The Epic TNP Valentine's Day $10 Gift Challenge

It's a common situation for the common bloke: They forget Valentine's Day 

Three men from The New Paper were set a challenge. With one day to create and make a lovely Valentine's Day gift on a $10 budget. 

Why $10? Well, there is that sentiment about "It's the thought that counts". 

We initially thought this would be a handy guide for men looking to create a last-minute yet heartfelt gift.

Then the results came in.

Romance may not be dead, but with these guys, it certainly isn't well...


There are not a lot of things that you can do during Valentine's Day for $10.

So you have to be creative for your "bae" and use a bit of elbow grease.

I decided some citrus salt might fit the bill.

Before you scoff at the the humble gift of salt, it makes quite a cute gift for the Jamie Oliver-obsessed woman in your life. It's also pretty handy to add some posh artisanal flavour to your food.

Well, those are the reasons I formulated.

Yes, I was going super cheap. A raid on my kitchen revealed a surplus of kitchen salt (though sea salt is meant to be better for this), some limes and oranges (thank you Lunar New Year).

All I needed was a lemon for the zest, and a much needed container. Well how else was I supposed to present my gift? Freeform salt, no matter how tasty, does not conjure thoughts of romance.

A trip to the supermarket found me my vessel - a small plastic container ($2.25) and three lemons ($1.55). For an extra flourish, I added some ribbon from Daiso ($2)

Zest of three limes, one lemon and one Lunar New Year orange were sacrificed for the Valentine's Day gift.

zested the fruit, baked them in oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes to dry them out.

I mixed the zest into five generous tablespoons of salt and... Voila!

My total expenditure was $6.10 but the heart that I put in it was immeasurable.

Or at least that's what I'd tell my intended.

Obviously, presentation is everything.



So I found out last week that love does indeed have a price. $10, to be precise.

Was it possible to make a gift for that amount? Yes. Was it easy? No.

I had one grand plan: Origami.  

It was the only idea that stood out to me - cheap, handmade, creative and most importantly, you won't run the risk of your lover screaming: "Why you never put in any effort!"   . 

And so I ventured to the $2 paradise that is Daiso  for origami paper and a gift box to present my masterpieces in. Oh, and flowers too.     

But as I was searching, something else caught my attention - "handmade" Japanese cut glass. 

Beautiful and intricate, I decided to get two of those as well - all within $10. 

Satisfied, I headed home to piece my gift together . 

Each item (above) costs $2 at Daiso 

A few failed attempts at paper folding later - the origami tutorial on YouTube was easier watched than done - my gift was complete.  

Two glasses in the gift box accompanied by a couple of paper cranes and topped with miniature roses. 

And all within half-an-hour (minus shopping time).

You're welcome.

Voila, the end product!



Ten dollars?  I figured the best way to approach this "assignment" was to get crafty.

I decided to fall back on a nifty little trick my friend Terry had taught me a number of years ago. I decided to fashion a little snow globe from scratch.

My budget shopping trip yielded - a glass bottle, beads, a pack of fabric decorations as well as a vial of silver glitter.

NOT PICTURED: The trouble I would have to go through making this whole thing work later on. Including getting glitter all over the place.

After removing the label from the bottle, I added some glitter and beads.

Then came the tricky part for a Singaporean male not used to the domestic art of sewing.

The idea is to have the heart as the centrepiece, suspended by thread in the middle of the bottle while the beads and glitter swirl around it.

A quick check on the internet to recall how to actually thread a needle and I was off.

Sew, a needle pulling thread...

But my plans soon fell apart. I tried to glue the thread to the underside of the cork but the glue would not stick.

And when I added water to my jar, some of the beads - which were intended to sit at the bottom - floated to the top. Uh oh.

Then the heart was too light, so that floated too.

If that wasn't a large enough  fail, the glue for the heart string (Geddit? Heart string, heartstring? Hahah... Oh, never mind.) dissolved in water.

But in the name of love, I had to strive onwards.

Despite the disaster on my hands (along with a lot of glitter), I had to continue.

So the heart underwent minor surgery with a small incision made to insert a five-cent coin as a weight.

I then tied the heart's string over the top of the stopper and secured it with a staple.

With the bottle topped up with fresh glitter, beads and water, I placed my now heavy heart into the water and secured the stopper.


The finished product. You can even see the silhouette of the coin inside the heart against the light...

To hide the staple, I used one of the ribbons from the fabric decoration pack.

The floating beads even turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it somehow gave the whole thing a sense of balance.

The final damage? A grand total of $8.35.

Here's the proof:

Okay, if you wanna be calculative and include the coin, it's $8.40...

And there you have it - a cutesy Valentine's Day gift that costs under $10 to make.

Now that wasn't too difficult... right?



There's the boys results. But would women actually happily accept them?

We asked five young women in the office to see which of the gifts they would prefer.

Okay, maybe prefer is too generous a term. The gift least likely to cause an immediate  break up.

Linette and Patrizha both grudgingly plumped for Azim's salt, purely on a practical, not aesthetic level. Both thought a glass jar would make it look like less of an afterthought.

After a few umms and ahhs, Angeline and Ashikin went for the sparkles of Greg's heart in a jar - a gift which has a slightly sinister connotation if you think too much about it.

And Heather found Gerard's origami and glass combo to be sufficiently charming.

Our advice: If you are going the homemade route, grab someone who is fluent in arts and crafts to help/do it for you.

Valentine's DayUncategorisedchallengeepicloveFood & Drinkorigami