Looking for a DIY gift that’s both personalized and easy to do? Stuck for something special to give to that person in your life who has everything? Can’t get through the holiday season without scratching that crafting itch? Then you need to check out a really cool DIY gift idea we found over on Audra Kurtz’ YouTube page!

These DIY watercolor mugs are so lovely and so easy to do. In fact, the technique pretty much uses the same principles as some of our favorite nail polish art— except the results are much more long-lasting and giftable! All you need to create a beautifully patterned mug in no time is some water, nail polish, a toothpick and a cheap, ceramic mug. Watch this video demonstration and let Audra Kurtz show us how it’s done— then keep reading, because we’re breaking it down step-by-step for you!

DIY Watercolor Coffee Mug


  • Ceramic coffee mug(s)
  • Nail polish, in your chosen colors (Audra Kurtz used and recommends the Zoya brand)
  • Toothpick(s)
  • Deep plastic tub, deep enough to fit the entire coffee mug
  • Warm water
  • Paper towels
  • Clear acrylic spray


  1. Fill the deep plastic tub with the warm water.
  2. Pour a few drops of the nail polish onto the surface of the water, and allow it to spread out.
  3. Pour a few drops of your second color (if using) into the center of the first color. Repeat if using any additional colors.
  4. Working quickly, use a toothpick to swirl the colors together and create your watercolor design. Speed is important here, because otherwise the polish will dry on top of the water and form a film.
  5. Holding the mug straight up-and-down, dip the mug directly and straight down into the nail polish. Lift straight up, and you’ll see that the nail polish design has transferred onto the mug.
  6. Very gently, pat dry with a paper towel. Be sure not to wipe, or you’ll remove your design!
  7. Allow the mug to air dry for 2 to 3 hours.
  8. Seal the design with a clear acrylic spray, avoiding the inside of the mug and anywhere your mouth would touch. Audra Kurtz uses and recommends Krylon Acrylic Spray.

Bear in mind that this design is rather delicate. Remember – and remind anybody to whom you give these mugs as gifts! – that they should be hand-washed only. Do not put mugs decorated this way into a dishwasher, a microwave, or any other appliance in which they would be exposed to high heat.

Of course, who could mind having to take special care of a gift that was homemade? Not us, that’s for sure! We know so many coffee, tea, and hot chocolate lovers who would be so excited to receive a mug like these ones, especially if we decorated the mugs in their favorite colors!

Now what about you? Would you like to give or receive – or both! – this mug as a gift? Have you ever made anything similar? If you have experience, do you have any tips or words of wisdom to share? Tell us what you think!