10 great DIY Valentine’s gifts

Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 6:16 AM

It’s easy to head to the store on Valentine’s Day and pick up a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers, but it may not be so easy on your wallet.

According to the National Retail Federation consumers are expected to spend a record $19.6 billion on Valentine’s Day this year! Even so, there are plenty of ways to have a fun, memorable and inexpensive Valentine’s Day. One great way is to make your gifts by hand. Not only are these gifts cheaper, they’re also thoughtful and just as fun to make as they are to give!

RELATED: 14 ways to save on Valentine’s Day

Heartwarming handmade Valentine’s Day gifts

Handmade cards

Cards are one of the most essential Valentine’s Day gifts. You could pick one up at Dollar Tree or you could get even more creative and make one of your own! You can find supplies like cardstock, beads, watercolor paint and glue at stores such as Walmart and Dollar General for under $10. If you can’t think of what to write on the card, don’t worry. There are tons of Valentine’s Day poems to choose from here.

Succulent box

Skip the chocolates this Valentine’s Day and make your sweetie a box of succulents. Not only is this gift unique, but it also lasts for years to come. Succulents are fairly easy to take care of and require little watering, especially in the colder months. You can buy a box of 10 succulent cuttings on Amazon for just $15.32.

To dress up your gift, add decorative accent pebbles. You can find them at Dollar Tree for just $1! You can also buy just one succulent plant and decorate it like this plant from Pinterest.

DIY etched glasses

This project may look overwhelming, but it’s actually really easy. All you need is a glass, a stencil, a paint brush and glass etching cream. This cream is available at Walmart for just $8! It’s also available at most craft stores. You can use a glass you already have at home or grab a new one at Dollar Tree. Stencils are occasionally available at Dollar Tree as well. If they aren’t available at your local Dollar Tree, you can find them at Walmart for just $2.47 or you can create one of your own using tape.

Make your own chocolates

If you like to cook, you might want to try making your own chocolates for Valentine’s Day. The recipe above only requires a few ingredients, plus it tastes so much better than store-bought chocolate! Just remember to work slowly and use low to medium heat.

These chocolate truffles are traditionally made with chocolate sprinkles. However, you can add a little Valentine’s Day flare by using pink, red and white sprinkles. Mini cupcake liners are available at Walmart for under $2.

Heart-shaped bird feeder

If your significant other is the outdoorsy type, you’ll want to check out this DIY bird feeder. You only need five ingredients to make them and you can attach cute personalized tags to each one. This is also a great gift to make with your kids.

DIY movie night

Going out on Valentine’s Day can be expensive, not to mention hectic. Avoid the crowds and save money this Valentine’s Day by having a movie night at home. Just grab some blankets, popcorn and even some ice cream and you’re good to go. Redbox often has coupons for free movie rentals to save money on your movie pick.

“Places we’ve been together” gift

This sweet gift is thoughtful and meaningful. Not to mention it’s also inexpensive to make! Simply grab some mod podge, scissors and some mat board and you’re ready to go. You can use Google maps and your home printer to print your locations or you can buy a book of maps from your local thrift store or bookstore. Make your heart stencil by printing out a picture of any heart you like on thick mat board, cutting it out and tracing around it on your map. You can use the location where you and your sweetheart first met or any other location that holds memories.

DIY bath bombs

Spa days may be great but they’re definitely not great for your budget. The good news is you can enjoy a spa day at home for a fraction of the price with these homemade bath bombs. These particular bath bombs use rose petals and eucalyptus oil. However, you can choose any essential oil you like. You may already have most of these ingredients on hand with the exception of citric acid, which can be found at Walmart for just $3.

Valentine candy box

What could be sweeter than a fully customized box of your beau’s favorite candy? You can easily create this sweets-filled box with a quick trip to your local dollar store. You can buy a brand new gift box or use a shoe box you already have at home. Get creative by decorating the outside with a Valentine’s Day theme then fill it up with all the sweets!

If you want to go the extra mile, you can make one of these Valentine candy bouquets. To save even more, you can purchase your candies the day after Valentine’s Day when they go on sale. Just make sure you won’t hurt anyone’s feelings by celebrating the day after the big day.

Valentine’s Day scratch off

This is another unique yet easy to make Valentine’s Day gift. You can create your own template or just print the one from the pin above. Fill each heart with why you love your special someone. You can do this on your computer in the template or simply write them out by hand. Next, create a mixture of two parts acrylic paint and one part dish soap. Paint this mixture over the hearts, let it dry and there you have it!

