A Book Safe & Candy Dish with Goodwill Finds

A Sweet Storybook Romance

Here are two really great gifts you can make from Goodwill finds. The candy dish is a sweet and easy project that can be assembled in a few minutes. The book gift is a little more involved, but is a nice, romantic surprise for a special sweetheart—the inside is hollowed out, so a secret gift can be placed inside!

Either way, that special someone will love these thoughtful Valentine’s presents, and you’ll be supporting Goodwill which by selling donated goods in its outlet and retail stores and online creates thousands of jobs and millions in revenues that fund job training programs across the United States and Canada, contributing sound investments in the economic health of local communities.

Book with Secret Compartment


Hardcover book

White glue, decoupage glue, or acrylic gel medium


Plastic wrap

Masking tape (or any low tack tape)

Utility knife


Goodwill always has tons of used books, so you’re bound to find the perfect one for this project. Maybe you’ll find one that has your sweetheart’s name in the title, or something with a romantic or personally relevant title. I chose my book because it was red without a title on the front cover. It also was a lonely volume from an encyclopedia set—somehow it had been separated from all the other volumes in the set. Plus, the letter of the volume is the initial of the person I wanted to give it to.

I have to admit, choosing a book for this project was tough for me. I have always been taught to respect books, so the idea of cutting one up was a little painful. However, because it came from a set that was missing, I felt this was the perfect book to repurpose since it had sort of lost its usefulness. Plus, it had some water damage, and dirt that needed to be cleaned off, so it was no longer in pristine condition.

To make the compartment in the book really secret, start the hollowing out process a few pages in. Choose the page you want to be on top of the hollowed out section, and turn it, so it’s bunched with the other pages that won’t be cut.

Wrap those first few pages in plastic wrap and secure with some low tack tape like masking tape.

Mix some white glue with water (about 70% glue, 30% percent water), so it has a runny consistency. This will help the glue seep into the pages, so they stick together.

Paint the inside back cover with the glue-water mixture.

Close the book. Paint the exposed page edges with the glue-water mixture. Don’t worry if the glue drips; it dries clear.

Place something heavy on the book and let the glue dry.

Mark the stack of pages that will be cut at least an inch inside the edge.

Cut the pages with a utility knife. To make really straight cuts, it helps to use a straight edge for the first cut. Also, make sure the blade is really sharp. Cut the pages a few at a time, and change the blade throughout the process when cutting becomes more difficult.

Once the desired depth is reached, paint the inside edge with the glue-water solution. Re-coat the outside edge, and seal up any openings that may have been made during the cutting process. Then paint the top edge of the opening.

Remove the plastic wrap. Carefully place the reserved top page onto the glue. Shut the book and let dry about an hour.

Neatly cut the top page to expose the opening.

Cut a nice ribbon for a bookmark, and place a Valentine’s gift inside.

Candy Dish


Bowl, mug or goblet



Clear cellophane

Twist tie

Gift tag


This is a great project to do while you’re waiting for the glue to dry on your hollow book. I was lucky enough to find a Valentine-themed bowl at my local Goodwill. However, don’t despair if you can’t find one with hearts or Cupid. Look for something red or pink, or just use a plain white bowl and dress up with a red ribbon. If you can’t find the right bowl, use a mug, goblet, or glass for the same effect. The one thing I love about Goodwill is you never know what you will find, and that helps to get the imaginative juices flowing.

Fill the bowl with your sweetheart’s favorite candy and chocolates.

Wrap with cellophane and secure with a twist tie.

If needed, trim the excess cellophane.

Push the lollypop stem into the cellophane, add a gift tag, and cover the twist tie with a ribbon tied into a bow.

Goodwill is the perfect place to shop for Valentine’s Day. You’ll always find something you can’t find anywhere else, and Goodwill’s employment programs promote independence and dignity for people who need support to provide for themselves and their families.

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