DIY Name in Lights!
If you want an inexpensive but really cool gift, try making a Christmas light sign out of cardboard. Go to a home improvement store or somewhere they sell appliances and get a washer/dryer box, or a refrigerator box. Cut it to the size you want. I made my sign about two by four feet. Trace the saying or name on the cardboard in pencil, so if you make a mistake, you can erase it.
Measure the distance between the bulbs. My bulbs were about two and half inches apart, so I penciled holes about two inches apart. I used a drill to make the holes. I gradually used bigger bits so I got holes that were just a hair smaller than the bulbs.
This is after I drilled the holes. If you don't have a drill, that's okay. Use a box cutter or Xacto knife to cut tiny x's in the cardboard so you can fit the bulbs through.
This is the drill I used. I think the bit size I used was 15/64.
I already had paint so I didn't have to buy it. I used Olympic Icon Satin and the color, also an Olympic color, was Crushed Velvet.
After you make the holes, push the bulbs through. If you drilled the holes, make sure the holes are just a bit smaller than the bulbs, so the bulbs sit firm. The drill will make the cardboard fringe a little bit, so what you need to do next is ...
push the bulb through all the way. Then, take the cardboard fringe and pinch it around the wire, then shove the bulb back into the hole. The fringe will help the bulb sit a bit firmer. If the bulbs get wiggly, use some electrical tape to secure them.
To make the most of your light string, start with the very end and start at either end, with the first or last letter, then work your way to the right (or left.) If you want the plug-in part to be on the right side of the sign, start on the left. If you want the plug on the left, start on the right.
Get some foam blocks and glue them on another piece of cardboard, about the same size as your sign. After you've put the bulbs in the sign and taped them into place, glue the backboard to the back of the cardboard with the bulbs in it. This is so you can hang the sign on the wall. Drill or cut holes in the back and tie some twine or picture wire firmly.
My friend Heidi with her finished gift! She was very pleased to get it. I was happy with it myself. If you want to experiment with different fonts, type out the name or saying you want to make on a computer with whatever font you want. Then, print it out and if you need to, enlarge it on a photocopier. Just remember the bigger the sign, or the more elaborate the font, the more lights you'll need. I was able to make this sign with one string of lights. Since I had everything I needed except the lights, the electrical tape and the foam blocks, my financial outlay for this was $8 and tax. Not bad at all when you end up with a one-of-a-kind gift! I got this idea from an article on Buzzfeed.com. (It's tip number 16.) Check it out!