An Engaging Gift

When two great friends of mine recently got engaged (yay!!), I immediately started pondering what I could give them for engagement gifts that would be fun, personal and affordable.

I remembered the cross-stitched sachet that my sister made for me when I got engaged, and how excited I was to receive my first gift with an “H”, symbolic of what would be my new last name:

An Engaging Gift

Perfect!!  I knew that my friends would be just as excited about their new last names as I was, so personalized initials seemed like the perfect engagement gift.  I whipped up my version of this great gift in an afternoon – here’s how they turned out:

Decoupaged Initials

Too cute, right??  You can make this awesome gift for your friends in no time.  Here’s what you need:

An Engaging Gift

~ cardboard or wooden letters from the craft store

~ Elmer’s glue or Mod Podge

~ Exacto knife or craft knife

~ cutting board or craft mat

~ foam paint brush

~ fun craft paper

~ craft paint

~ spray adhesive (optional)

Once you’ve got all the goodies assembled, roll up your sleeves and get down to business!  Here’s how to make these cute little guys:

1.  Follow the lines.  The first step is to cut the craft paper into the shapes of the letter that you are using.  There are endless ways to go about this, such as tracing the letters with a pencil and then cutting them out with the Exacto knife, but here’s what I did – first, I sprayed the letters with a light coating of spray adhesive so that the craft paper would stick to the letters:

An Engaging Gift

Then I laid the letters face down on the craft paper and cut around the letters with the Exacto knife.  The spray adhesive kept the letters from sliding around so that I could cut the craft paper as perfectly as possible – then I just peeled the craft paper off and cleaned up any ragged or uncut edges of the paper with the Exacto knife.

An Engaging Gift

2.  Paint by numbers (um, I mean, letters). After I finished cutting out the shapes of the letters, I painted the sides and back of the cardboard letters with a foam brush dipped in craft paint.  Go ahead and use complementary colors for the sides and back for a little extra interest – I used brown for the sides and a robin’s egg blue for the back of the “R”.

An Engaging Gift

I found that a couple of coats of paint were necessary to get an even look without any splotches.  Also, it’s helpful to paint the top edges of the letters to cover any “oopsies” just in case your Exacto knife skills aren’t perfect.  And be patient – it takes these suckers awhile to dry!

3.  Flash back to kindergarten.  Now it’s time to bust out the Elmer’s glue.  You can also use Mod Podge, but I like the Elmer’s since it’s so cheap and readily available.  Some people like to add a little water to the Elmer’s glue but I find that watery Elmer’s just makes the paper stretch out into funky shapes – not so great when you’re trying to make letters that actually look like letters.  Just dip your foam brush into the Elmer’s and brush a thin layer of glue over the unpainted top of your cardboard letter – then place the paper letter on top and smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles.  Easy!

4.  Protect and personalize.  I painted a thin coat of water-based, satin-finish polyurethane over my letters to protect them, and then wrote a little message to my friends on the back of each letter with a silver Sharpie.  You could also use some of the leftover paper from your project to make little gift tags for your letters (tied with a fun ribbon, of course), which would be pretty darn cute.

5.  Bask in the glory.  You’ve just made a fun, easy, and completely adorable gift to celebrate your newly-engaged friend.  Trust me, she’ll totally love it.

Decoupaged Initials

How’s that for a fun and personal gift?  And as a bonus, it’s totally affordable – each adorable finished letter cost less than 5 smackers.  It doesn’t get much better than that!  And don’t worry – if you want to do this project but you don’t have any newly-engaged friends to give these cuties to, they would be perfect to spell out a new baby’s name, spelling out “LAUNDRY” in the laundry rooom . . . you get the idea!

What do you think?  Are you ready to bust out the Elmer’s glue?

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  1. christy says:

    I totally LOVE this project! Super cute, looks doable AND affordable. I am sure your friend will absolutely LOVE them! Fantastic idea, Liz!

  2. Meredith says:

    Very cute. Wonderful idea for a gift with a personal touch!

  3. Joan says:

    The letters look fabulous! How clever you are, and to share the idea in enough detail that we can actually do it ourselves! Who wouldn’t love this fox gift???

  4. Nicole says:

    Very neat! I love this idea and will have to keep it in mind…

  5. Tonya says:

    Great idea! I especially like the idea of using the leters around the house – I’m thinking “BATH” or “CLEAN” would be too cute in a guest bathroom… Thanks for the idea!!

    • Liz says:


      I like the way you’re thinking!! In a wet/humid area like a bathroom, I would definitely recommend adding several layers of polyurethane over your letters, just to make sure that your cute craft paper doesn’t eventually peel off of your letters. Happy crafting!!

      ~ Liz

  6. Averill says:

    Great idea! I love the idea of giving a newlywed (or newly engaged) their initial or something monogrammed. I tend to give personalized stationery, but this is definitely much friendlier on the pocketbook!

  7. Liz says:


    Ahh, personalized stationary is fab!! I’m a huge fan of monograms, too, but they make me a little nervous unless I know for sure which initials people are going to be using – I know some people that keep their middle name in lieu of their last name, and I’m one of those people that kept everything and now has 4 initials (I know, of course I had to make it complicated!!). But if you have the monogram nailed down this gift could easily be modified into a monogram, and it would be super cute if you used 2 smaller letters and a larger, middle letter – so many options!

    ~ Liz

  8. Jen L. says:

    Love it! ;)

  9. Kristina says:

    There you go! Did you go back to Hobby Lobby yet?

  10. Liz says:


    Ack, not yet!! But I can hear it calling to me . . . :)

    ~ Liz

  11. lindsay p says:

    LOVE IT! I need to find cardboard letters!

  12. Gina says:

    These are fantastic! I have been looking for over-sized letters everywhere and haven’t seen them yet. Both Wal-Mart and Michael’s out here only have small wooden ones.

  13. Suesan says:

    How cute! I have been wondering what types of letters to use, I never thought to check the cardboard aisle! Too funny, I just bought that polka dot sheet the other day.