These 10 projects are just a few of the many cost-efficient DIY Valentine’s Day gift ideas out there. If these gifts don’t suit your fancy, a quick search on Pinterest should give you plenty more ideas to choose from.

And if you’ve decided that getting crafty this Valentine’s Day is just too much, check out these 20 great Valentine’s Day gift ideas under $20.

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Decadent gift ideas from one of the best places for chocolate in the world

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 3:15 PM

The Salted butter caramels are one of Madame Delluc's best sellers. Customize your box at the counter. (Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen)
The Salted butter caramels are one of Madame Delluc's best sellers. Customize your box at the counter. (Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen)

Since opening just a few years ago in a small storefront in the Shops of Oakwood, Madame Delluc Artisan Chocolatier shop has received quite a bit of national attention.  

In 2016 Conde Nast hailed it as one of the “Best Chocolates in the World.” 

 In 2017 CNN named the company one of the “15 Happiest Places in the World.”  

Here are 10 reasons to visit if you haven’t been before, and re-visit if you have.  

>> Last-minute Valentine’s Day gift ideas

Chocolates from Madame Delluc's in Oakwood. CONTRIBUTED

1) New product. They just got in their new handmade chocolates for Valentine’s Day direct from Brussels, Belgium (see Nos. 2-8). These sugary, savory wonders are intoxicatingly delicious and beautiful to behold.  

Chocolates from Madame Delluc's in Oakwood. CONTRIBUTED

2) Amour (“Love”) dark chocolate shell filled with a violet ganache and garnished with candied violets. “I tasted this for the first time today, and I think I tasted heaven,” said owner Françoise Walusis. Probably the strongest endorsement to try a chocolate that we’ve ever heard. 

>> The most romantic restaurants in Dayton

Chocolates from Madame Delluc's in Oakwood. CONTRIBUTED

3) Rosine Rose box. “I order this box only for Valentine’s. This is one of the iconic boxes of the Chocolatier with a design dating back to the 1920s. It holds 15 chocolates and is $36.50,” said Walusis. 


4) Toujours (“Always”) milk chocolate filled with a creamy hazelnut filling mixed with crispy wafer cookie pieces. If you are hearing the Homer Simpson drool sound in your head, you are not alone — we were, too. 

>> Keep the love local with these Valentine’s Day gift ideas

Chocolates from Madame Delluc's in Oakwood. CONTRIBUTED


5) Rosine Bleu. The store’s most popular iconic box. It holds 8 chocolates and is $22.95. If you are looking for something special for Valentine’s Day look no further. 

Chocolates from Madame Delluc's in Oakwood. CONTRIBUTED


6) Fleurs de Violettes (candied violets). This is also a brand new item the store just got in. Enjoy them alone or wow friends and family by topping off desserts with a beautiful, aromatic violet. They come packaged in 50 gram sachets for $12.95. 

Chocolates from Madame Delluc's in Oakwood. CONTRIBUTED


7) Chéri Chéri. This dark chocolate filled with a soft gooey apricot jelly is another brand new chocolate the store is featuring. 


8) Nadine. Mint and chocolate are not commonly paired together in Belgian chocolates. Walusis had mentioned to the owner of Mary Chocolatier in Brussels that many of her customers here in the U.S. ask for mint filled chocolate and they created this delicious treat just for them. 


9) The convenience. You can shop for most of the store’s inventory with a $25 purchase or more at www.francoiseimports.com and get it shipped to you or you can shop online and have it ready for pick-up. 


10) The reaction. One look at these chocolates and their packaging and there’s no doubt that you have stumbled on something really special. Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop listed it as one of the things “Women Really Want for Valentine’s Day” in 2016. Women and everyone else. These chocolates are that good.


What: Madame Delluc Artisan Chocolatier

Where: 2510 Far Hills Ave. in the Shops of Oakwood

More information: Call 937-356-8890 or visit www.francoiseimports.com

>> Oakwood chocolate shop scores national shout-out

>> The best places to get chocolate in Dayton

Madame Delluc in Oakwood is open and ready for holiday business. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ALEXIS LARSEN(Staff Writer)

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8 reasons to shop DVAC’s Holiday Gift Gallery

Published: Monday, November 13, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Wooden Cheese Slicer Board by Glen Clark costs $65 at DVAC’s Holiday Gift Gallery. CONTRIBUTED
Contributing Writer
Wooden Cheese Slicer Board by Glen Clark costs $65 at DVAC’s Holiday Gift Gallery. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

The Dayton Visual Arts Center’s annual Holiday Gift Gallery is a popular stop for finding unique presents for special people on your list.

