A Thrift Store Mug Makeover for Father’s Day

This adorable Father’s Day craft only cost a buck! And you only need two supplies to make it. It’s time for a mug makeover for dear old dad!

This adorable Father's Day craft only cost a buck! And you only need two supplies to make it. It's time for a mug makeover for dear old dad!

Every good father deserves a “World’s Best Dad” mug for Father’s Day. And instead of picking one up at the nearest big box store, it’s always better to craft one up yourself. And guess where I believe you should seek out inspiration? Thrift stores! They’re cheap. There’s always a hidden gem to be found. And you can take your finds and personalize them with very little effort.

For this Father’s Day craft project you only need two things – a mug and a sharpie. But before we begin this mug makeover, here are some tips to take with you on your thrift store shopping spree.


  • Look for oddball mugs. This is one of the perks of shopping at thrift stores – they have a really good selection of plain mugs, wacky mugs and corporate mugs. I was able to find a mug shaped like a tennis ball. My stepdad loves tennis – so BOOM – I snapped that baby right up.Maybe your dad loves dogs? Maybe he loves football? Trust me, thrift stores have a little of everything. (Geez, you think I should be a spokesperson or something!)
  • Look for bargains. I paid .99 at Goodwill for my tennis ball mug – which I think was a little steep. I know, I sound like a real cheapskate – but you can buy new mugs for just a few bucks these days. But then I got to thinking, my tennis ball mug is one-of-a-kind and so it would’ve probably been a lot more expensive if I bought it brand new. Plus, the money goes to a good cause. So in the end, I was satisfied with my deal.Goodwill did have mugs for .50. Some of those would’ve worked just fine too. Also, if you’re picking your mugs up at a yard sale, be sure to haggle. You’ll  be shocked at how cheap you can get stuff at yard sales.
  • Pay attention to the logos. If some of the logos are smeared, that’s a good mug! That means you’ll probably be able to get the rest of it off with a little elbow grease and you’ll have a fresh palate to work with. If the logo is raised, it’s probably been glazed over – and I would avoid that one. Those need to be sanded and glazed again. That’s too much work for this craft dude!
  • Inspect, inspect, inspect! Are there any cracks or chips? Is the mug badly stained with coffee or tea? If they are, skip ’em. However, if you find a mug that you absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE – but it’s slightly stained, take a chance on it. Vinegar, baking soda and elbow grease can do wonders for coffee and tea stains.
  • Simple is best. Snap up all the white mugs you can find. They’re perfect for future craft projects. If some of the mugs have simple designs or artwork that you can add to – then those are great too. And solid colored mugs are also good finds.

This adorable Father's Day craft only cost a buck! And you only need two supplies to make it. It's time for a mug makeover for dear old dad!


  1. Before you scribble anything on your mug, you’ll need to clean the surface with vinegar or glass cleaner. This will get any oil and residue off the surface so the ink from your Sharpie can adhere to the mug.
  2. Grab your black Sharpie and get creative. I went the simple route because the tennis mug is just so darn cute. I just wrote “dad” on there. But you be as clever as you wish. “World’s Best Dad”, “#1 Dad”, “I Love Dad” – those are all perfectly acceptable. And if you’re using a white mug, let your Sharpie run wild. Draw pictures, sketches and simple designs. They all look super adorbs against the white background.
  3. This is definitely a “Scott” tip – but I let my design dry, and then I go over it again with my Sharpie. It’s a little fussy, and there’s no real proof that it makes the design last longer or adhere better. But it makes me feel better, so do as you wish.
  4. Let your artwork dry, and then place it into a cold oven. Turn the oven to 350 degrees and let your mug “bake” for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn off the oven. Do not take your mug out of the oven, just let it cool down inside. What we’re doing here is heating up the glaze that’s already on the mug. This will set our Sharpie design.
  5. After your oven and mug are both cooled down, remove the mug. Here’s another “Scott thing”…I usually let my mug rest for about 24 hours. I believe it lets everything cure and settle in. Better safe than sorry, right?
  6. Hand wash your mug. Fill it with steaming hot java. And serve your dad coffee in bed!

This adorable Father's Day craft only cost a buck! And you only need two supplies to make it. It's time for a mug makeover for dear old dad!

If you look on Pinterest or other crafting sites, Sharpie-mug crafters are divided. Some say theirs turned out AMAZING, while other say their designs washed away after just a few uses. So here are my thoughts:

  • Hand-washing has always been successful for my Sharpie mugs. However, if you absolutely have to make it dishwasher ready – give it a run in your dishwasher. If it fades, guess what – it’s only a Sharpie mug. Just re-do your design. No biggie. When you “bake” it for a second time, set the oven temp a little higher to really set your work into that mug.
  • Don’t use colored sharpies. Some of the colors turn out a little strange after you’ve “baked” your mug. I’d stick with classic black.
  • If you actually purchase new mugs for this project, go cheap. Like super cheap! Dollar stores have mugs, well…for a dollar. And they’re very inexpensive at discount stores too. These mugs are generally easy to work with because the glazing isn’t thick and the Sharpie designs adhere quite well. But definitely make an effort to find them at thrift stores and yard sales first! Remember, we’re trying to craft a green world here!

If you try this project, I want to see them! You can email them to crunchyscott@yahoo.com or tweet them to @crunchyscott or @CAGW.


This adorable Father's Day craft only cost a buck! And you only need two supplies to make it. It's time for a mug makeover for dear old dad!

Written by Crunchy Scott

I'm a self-proclaimed eco-geek. I'm also a flexitarian foodie, a crunchy crafter and an eco-journalist. And if it's awesomely 80s, I'm into it. Oh, and I wrote a kids book too! Find me on and . Wow, I'm everywhere! So come find me.

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  1. I have read the same thing. Buy cheap mugs because that means they have used very little glaze on it. Dollar Store here I come.

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