If you’re new here, welcome! I’m AmberLee, and Giverslog is my place to collect gift ideas and pretty wrapping ideas from talented friends and bloggers (plus I throw in a few ideas of my own). I hope the next time you’re stumped about a gift for a teacher, grandparent, hostess, or anyone else that you’ll pop in and I can provide some inspiration.


I saw this DIY project sitting next to my sis-in-law’s sink and instantly knew I wanted to make a version with my kids to give as gifts. So we got to work and made one as a Mother’s Day gift for grandma and several as end-of-year gifts for teachers. The project is pretty basic, just a photocopy on a transparency inserted into a hand-soap pump. But we met with a couple disasters along the way, so I’ll run through the process for you.

diy-teachers-gift1. Start with a bottle of hand soap that has a clear blank area. I picked up these bottles of Lavata at Target (the Brazilian Citrus smells so yummy). DO NOT use foaming soap or hand sanitizer. When we tried each of these and the ink dissolved off the transparency.

personalized-teachers-gift2. I then gave my kids one note card for each grandma or teacher we’d be giving a bottle to. I had them draw a picture using just a pen. If you already have a piece of art your kids have created, that works too. And homespun poems can be just as great. I wanted my kids’ pics to fit into a set of hand-drawn frames. Here for download are the frames I drew for the project:

download from DropBox by clicking here: Handsoap Frame Art

or download here: Printable Hand Drawn Frames (4054)

personalized-teachers-gift23. For older kids you should be able to skip a step: just print the frames page and put your kids to work drawing directly on the paper. But I found the small drawing space was a little tough for my 4-year-old especially. So instead I reduced my kids’ art to fit in the frame and taped it in place (use a scanner, photocopier, or just your camera to take a picture and reduce your kids’ artwork size). Double check the frame size against the soap container you’ll be using, so you can have it reduced or enlarged if necessary.

4. I took my page of artwork to FedEx Kinkos and had it photocopied onto a page of transparency paper. (We tried using our inkjet printer and laserjet printer to print the transparencies at home, and the results were a mess. Both times the drawing separated from the transparency and dissolved into the soap.) I let my kids add a little color to the transparencies with some permanent markers. UPDATE: The yellows and reds have run, but the blues and greens held fast. You may want to stick with those safer colors if you add color.

free-printable-mothers-day-gift5. Finally came the easy part. I just trimmed each frame to fit the bottle, rolled it up to fit through the neck of the bottle, and slid it in. It unrolled in the bottle and I replaced the pump behind the art work. And that was it. They turned out great. In fact, I think I’m headed back to Target to pick up one more bottle for the music teacher.

handmade-mothers-day-giftThanks for stopping by. If you’re new here, don’t go without taking a peep at my gift guide index and pretty wrapping index. Hope to see you again soon.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

kimberly michelle April 29, 2009 at 1:54 pm

I’m running… no …. sprinting to Target to buy this soap along with making my copies at the Kinko’s next door.

And instead of being kids gifts, they’re just going to be awesome gift soaps for the guest bathroom. Thank you for this WONDERFUL idea!


simplesong April 29, 2009 at 3:58 pm

what a GREAT idea … I’m going to so do this as I know my little one will love seeing his artwork every time he washes his hands!


AmberLee April 30, 2009 at 1:15 pm

thanks for the love, girls! kimberly, using these in the guest bathroom is pure genius.


Kacey April 30, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Thanks for the wonderful idea. I was looking for something the kids could make Grandma for Mother’s Day, and this is the PERFECT gift!


AmberLee May 1, 2009 at 7:13 am

yea. Thanks, Kacey! I’m glad it will work.


Momo May 1, 2009 at 8:53 pm

What a fantastic idea!! Thanks for sharing!


michelle johnnie May 1, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Amazing! I was a teacher and this would have been the cutest gift ever! Thanks! I’m linking to it!


Sarah May 2, 2009 at 7:28 pm

laminating the transparencies might help with the ink runs?


jami May 5, 2009 at 8:53 pm

What a great idea for the grandma like ours who has everything!! I was so excited that I printed off the labels, had my children draw their pictures and zipped to Target to get the handwash and guess what? The Target’s in my city (Portland, OR) have discontinued that brand and don’t have any in stock. Now I’m having a heck of time finding a soap dispenser my labels will fit in. I am so sad. Great idea, though.


AmberLee May 6, 2009 at 8:22 am

hi jami,
what a pain! I’m so sorry to hear that. I’ve seen some hand soaps at Bath & Body in the past that would have worked, but I haven’t been recently. Also I’ve had friends find bottles and pumps at Industrial Container Supply stores, though I hate for you to have to run all over town. I know your kids already drew their pictures, but if you find a bottle that needs a different size, let me know and I can resize the frame and email it to you.


