We could all stand to save some dough over the holidays, and the logical solution for economical gift-giving is to go handmade. Whether you’re a craft queen or an uninspired klutz, skip the toothpick ornaments and try your hand at something your giftee will actually use. Over the next few weeks, local crafters will lead you through DIY projects that are sure to impress your friends and family — and they’ll never know what a cheapskate you are.

To start things off, Allison Nadeau of the Charleston Craft Bee (charlestoncraftbee.com) teaches us how to make custom drinking glasses. Nadeau works full-time as a copy editor and she also owns Ink Meets Paper Press (inkmeetspaperpress.com) with her husband, Daniel.

“This set of custom etched glasses is perfect for newlyweds or the host/hostess,” Nadeau says. “For this tutorial, we chose to put a number on each of the glasses — now no one can mix up their glasses! However, monogram initials also work well.”

Materials Needed

• Glasses

• Print-out of your design. You can download a template here.

• Pencil

• Clear contact paper

• Craft (X-ACTO) knife

• Self-healing mat (or cardboard) cutting surface

• Etching cream (available at most craft stores; Armor Etch is a popular brand)

• Vinyl or latex gloves

• Small paintbrush

• Newspaper (or other material to cover your workspace when you apply the etching cream)

• Running water

NOTE: Etching cream is a harsh chemical. It’s serious stuff. Read the label before beginning this project and keep the etching cream away from kids. Wear gloves and keep your work surface covered.


1. Place your design print-out on the underside of the contact paper. Trace the outline of your printed design onto the front side of the contact paper. Trace one design for each glass and ensure you leave enough space (about 1 inch) around each design.

2. Carefully cut out each design with your craft knife, which will leave you with your custom stencil.

3. Trim the contact paper stencil to fit the glass. Leave at least a 1-inch border around the cutout area.

4. Peel the backing away from the contact paper stencil and apply the sticky side of the contact paper to the glass. You may need to reposition the stencil several times to ensure the design is straight.

5. Press out all bubbles in the contact paper, especially those close to the stencil cutout. Ensure the contact paper is firmly applied to the glass. You don’t want any etching cream to get under the stencil.

6. Wearing gloves and working on a covered surface, apply a thick layer of etching cream to the stencil cutout. Avoid brush strokes. The application should look gloppy but shouldn’t be so thick that it drips down the side.

7. Check the manufacturer’s recommendation for the time to leave the cream on (it’s usually 5 to 10 minutes). For this project, we let the glasses sit for 10 minutes on the covered surface.

8. Ding! Time’s up. Still wearing gloves, thoroughly rinse and rub off etching cream under running water. Don’t leave any trace of etching cream.

9. Peel off the stencil and thoroughly dry each glass. Once the glass is dry, your design will appear.