With a little whimsy, imagination, and an assortment of skills and resources on hand, creating a special Valentine gift is easy. And what could be more heartfelt than fashioning a handmade gift or offering a special service? Adapt available materials to your love’s interests and you can express your affection on the cheap. In other words, use what you have.

Got You Covered
Create an attractive journal or sketchpad by covering a writing tablet with leftover fabric or wrapping paper.

Open the tablet and place the cover side down on top of the fabric or paper. Cut out a rectangle adding 2 inches on each side. Fold the extra 2 inches over the edge of the tablet cover and use a hot glue gun to attach the fabric or paper to the tablet’s inside cover.

Soaking in Luxury

An easy recipe for bath salts (Epsom salts and perfume or essential oil), plus a recycled bottle and some ribbon make a sweet-smelling gift.

Put two cups of Epsom salts in a gallon zipper plastic bag. Optionally, add a few tablespoons of sea salt, baking soda and/or oatmeal. Add a few drops of food coloring and essential oil or perfume. Zipper the bag and shake. Spread salt on wax paper-covered cookie sheet. Allow it to dry for about six hours before bottling to keep it from sticking together. Recycled olive oil, vinegar, or even some water bottles have unique shapes and make charming containers for the salts.

Redeem This

Coupons for special services let you tailor your gift to the recipient. With a computer and a few graphics, create an offer of breakfast in bed or a candle-lit dinner.

Of course, in this electronic age, screen savers, computer wallpapers, and e-cards are also no-cost options for your sweetheart. Start with a search engine to locate other options for your Valentine.

Tie One On

Give a castoff silk tie a new purpose. This one is reincarnated as an electronics pouch. Transform a skinnier tie into a case for eyeglasses.

Measure the electronic device against the tie. The tie should be about twice the length of the device. Add about 2 inches to allow for hemming after cutting the tie, and for the ends to meet to snap over the device. Remove the thread “tack” that holds the back of the tie to the front, cut to the desired length, measuring from the wide end. Hem the cut edge. Fold the tie to hold the device; tack the ends in place. Sew a snap at the tie’s point and on the edge to close the pouch.

Tackle This

Repurposed fishing swivels and leftover assorted beads create a unique bracelet. Paper beads (the ultimate in magazine recycling), surplus beads from past projects, and a little bit of elastic thread make colorful bracelets.

For a metal bracelet, separate the fishing swivels from the snaps with a pliers. The swivels are joined to leftover beads and each other with jump rings.

Paper beads are easily made by rolling triangular pieces of paper, (about 1” wide at the top, and approximately 4” long) around a toothpick and fastening the pointed end of the triangle with glue stick. Once the beads dry, coat them with a mixture of one part white glue to two parts water, and let them dry again. String on elastic thread.

Positive Packaging

Decorated recycled food canisters can make homemade edible goodies special. Use tacky or household white glue to adorn empty coffee cans, nut cans, or potato chip canisters with wrapping paper bits, leftover ribbon strands, and sundry beads.