Lavata Products May 6, 2009 at 10:58 am


We are the manufacturers of the Lavata Hand Soap line and absolutely loved your ideas and the twist to our packaging!

The reason you were not able to find the products in all Target stores is that we are still in a test phase with Target and hopefully soon will be able to expand to more stores. Do keep your eyes open for a great new packaging revision available after Memorial Day.

Please do let us know if we can be of any help. Just wondering if we can add a link to your page on our upcoming website.

Tha Lavata Team
612 782-3941


Jenny May 6, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Hi! I just wanted to let you know that I also went to Target and could not find the soap you used. BUT – I purchased Target brand hand soap (I think their version of SoftSoap) that is clear. I have taken the front label off of it and am in the process of trying this project. The bottle is short and a little round. Hope this helps for people who can’t find the other soap!

Also – what do you think would happen if you printed onto the transparency in color? (Have the kids color it first, then transfer to transparency) Would this work?


AmberLee May 7, 2009 at 5:53 am

Jenny, yea! thanks for finding an alternative! as for printing, it’s possible that a professional color photocopy on the transparency might work? but i have both an at-home laser and ink jet, and was so sad b/c a couple hours after putting the transparency in the soap, a thin layer with the image separated off and denigrated.


Ann at mommysecrets May 7, 2009 at 4:18 am

I love this idea – so creative, so personal, an so practical!!


Merry May 7, 2009 at 1:00 pm

What a great idea…..will be using this sometime in the future…thanks for sharing.


Shellie May 8, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Adorable! Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial. We made these for Teacher gifts and they loved them! I did use hand sanitizer and had laser transparencies printed at Office Depot…so far so good!


jami May 10, 2009 at 8:21 pm

wow, i’m impressed at the helpful responses. i will definitely try the target brand hand soap. thanks for offering to resize the frames amberlee, but i have software that can do it if needs be. that’s sweet of you. and how cool that the manufacturer’s piped in to let us know the scoop. has anyone had success with using goo gone to take off labels on soap dispensers?


Nathalie June 2, 2009 at 2:50 pm

This is such a fun idea! I am going to try it but I also love the frames for other purposes! Thank you!


Sarah Martina June 2, 2009 at 8:08 pm

What an awesome idea… and you mentioned a music teacher at the end of your post…. EXACTLY who I needed a gift for! Thanks for sharing!!!


johanna June 4, 2009 at 11:03 pm

the cutest thing!


Gretchen June 11, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Great idea! I’m having an outdoor wedding and looking for ways to spruce up the “portable toilet”! Imagining labels with our names and wedding date. Thanks!


Jennifer March 25, 2010 at 7:02 am

I love your name . . . my sweet baby girl is Amberlin!


Heather April 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm

thanks for reposting this project on your teacher gift guide. thinking about tackling this one for sure, but if i can find a good bottle that will work I’m thinking about doing a clear sticker printed on the outside of the bottle instead.


linda May 8, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Hi Amber!
tyandi LOVE this gift idea AND totally used it. We had Jada scribble all over a piece of paper and off to Kinko’s we went. THANKS!


kim humpherys December 10, 2010 at 12:00 am

i am a 2nd grade teacher and my kids are making these for parent presents for xhristmas. soo fun. i’m wondering if you can make the frame size a 3 inch in width and 3.5 in heighth? i think that sizing will work. i bought my soap containers from the industrial container supply store in slc. i was hoping they could draw a pic of their families, but it’s so small i think it will have to be a self potrait. thanks!


Tena April 27, 2011 at 9:49 pm

If you use an inkjet printer the copy will not last in the soap, if you use a laser printed copy you are safe. I just take mine down to the copy store and they print in there for me. Also, kudos for supporting Target but you can get the same thing at the dollar store. I buy any clear soap and take off the labels with Goobegone.


AmberLee April 28, 2011 at 4:51 am

Thanks for taking a moment to come back and share these tips, Tena!

Hope your day is great!


Shannon Storey May 10, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I was looking for a project for Teacher’s appreciation day for my daughter’s pre-school teachers and was soooooo excited when I found this. This project is really cute and I too will not only be making one for the teachers but also one for our home bathroom. (Hopefully my Target has that brand of hand soap) Thanks, really neat idea!


AmberLee May 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Thanks for the sweet note, Shannon! I’m so happy you like it. And I’ve heard from several friends who have found soaps that work elsewhere too! So keep your eyes open.


