My DIY Twitter Secret Santa Gift

For the 3rd year in a row, I participated in Desiree’s Twitter Secret Santa (TSS) event.  This year, I had the pleasure of being the Secret Santa for one Mr. Christopher Kolk.  I must have some pretty strong intuition because back at the end of July, I was perusing Etsy while Jay was away in Austin, TX and saw a picture frame that I thought would be perfect for him.  I thought to myself, “How nice would it be to get Kolkie for TSS and get him this frame with a picture of him running his first half-marathon in it?”  I saved it to my favorites and then pretty much forgot about it until names were assigned and I saw my 4-month-old premonition come to pass.  I realized once I started thinking about it that there was a possible snag.  That frame needs a landscape-style picture.  I went online to MarathonFoto.com to look up photos from Kolkie’s first marathon to see if any of them would fit in it.  Everything on there was portrait-style.  “No worries,” I said to myself.  “I’ll just order one of these and find a similar frame.”

It was then that I clicked on “Buy” and realized how ridiculously f*cking overpriced MarathonFoto.com is.  If I wasn’t doing this as a gift and had no other photo options that fit with my vision, I would never have bought from there.  The single digital download price is $30!  I’m pretty sure they’re cheaper at Disney World.  TSS has a rule that gifts must be within $5-25, so that was already over budget.

I must admit that I was a bit deflated.  I looked around a little bit more and found the option for two printed 4×6 photos that was only $14.95.  I could work with that.  Then I had an idea.  Since I was just beginning my new DIY phase, I decided that I was just going to make my own picture frame for much cheaper than anywhere else I could find it.  And thus, a new craft project was born.

I was super excited to get started on this.  I looked around Pinterest to see if there were any ideas that I could build off of and emailed a few links to myself [1, 2, 3], but never ended up referring back to them at all.  I wasn’t entirely sure what my vision for the final product would be, but figured that I’d figure it out along the way.  And figure it out I did.  I found a great frame at none other than Marshalls for $3.99.  I had wandered in there with the “just in case” attitude, but I was fairly certain that I’d end up getting the frame from Michael’s.  From there, I checked in Wal-Mart to see if buying craft paint and a brush would be cheaper there than at Michael’s and found a big pack of thin brushes for $1.97 and picked out two different paint colors for$0.57.  I was on a roll.  I hit up Michael’s and decided to buy scrapbooking stickers to see if I could use them as little decals for decorations.  I found a pack called “Marathon Runner” and picked it up.  The woman at the register gave me a coupon for 30% off, which brought the cost down to under $3.  So far, I doing well on the money front, with all my craft supplies and frame costing under $10.  The picture itself brought my total up to $25, though it ended up being a little bit more once you factor the f*cking absurd price it was to ship .02 ounces of photo paper.  A learning curve to note in the future: Pick a picture that you have access to print out yourself for $0.75, haha.  The actual gift and materials, however, were right at $25.

So enough of the boring prose and onto the pictures.  Here’s what I did.

My indulgent “Before” picture.  I didn’t end up using that black paint, but bought it just in case I needed a third color.

I laid out all of the stickers first to see if I liked where they were placed and then painted the “13.1” onto the bottom of the frame.

After solidifying my sticker choices, I showed it to Jay.  He thought that perhaps it needed something a little bit extra as far as text went.  I told him that I was considering either a sticker I hadn’t used yet to go on the bottom of the frame or else writing the date in.  I have shaky, undelicate hands, so I was worried that I’d mess up if I wrote anything else, but luckily, the date was “11.19.11” so all I really had to worry about was making straight lines and a nine.  The funny thing about this picture is that Jay took it of me and I had absolutely no idea he was taking it until hours later.

There was one thing that I didn’t take into account when I bought the frame: whether or not it would stand up both portrait and landscape style.  It only stood up portrait style!  So here’s my confession that I feel bad about: I ended up going to TJ Maxx and buying a frame of the same brand and switching the backs out.  It stands up a wee bit straighter than your average picture frame, BUT that’s because it’s symbolizing how much of a go-getter that Kolkie is!  Plus, it can be hung on a wall if the over-erectness gets to be annoying.  And there’s always the “lean it against a wall” option too, lol.  That was another learning curve for me that I know for the future.

Here’s the finished product.  Tadaaaaaa!

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