“We are so excited to once again offer DVAC friends and supporters this fun way to support the artists in our community and check off their shopping list with truly one-of-a-kind gifts,” said DVAC executive director Eva Buttacavoli.

>> PHOTOS: 8 gifts made by local artists you can find at DVAC Art to Buy

Here are eight reasons to put this visit on your calendar:

Art lovers and cocktail conoisseurs packed the Dayton Visual Arts Center on Nov. 19 to pick Dayton's best holiday cocktail, snack on some tasty finger foods, and of course, buy some one-of-a-kind ornaments, jewelry, ceramics, paintings and more for Holiday on Ice, which served as a preview party for ARTtoBUY, DVAC's annual holiday gift gallery. VIVIENNE MACHI / STAFF

1. Fun kick-off holiday event. 

Get a Sneak Peek at the “Holiday on Ice” Preview Party. On Thursday, Nov. 16, you can shop, sip, and cast your vote in the third annual cocktail competition. Celebrity bartenders from Coco’s, Corner Kitchen, De’Lish, Lily’s Bistro, Mudlick Taphouse and Wheat Penny will be on hand to mix the cocktails.

Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for non-members and include fancy cheeseballs and party snacks by Nibbles Catering, cash bar and 10 percent off gift purchase. Cocktail tastings are $1 each or 6 for $5, so bring cash.

>> Shop, sip and snack at Holiday on Ice

Sculptured blue/salmon earrings resemble fallen leaves, by Sandra Picciano Brand cost $195 at DVAC’s Holiday Gift Gallery. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

2. Buy unique locally made gifts.

The downtown gallery is transformed this time of year into an all-art, all-original, all-local gift gallery where guests can shop from hundreds of unique items created by 55 Miami Valley artists. Customers can find ceramics, pottery, jewelry, fiber works, wood sculpture, paintings, prints, photographs, mixed media, flame-worked glass/metal, wearables and ornaments among other decorative and functional art.

“This year we are using the entire gallery, meaning more great pieces to choose from,” said Buttacavoli.

Horse Ornament by Dianne Judge goes for only $10 at DVAC’s Holiday Gift Gallery. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

3. Gifts for every budget.

Widely Varied Pricing is another feature of this yearly event that appeals to a lot of holiday shoppers. An example of an item at the low end of the price scale are cute horse ornaments by Dianne Judge at $10 each. Someone with a more expensive gift in mind might go for a wooden bowl by Tom Keen for $140, or sculptured blue/salmon earrings by Sandra Picciano Brand for $195.

“As always, prices vary and there are items available for every budget,” Buttacavoli said.

>> November events we cannot wait for

4. Holiday Trunk Show I

Shop and see more creations by local artists. “Wood, Ribbon and Silk: New Textured Glass Vessels” by Jim DeLange will be on view Dec. 1-2, with an opening party from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 30.

5. Holiday Trunk Show II

Along the same lines, check out “Semi-Peaceable Kingdoms: New Ceramics” by Almost Normal Design on Dec. 7-9, with an opening party from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 6. Almost Normal Design in Casstown is operated by Scott Farrara and Vaka Pereyma, who create ceramic tile, mosaics and pottery with whimsical story images.

“These mosaics and tile pieces are molded in our self-created plaster molds. We also form vessels on the pottery wheel, [then] glaze and kiln fire,” Farrara said.

6. Holiday Trunk Show III 

And one more. This one features “Wanderings: Exotic Landscapes in Fiber” by Anna Talei Fisher from Dec. 15-16, with an opening party from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 14. She is showing 12 woven tapestries and six decorative clay pieces.

“I have always held images in my head, and when I feel comfortable with my idea create the plate with clay,” said Fisher, who was born in Fiji and now lives outside of Wapakoneta. Then I carve the drawing into the wet clay. I use acrylic paints after the bisque fire and sealant.”