Shannon Storey May 12, 2011 at 7:55 pm

OMG we made these for my daughters teachers for teacher appreciation and they came out sooooo good better than I expected. FYI, I had my daughter draw her picture in color markers and took that to Kinko’s and had them copy it and it really looked awesome. The color showed up so good. Also ,I didn’t try Target I just went to the 99 cent store and got the cherry blossom and cucumber melon Soft Soap. This is going to be the best gift they get hands down!


Susan May 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I just want to make sure I understsand correctly before I try this. When you say “transparency”, are you talking about the clear kind teachers used to use on an overhead projector?


AmberLee May 17, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Hi Susan,

Thanks for asking. And yes. I’m talking about the teacher type of transparency. I took my kids’s art right to the copy center and had them photocopy it on transparencies they had there.


Jen May 20, 2011 at 2:54 am

Love this idea. I couldn’t get the link to open with the frames. Would you mind emailing the frame template to me?! Thanks so much!


AmberLee May 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Hi Jen,
Thanks for the note, and the printable is on its way!


SeaMama September 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm

This is a wonderful project- thank you! I am already stressed about Christmas presents for my kids’ teachers and found your site from some Google searches for homemade teacher gifts. I just bought a bunch of 16.9 fl.oz. of light-colored handsoap at my local BigLots for $1.50 ea. and just caleld my local FedExKinko’s and learned it’s only $0.75 per 8.5 x 11 page to color-copy onto a transparency! I’m going to wrap these up in colored cellophane and tie them w/ a lot of pretty curled ribbon. One tip: The key to sticker removal is first to look for something that you think you can easily remove the sticker from. When you get it home, start a corner and then s-l-o-w-l-y roll the sticker away from the container (you’re basicaly rolling it back onto itself). Take your time so you can try to get it all off in one piece. Use rubbing alcohol, nail-polish remover, or something like “Goo Be Gone” to get off any remaining residue. Have fun!


AmberLee September 14, 2011 at 11:02 am

Thanks for the note, SeaMama! Love the tip on sticker removal. I should try nail polish remover, I have had some stubborn labels before.


Beth October 31, 2011 at 1:20 am

After the label is printed on the transarency, do you put it inside the bottle or stick it on the outside? Thank you :)


AmberLee October 31, 2011 at 4:32 am

Hi Beth! I roll up the transparency and slip the picture right into the bottle full of soap. I used the soap pump to maneuver it a little so it could go where I wanted. Good luck!!


Kim December 7, 2011 at 8:33 pm

This is such a great Idea, I shared it on my facebook page for my fans to make. I swear I am going to make one myself …..maybe more, I can think of a few message of my own, like…..”did you put the seat down” “hanging a new roll will not make you a women” oh gosh I could do this all day. Thanks for sharing!


AmberLee December 7, 2011 at 9:31 pm

kim!! that is exactly what I need. i am going to make one with each of these too!!
thanks for giving me a good laugh.


Hellen February 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

This is fantastic!.. I am a class mom this year and was looking for “End of Year” gifts and this I love! QQ: How do you get the transparency so stick to the bottle w/out moving all around? Also has anyone tried placing the stickers on the front of the bottle?

Thanks again! H


jamie February 20, 2012 at 5:18 am

I haven’t made these yet, but as far as finding clear bottles goes, try using an old neutrogena face wash bottle. It looks the same as the ones above.


Sara March 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm

I am so using this idea for my Kindergarten students for their Mother’s Day gifts! I think it will be a smash! I can’t wait!
Thanks for sharing this great idea!


Lara April 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm

This is so cute! Has anyone had any luck finding any good soaps to use lately? I checked Target and Bath & Body Works today with no luck :(


Jorelle May 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm

I love this idea. I agree with Hellen, stick it on the outside. I will definitely try to do that!! Thanks for the idea. WE are using it during teacher appreciation week! Added you to my pinterest board!


Dedriann May 31, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Did you find a way to stick it to the outside….tried her way and mine still ran off the transparency…used laser printer at Office box store


kate williams May 3, 2012 at 9:17 pm

do you take the soap out of the bottle before inserting the transparency


Dawn Wanck July 23, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I am wondering this too??? Can you help us Amberlee…thanks.


Rhonda G May 22, 2012 at 6:30 pm

what a great ideaa! I can’t wait to use it for a teacher gift this year!


Mag December 10, 2012 at 9:19 am

Confused, is the picture floating in the soap or is it somehow fastened to the inside wall of the bottle? Such a cute idea and would love to duplicate for grandparents! Thanks!


AmberLee December 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Hi Meg,
So sorry to be getting back to you so late. THe picture is basically floating in the soap, but I made the transparency big enough to touch the top and bottom of the bottle, so it doesn’t flip or wiggle. Best of luck!!


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