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DIY Valentine’s Day Gift from Upcycled Trash: A Token Gift

Looking for a cute and sentimental DIY Valentine’s Day Gift?

This tutorial is an example of something you can make as a ‘token’ gift that doesn’t cost anything but shows you took the time to make something for them to show you care.

All of the materials used to make this Valentine’s Day gift are things I would have otherwise recycled or thrown in the bin – so that’s an upcycling win in my books!

The main ingredient? An empty Vanilla Extract Bottle!

I use a lot of vanilla in my baking. In my opinion, it is the secret ingredient to all great cookies and cakes – the secret being you should always use at least 3 times the recommended amount in the recipe!

Anyway, I recently finished a bottle after making some cupcakes for my son’s birthday and I thought – hmm what could I do with that?

I’d seen ‘message in a bottle’ type valentine’s day gifts and I decided to do something similar but without being a straight copy.

Token Valentine’s Day Gift

When I say a ‘token’ valentine’s day gift you could be excused for having some negative feelings about the term.

I don’t mean a token gift in the way that picking up a box of chocolates at the supermarket without much effort is a token gesture with no feeling behind it.

What I mean here is that this message in a bottle style gift isn’t a practical one.

Your recipient can’t wear or use it for anything. It is just a ‘token’ of your love and affection. Something you can physically give them as a manifestation of your feelings.

Materials Needed

DIY valentine's day gift token gift materials
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff
  • Empty Vanilla Extract Bottle
  • Old red & white wrapping paper
  • Thin cardboard packaging
  • Scraps of ribbon or twine
  • Scissors
  • Gift Tag Punch (optional)

Step 1: Prepare your Vanilla Extract Bottle

DIY valentines day gift token gift
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

The first thing I did was remove the label and the little gold ring below the bottle cap – I just snapped it off with my scissors.

If you are having any trouble removing all the residue from your label try my almond oil hack which you can find in this post here.

Step 2: Cut out Tiny Heart Shapes

DIY valentines day gift
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Now the aim of this little token gesture gift is to fill the vanilla bottle with tiny little red and white hearts.

I had a couple of crumpled up pieces of Christmas wrapping paper that I probably couldn’t salvage for re-wrapping. I figured that if I cut them down into tiny heart shapes you wouldn’t be able to recognise the snowflake shapes and they would give me the hit of red and white I was looking for.

In an ideal world, I would have used a heart-shaped hole punch. So if you have one, by all means, use it! I don’t own one so I set to cutting out tiny hearts as best I could with my scissors.

To speed up the process I folded my paper over several times so that I was cutting out multiple layers of hearts at once.

Step 3: Put your Hearts in the Bottle

DIY valentines day gift token gift
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

This step is pretty self-explanatory. Just stuff your tiny hearts into the bottle and when you are happy with how full it is (I did about 3/4 of the way up the fattest part of the bottle), shut the lid!

Step 4: Add a Gift Tag

DIY valentines day gift tag
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

The last thing I did was create a gift tag/message tag using some thin cardboard packaging. Mine was a lavender colour but you could use white or red packaging if you have it or even brown cardboard if you like the crafty brown paper look.

I got this gift tag maker hole punch for Christmas so I was a bit eager to use it for something. If you don’t have one you could cut out your gift tag free hand and use a regular hole punch for the eyelet.

I had saved these scraps of red and white ribbon and twine from gifts I received at Christmas. I used them to make a bow to attach my gift tag.

Regular twine or a piece of white or red ribbon would work equally well. Just use what you have!

The last thing I did was print out a cute message on my printer to attach to the gift tag. If you have good handwriting you could just write it yourself – mine is atrocious so I went this route!

I went with a little Janis Joplin lyric for my message but you could just use more traditional Valentine’s Day messages like ‘Be My Valentine’ or ‘Will you be mine?’ if you prefer.

Step 5: Give your DIY Valentine’s Day Gift to your Sweetheart!

DIY valentine's Day gift
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

If you liked this tutorial pin it to your DIY Valentine’s Day Gift or Upcycling Board!

handmade valentines day gift
DIY valentine's Day gift

DIY Valentine's Day Gift

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Make a cute 'token' gesture Valentine's Day Gift from things you would normally throw away!


  • Empty Vanilla Extract Bottle
  • Crumpled Red & White Wrapping Paper
  • Thin Cardboard Packaging
  • Scraps of Ribbon or Twine



  1. Remove the label from your bottle
  2. Cut out tiny hearts from your wrapping paper
  3. Put hearts in your bottle
  4. Make a gift tag from your cardboard packaging
  5. Use ribbon or twine to attach your gift tag
  6. Add a message to your tag.
  7. Give your DIY Homemade Valentine to your Sweetheart!

If you are looking for more DIY gifts to try check out these posts:

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Monday 20th of January 2020

This is adorable!! What a great way to give a sweet gift without spending a dime.

Kristen Hubert

Monday 20th of January 2020

Thanks! Yes, you don’t always have to make the big gestures!

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