Gift Ideas From Scratch - Innovative Gifts You Can Make For Under 5.00 (for any occasion)

by Jerrico_Usher

Some of the best gifts are ones that blend some icons of our past or present with innovative craft creations. Cereal boxes are a great notebook idea!

I was scouring the web for ideas for last Christmas and came across some great crafts that are also "green" and recycled goods. One of my extended family members loves to create creative gifts to give us and this year we wanted to make something cleaver to see if we could beat her out. The first idea in the following article blew my mind. Who'd of thought you could use old cereal boxes, popcorn (microwave) boxes, and any boxes at all that contain the iconic branding of our youth to present day to make cool stuff?

From notebooks to creative birthday bags, there are some great ideas circulating. I wanted to share one I especially liked and that did surprise my soon to be sister-in-law. Me and Michelle thought this was so cool we started to scour antique shops for other unique things to use to create gifts.

In this article I'll share two of my favorites.

Kid Tested Mother Approved!
Kid Tested Mother Approved!

Making A Cereal Box Cover/Back Into A Paper Spiral Notebook!

For this one, there are only a few steps:

  • Grab some really cool looking cereal boxes (yours or someone you know that has them)
  • Cut the front and back of the boxes out and cut them into an 8 1/2 x 11 inch rectangle (you can use one of those paper binders without binding to get the size right) Cut the cover and back so it's about half an inch bigger than the paper you will include between them and account for the binding!)
  • Pick your paper, this can be anything that will fit between the two cereal box cover/backing
  • Take everything down to a copy store (i.e. Kinkos) and for 5.00 or so you can have them add the binding (makes it pimptastically retail looking and clean cut).
  • Add your own personal touches (before or after binding).
Cool Book


You can do all kinds of things with this including:

  • If you paint pictures on standard sized paper (like typing paper sized) or can cut it to the right size (kinkos has those school versions of paper cutters just create the guiding lines and cut them all at once there when your "artwork" is complete) you can use this to create a killer art portfolio to give away as a gift or just to show people your work in an innovative and easy to create notebook!
  • You can add pre-typed pages you print out i.e. a book you write or anything you want
  • I would grab a bunch of cereal boxes of the same brand/type of cereal and use one for the cover but the others you cut out the characters in the image and affix them to the cover that's uncut. This one small layer will render you a 3D cover for your book. Just glue the cutouts directly over the characters on the cover and your done!
  • You can also create picture books for your kids by cutting out characters from cereal boxes or any other iconic box (like fruit by the foot boxes, etc...) and create scrapbook stories on the internal pages! You can leave room for your kids to fill in what they say! Just draw talk bubbles and the like. You can find stickers like this at the craft stores as well.
  • You can do any of the above (or your own ideas) then laminate the cover and back cover to protect your book from rain, spills etc... before binding- although the authenticity is better (for 2D versions just the cover/back no 3D) left not laminated for effect. The 3D effect is cool either way ...
  • You can do this also with smaller boxes like popcorn boxes etc for smaller more personal sized notebooks (see picture above) - these cool and very recognizable boxes come in all shapes and sizes (including cereal that comes in those cool one bowl sizes!). We thought about creating products from these ideas and more to create an eBay shop with cool iconic concepts... you may want to try that too! People love stuff like this!

Book Safe You Make From The Dollar Tree's Hard Cover Books!

Secret Safe Book

The Innovative Gift Box With Secret Compartments (and one very secret one)

This idea may be already out there but I came up with it (the middle "hidden" safe part- Nicole gave me the rest of the idea) on my own. It's a twist on the old Book Safe concept. Nicole (my girlfriends sister) gave me the idea for using multiple books to really hide something in a sort of false bottom- only false middle!

Nicole is a creative type and makes all kinds of cool artwork from ordinary things, some paint and even a cutter. She's been on this really cool project (also not new) of going to the dollar tree to buy up any cool thick books that are hard cover with a dust jacket. They have plenty.

Removing the dust jacket the books cover beneath is the main (other than thickness of the book itself) event. Gold leafed titles or just cool book names (they got a bunch of these with intriguing names!) and she's all set. 4.00 and 4 books later (no tax here in Oregon) and she takes these home to create a hidden treasure book (old school concept pictured above).

You just leave a border, cut out the internal guts of the book and use rubber cement/glue to bind the insides of the hidden safe infrastructure this creates. For some of these she actually glues the books themselves together into sets and cuts all the way through the first book and into the next one to create a nice well (deep safe). This can be useful to save the second books cover cut out as you can put it in for a false bottom effect.

You can also cut this slightly bigger than the hole in the first book (before gluing the books together) to create a truly hidden secret safe- you hide something cool in there and only cut through to the middle of the book leaving the back of this book uncut. You then replace the books cover (cutting into the second book you also leave a border to glue the cover back to "seal it" permanently (for now).

using 3 books for this total, you glue another book on the back end of the middle book and cut through to half to 3/4ths of the way in (and don't cut through to the middle book).

What the person getting this "gift" will think is that they are getting a 3 book set with two of the books having a secret compartment with their actual gift in either side (use this as a new type of Christmas gift "box" and wrap it for an intriguing gift).

You tell them after they open it up that both of the outside books have a gift in them, the middle book is just "for show". You hide something valuable in that middle book and secure it so it won't move around (cologne, money, etc... I prefer money i.e. a gift card visa works great or folding money is cool too).

You can give this gift and make them think they figured it out completely but later, say on their birthday, you can let them in on the final hidden compartment! Make sure whatever you put in there is wrapped up in something that will stop it from moving around! It's a great way to give a "gift that keeps on giving"!

You may want to glue a bunch of pages between the end of each sides hole/well and the backing (entry into the very center) to throw them off.

The ways you can get cleaver with this is endless. I had the notion to build one of these for my kids (when I have them) and give it to them as a "cash" gift. Putting money in it but hiding money in the middle too so when they one day need more money but spent what they got, I can point them to the new found wealth they had all along and didn't know about it!

Good Luck!

Find some collector cereal boxes on eBay to use!

Previous Comments


Ms Chievous Level 1 Commenter 6 months ago
Clever ideas!

prairieprincess Level 7 Commenter 6 months ago
Hey, these are a couple of creative ideas! I like the idea of a book safe: it sounds very "Nancy Drew" but it does make sense to hide something in a book and I don't think many people would think of looking there. Voted up, useful and awesome!

Jerrico Usher Hub Author 6 months ago

Cloverleaf Level 7 Commenter 6 months ago
Great ideas, well done!

Updated: 04/23/2012, Jerrico_Usher
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Jerrico_Usher on 04/25/2012

thanks @Terrilorah, and you can do it with anything they love, fruit by the foot boxes, cereal boxes (bigger notebooks), and more. I saw some shopping bags at a store in Lincoln City that were made from cloth, cereal boxes, bags that used to be chips cleaned out and padded inside with cloth (and either stapled or sewn in or even glued in)- it's a great way to recycle and create something really cool! Glad you liked it.

terrilorah on 04/25/2012

What a cool idea for the spiral notebooks. My grand daughter would love this!

Jerrico_Usher on 04/24/2012

yea definately, Michelle is still working on hers, I gave her one of my old large books to create one, it's very time consuming :) but fun.

humma on 04/23/2012

I really like the book safe idea and, of course, the hand made gifts. It is always a delight to get one as you know someone really put much thought and time into it.

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