7. Special touches

The Holiday Gift Gallery also features a delightful installation by architect Matt Sauer. It’s a special holiday “Gallery Wrap” titled “giftsgiftsgifts3.” These special touches are what keep customers coming back year after year.

“Mayor Whaley visits every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving to complete her gift list,” said Buttacavoli. “We expect up to 2,500 visitors.”

>> Get to know the director of DVAC

Pottery, like this raku vase by Stephanie Beiser, is available at DVAC’s Holiday Gift Gallery. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

8) A gift to local artists

DVAC’s tagline is “art for the community and a community for artists,” and the organization lives up to that. All of the participating artists receive a 60 percent commission on Holiday Gift Gallery sales, which is definitely on the high end for gallery representation. So you can be confident that more than half of what you spend is going right back to the DVAC member artists.

Wooden bowl by Tom Keen costs $140 at DVAC’s Holiday Gift Gallery. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


What: “Holiday Gift Gallery”

Where: Dayton Visual Arts Center, 118 N. Jefferson St.

When: Nov. 17 - Dec. 23

Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 5-8 p.m. First Friday

More Info: 937-224-3822 | daytonvisualarts.org

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Black Friday comes early: Amazon launches its Black Friday deals 23 days early

Published: Thursday, November 02, 2017 @ 12:55 PM

It's never too early to find Black Friday bargains! Amazon started offering deals early after they debuted their Black Friday Deals Store Wednesday. The page will feature “Deals of the Day” with deep Black Friday-esque discounts on select items across a variety of different categories. Perhaps the best part is shoppers will be able to scan in augmented reality (AR). Customers with iOS 11 installed on their iPhone 6s devices or later can shop in AR then overlay it onto their living spaces to see how

Feeding Americans’ insatiable appetite for exclusive deals, Amazon has decided not to keep its online shoppers waiting until Black Friday. Instead, the digital shopping juggernaut kicked off its Black Friday deals Nov. 1.

The early launch of Black Friday is a part of Amazon’s “50 Days of Holiday Deals”  campaign, which will encompass deals on toys, electronics, home goods and a variety of hottest gifts.

“Customers shop Amazon year-round for our great prices, unbelievable selection, and free shipping on over 100 million products,”Doug Herrington, Amazon’s senior vice president of North American Retail, said in a statement.

“During the holiday season, customers love to discover great deals and must-have holiday gifts for friends and family.”

Beginning Nov. 8, Prime members will also have access to Amazon Key, the new service that will allow eligible packages to be securely delivered inside their homes while they’re out and about.

RELATED: Amazon Key, delivery service that lets couriers into your home, met with skepticism

Though various discounts and deals will be running between now and the official Black Friday, Amazon listed some initial deals in their release on Nov. 1.

Amazon Black Friday deals going on now:

This photo provided by Amazon shows models of the Amazon Echo Show. Amazon is giving its voice-enabled Echo speaker a touch screen and video-calling capabilities as it competes with Google's efforts at bringing "smarts" to the home. The new device, called Echo Show, goes on sale on June 28, 2017. Amazon says it's also bringing calling and messaging features to its existing Echo and Echo Dot devices and the Alexa app for phones. (Amazon via AP)(Amazon/AP)

Buy 2 Echo Shows, Save $100 with code SHOW2PACK.

Customers can save up to 30 percent off toys, including

Baby Alive Sweet TearsDropmixTickle Me Elmo .

For more on all the early Black Friday savings, visit amazon.com/blackfriday.


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Bebe closing all stores, moving to online-only sales

Published: Monday, April 03, 2017 @ 2:31 PM

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 30:  BeBe at Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino is seen on display on May 30, 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images)
Robert Mora/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 30: BeBe at Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino is seen on display on May 30, 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images)(Robert Mora/Getty Images)

Another popular retailer is ditching its brick-and-mortar stores and going to an online-only business.

>> Read more trending news

Bebe Stores Inc.,  a women’s clothing chain which operates fewer than 200 store locations across the United States, is closing all its stores and shifting its focus to become an online-only retailer. 

Bloomberg first reported the news on March 21. It said Bebe has “no significant debt” but has lost about $200 million over the last four years.

Bebe released a statement on March 22, saying that it is “exploring strategic alternatives for the company” and “there is no assurance that this process will result in any specific transaction.”

Bebe, based in Brisbane, California, was founded in 1976.

>> Related: Wet Seal closing all stores

>> Related: J.C. Penney to close between 130-140 stores

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