12. Happy Birthday!

  13. Great idea with the mugs!

  14. Happy 30th Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Have a wonderful day, your 30’s are awesome and empowering. Enjoy!
    Wishing you love and happiness from Sydney
    Kaz x

  15. Happy Birthday Ashley! Oh to be in my 30’s again-it was my best decade and I hope it will be yours.(or your 40’s or 50″s)No thoughts on the 60’s yet as I am giving that decade the stink eye.

  16. Happy Birthday to you Ashley!!

  17. Happy Birthday! And thank you for a tutorial that produces a product that will hold up after time. I hope to make a set of mugs for my husband for Christmas. :)
    Karen H. recently posted..10 Years!My Profile

  18. Happy 30th!! Always try to remember that it’s only a number… Life is a continuum of moments and memories, focus on the ones that make you happy! And thanks for all the great information about paper bag flooring!

  19. Happy birthday, Ashley!!
    God bless you with a wonderful year.
    I turned 50 last month, I thought about it all year and dreaded it.
    Then it happened- the bark was worse than the bite.
    Have a wonderful Christmas.

  20. How cool is it that you turned 30 on 12-13-14? Soooo cool!

  21. It cut off the last part of my post…. I said The mug thing is awesome!

  22. Love the mug idea!! I tried to do the painted handprints on plates thing but it didn’t last. I might try the sharpie idea!
    Carly Nalley recently posted..Resolved.My Profile

  23. I love how this project turned out. Lovely!
    vanessa recently posted..The Best DIY/Desgin Post Of 2014My Profile

  24. This is great! I have done a few “sharpie” projects and always notice that it scrubs off right away – a great idea but not really functional! Thanks for the tips, and this was such a cute way to get the kids involved too making elegant looking gifts. XOXO
    Sam recently posted..Welcome!My Profile


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