Most moms have simple expectations when it comes to Mother's Day presents. All we really want is a big "thanks for everything you do" and a homemade token of appreciation.
This year, you can really "wow" the moms in your life by creating personalized gifts they can put to good use each and every day. Invest in just a few materials and make personalized coffee or tea mugs. The lucky recipients will think of you each morning as they sip from their one-of-a-kind mug.
Begin by purchasing some white porcelain mugs or coffee cups. Try an inexpensive source like IKEA or Cost Plus World Market to find mugs that are perfect for this project. Visit an art supply store such a Blick Art Supplies to find porcelain pens. Pick up pens in a variety of colors.
Gather your artists together and get to work! This project can be very free-form or more structured. On the one hand, you can encourage the kids to create original designs right on the surface of the mug. Be sure to press the tip of the pens into test paper a few times to get the ink flowing before you begin. If you make a mistake, don't worry. You can rub the pen off before it dries and start all over again. Be sure to have the artists sign their work and indicate the date and occasion.
If you desire a more "polished" look, you can apply a pre-printed template or design to the mug. Find an image you'd like to apply to the mug and print it in black and white. Using a piece of transfer paper (available at craft stores), you literally can transfer the design to the mug and then use the porcelain pens to trace over it to make it permanent. This works well for simple images such as an initial, monogram or simple saying.
Place a piece of transfer paper bottom side down against the mug and place the design on top. Tape the paper in place. Use a ballpoint pen to trace over each element of the design (press hard!). Remove all of the paper, and a white imprint will remain on the mug. Use the imprint as a guide as you trace over it with porcelain pens.
Once you are happy with your design, place the mug on a baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes to make the porcelain pen writing dishwasher safe (this is an adults-only job, of course). Note that although the porcelain pens purport to be dishwasher safe, advise your gift recipients to hand wash these precious items just to be on the safe side.
Caitlin Murray Giles is a full-time mother of three and part-time freelance writer living in Wicker Park.
See more of Caitlin's stories here.