The Least Expensive & Most Romantic Valentine’s Day Gift Ever: DIY Penny Charm Bracelet

by Brett on February 7, 2013 · 104 comments

in Dating, Marriage, Relationships & Family


PSA: Valentine’s Day is next week.

Are you looking for a thoughtful gift idea for the occasion that goes beyond the usual chocolates, flowers, and plush teddy bear holding a satin heart, but don’t want to plunk down a 15-carat wad of cash? Well, I’ve got you covered. Today I’ll share  how to make one of the most romantic, and yet least expensive Valentine’s Day presents possible. It costs about five dollars and takes just a half-hour to make — no other gift offers more swoon and “awwwww” for the buck.

I actually got the idea for this while browsing Pinterest a while back. (Yes, I browse Pinterest. There’s actually some cool man stuff there and lots of recipes for good grub. Shameless plug: follow AoM on Pinterest). The basic concept is this: You take a penny minted in different years that are significant to your relationship with your girl and turn it into a charm bracelet.

I thought it looked like a swell gift idea for my wife so I decided to make it. Result? She loved it.

If you’re ready to become the world’s greatest boyfriend/husband this Valentine’s Day, read on.

Materials Needed

  • Pennies. You need a penny from each significant year of your relationship — her birth year, your birth year, year you met, year you married, year(s) kid(s) were born, etc.
  • Chain bracelet. See if your wife/girlfriend has an old chain-link bracelet. If she doesn’t, buy one at the craft store for $3. (When I went to Hobby Lobby to buy a bracelet, a smooth jazz version of “El Shaddai” was playing over the store sound system. True story.)
  • 9mm jump rings. You can buy a package at the craft store for $2.00
  • Scrap wood
  • Vinegar
  • Salt

Tools Needed

  • Power drill (ideally a drill press)
  • 1/8-inch drill bit
  • Metal file/sandpaper

Step 1: Find Pennies


Sorting through my coin bank like a regular Scrooge McDuck. Look for a penny made in each significant year of your relationship: your wife’s/girlfriend’s birth year, your birth year, the year you met, the year you got married, the year(s) your children were born. You get the idea. This will take longer than you think. If you have kiddos, recruit them to help. Just keep an eye on any toddlers sticking coins in their noses.


Jackpot! Finally a use for the lowly penny. Now we need to give these bad boys a bath.

Step 2: Clean Pennies


Place pennies in a bowl and pour some vinegar in.


Add salt for good measure and mix. Let them soak for about 5-10 minutes. They’ll come out looking bee-u-ti-ful.

Step 3: Drill Holes


Put your penny on your scrap piece of board and start drilling a 1/8-inch hole into it. A drill press is definitely ideal, but I don’t have one so I just used my power drill. I ended up taking my thumb off the penny so I could use both hands to press down on the drill. The penny started spinning around really fast, but it got the job done.


I used a split drill bit, so I was left with a rough edge on the back of the penny. A pilot drill bit would have given me a cleaner cut. Again, just working with what I had.

Step 4: File/Sand Rough Edges


I took some sandpaper designed for metal surfaces and cleaned up the rough edges around the hole as much as possible. I didn’t have one, but a metal file would probably work better.

Step 5: Put Jump Loop Ring Through Penny Holes


Place a jump ring through a penny and hold it daintily, like so. Yes, I said daintily. Do the same for all your pennies

Step 6: Attach Jump Ring & Penny to Chain Bracelet


Step 7: Break Out the Smelling Salts and Prepare for Swooning


I probably could have bought a better-looking chain, but I don’t have a refined taste for lady’s bracelets.

Option #2: Key Chain


The bracelet is a little quirky, and if it’s not your wife’s/girlfriend’s style, you can make her a key chain with your pennies instead. You’ll simply need a 24mm split ring key ring and a larger drill bit (3/18″ worked for me). Drill your holes and thread them on the key ring. Boom. Instant, thoughtful gift.

I’m sure you could get all sorts of creative with either the bracelet or the key chain, but alas, I have the creativity of a drill bit. The real gold, or golden copper here, is the penny idea. Any way you do it, it will make your gal go “awwww,” and even if she doesn’t like it, she’ll think it’s mighty thoughtful and keep it forever and ever. Whenever she looks at it, she’ll think of how your relationship just makes cents. I’m here all night folks. Please tip your waiters.

Share your DIY Valentine’s Day gift ideas in the comments!

{ 104 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Tom August 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm

If you have access to chemicals and electricity, you could plate them in gold or silver, for added effect.

102 Ashton September 7, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Don’t let these wet blankets get you down, Brett! I’m going to hold this up as the gold standard of romantic things in my mind as I mull over ideas for a perfect birthday gift for the dear boyfriend in a few months.

103 Howard September 28, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Thanks for the bracelet idea. It went down very well, and not too difficult to make. Well done.

104 Kynesgrove89 April 5, 2014 at 11:37 pm

I’ve been reading this website for awhile now (I’m female). i think this is a great idea. I love homemade inexpensive gifts and this made me smile. I love it when my boyfriend does cheap little goofy things like this, instead of spending a ton of money on something. I think it means more and is heartfelt.

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