message in a bottle

(Makes 1 gift)


A Gift That’s Right on the Money
Graduation season sparked this idea to put a handmade twist on monetary gifts for the young adults that we know and love. While it’s fulfilling to give a gift recipients can really use, it’s also fun to watch their faces while they unveil a surprise. Why not send a message in a bottle to add the mystery of what could possibly be in there?  You don’t have to actually drop it in the ocean; just hand deliver or mail it in a small box.

1 corked bottle, size and shape of your choice. Vial shown is 4 1/2” x 3/4.” (Note: a cylindrical form makes it easier to get the message out of the bottle)

1 piece 8 1/2” x 11” lightweight paper, color of your choice

1 decorative pen, such as a gel pen

1 piece of string or jewelry type cord, small enough to  get through the eye of your needle

A small amount of glitter confetti (or other filler of your choice)

1 hand sewing needle
x-acto blade or other paper cutter

Optional: wax and a metal embossing tool, or material to make a customized label for the bottle


When selecting your vessel, choose a tube-like vial or other glass bottle with a cork top. Cork will allow you to thread a string through it to hold and retrieve your message. If you are using this vessel for a money gift, make sure that the fillable portion of your bottle is at least 3 inches tall to accommodate the width of a dollar bill. You can find corked bottles in many shapes and sizes at a craft  store, or online at Specialty Bottle.

For your message, use a paper cutter to cut a piece of lightweight paper longer than (and at least the width of) your paper money, to keep it hidden when rolled up in the paper. Suggested size is 2 5/8” x 7.” Write a message with a contrasting gel pen. Set it aside.

Next, use a hand sewing needle to thread a cord through the cork. You will use this cord to tie around your rolled up note. Colorful polyester cord used for jewelry making or anything that  fits through the eye of your needle will work.

Once the string is through the cork, tightly roll your money into the message paper, making sure that the diameter of the roll is smaller than the bottle opening.  Otherwise, retrieving the gift gets a bit difficult.

Tie one end of the cord snugly around your paper roll, and pull the cord to a length so that your message can dangle in the middle of the bottle when corked. Knot the other end of the string, on top of the cork. Make sure the knot is big enough to hold, otherwise double knot it. Set the message/string/cork aside for a moment.

Now,  fill the bottom of the bottle. We used glittery confetti, but other choices might be charms, candy, or sand from a favorite beach. Finally, insert the message into the bottle, and cork the lid.

Once the contents are inside the bottle, seal the end of the string to the glass with embossed wax, or a personalized adhesive label.  This will keep the cork safely in place until opened by the recipient. Keep it simple, or add a charm or tassel to the outside of the bottle.

 This gift idea can be used in many different ways. Secret love notes come to mind, special mementos or anything that would usually be presented in a plain old envelope. No need to send a card with this gift , since your special message is already in there!  Think of this as the best three-dimensional money card a person could receive. Handmade by you. Always more special.

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