How To DIY Simple Cocktail Stirrers

DIY charm in under thirty minutes

There are plenty of ways to jazz up cocktails, but I think one of the most fun ways is with cocktail stirrers. And what’s better than a DIY project? An easy DIY project—these cocktail stirrers are simple enough that you can do them right before your party, and no one’s the wiser. Plus, they’re the perfect way to add a little color to your drink/bar area. Now, thanks to Tabitha’s excellent centerpieces and place card settings, you’re all set for your next holiday shindig.


  • 6 iced tea glasses
  • 1” gold vinyl letters
  • 3/4” x 3.5 piece of poplar (home depot)
  • A scrap of wrapping paper
  • Gum balls
  • Wood skewers
  • Nail
  • Painters tape

Cost Estimate: $20

Time Estimate: Thirty minutes for twenty-five stirrers and the display.

To Create the Stirrers:

1. Cut your skewer to 3 different lengths (full length, minus one inch, minus two inches).

2. Use your clean nail to start a hole in one side of the gum ball.

3. Shove in the pointy or cut/ugly side of the skewer, being careful not to shove it through both sides of the gum ball.

4. Voila, drink stirrers!

To CReate the Display:

1. Use painters tape to mark the place on your glass you’d like your letters—we did 3.5” from the top of the glass.

2. Stick one letter on each glass, making sure you like the position before you really press it down firmly.

3. Cut your wrapping paper about 4” shorter than your wood and wrap it around the middle, securing with tape on the underside.

4. Line up your glasses, and fill ’em with stirrers.


1. Change the color by picking different gum balls. Or use the display for any stirrers you can dream up—tiny pinecones, jingle bells, whatever you want to put on sticks really.

2. Change the word or use a different color vinyl.

3. Use different glasses, jars, or containers—maybe something you already have in your kitchen.


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  • KC

    Gumballs as temporary drink stirrer toppers: genius! Bright, cheery, unexpected, cheap, available in many colors, food-safe – these hit all the buttons. :-)

    (that said, of course, remember to multiply the amount of time it takes to make each one by the number of guests and make sure that number is still “worth it” solely for fancy drink stirrers if the event is Very Large)

    • SuperDaintyKate

      Yes. Consider the time. I expect that holiday parties are generally smaller than weddings.. but… This one time I endeavoured to make 250 animal-topped drink stirrers on a bit of a whim (I really like crafting…). It took upwards of 20 hours (not including the time it took for the paint on the animals to dry) over 4 days (oh, and 3 bottles of wine).

      Was it worth it solely for fancy drink stirrers? Probably not, but we will see. Was it worth it in the sense of needing to busy myself over an exceptionally rainy and lonely long weekend? I would say so.

      Bubble gum is brilliant, though. Much faster and easier than getting the drill involved.

      • Lauren from NH

        How did you manage not to drill through your hand with the tiny animals? (Random I know, but once I thought of this question I had to ask…)

        • SuperDaintyKate

          I kind of pinned the animals on their side/backs between my hand and a piece of wood on the table so my hand wasn’t behind the drill bit. The animals were surprisingly hard to drill into and took a lot of pressure (I think my drill bit was dull) so I very rarely went through the back of the animal.

          I should add that the drilling was done at the beginning, well before the wine took effect. I do not advise drinking and drilling.

        • scrutables

          You can get a cheap vise on for $15 or so; might be worth it if you’re thinking of doing a bunch.

      • KC

        *Yes* on some crafts being worth it for the fun of doing them (or, as in your case, occupying a lonely and rainy long weekend) but not worth it in the normal sense of worth it. If you truly enjoy doing fiddly things, then the time/output payoff can be totally reasonable; if you don’t enjoy the process or don’t have the time, then the balance shifts, and that’s okay. You do not need handmade favors or bubblegum-topped drink-stirrers or basically any of the other odds and ends of objects/decor to have an “authentic” wedding; it can be fun, but it’s also okay to say “y’know, I want sleep more than I want hand-stamped paper bags” or whatever and just cut that from the to-do list.

        • SuperDaintyKate

          This, x1000. The reason to craft frivolous things is because you like to craft and have the time to do it.

      • Yea, this was me with paper flags. It wasn’t difficult, but it took some hours. But I’m that person who does fiddly things while marathoning shows on Netflix, so this kind of thing is right up my alley.

      • Meg Keene

        See above. I normally think half of all craft projects are a waste of time, but cocktail stirrers are weirdly impressive. I predict people tell you a ZILLION times how cool they are, at which point you will feel totally justified.

  • TeaforTwo

    Does the colour of the bubblegum not come off on people’s hands?

    • KC

      In my admittedly limited experience with gumballs (kid’s camp counselor in high school), they’re generally coated outside the colored layer with something (wax? not sure), which means that no, they generally don’t “share” their color easily (less than M&Ms), nor do they tend to stick to each other. If buying specific Fancy Specialty gumballs, though, you could hold one in a fist for a while and see if anything happened.

    • Meg Keene

      You don’t tend to touch the top of cocktail stirrers. I know that the word “stirrer” implies that you would…. you know… stir with it. But in my experience (I have a oddly lot of experience, I go to a lot of design-y parties for work), you mostly just took at it and feel fancy.

      I don’t know WHY cocktail stirrers are so impressive in real life, but whenever I’m at a party with them I’m so absurdly impressed with the hosts I can’t stop looking at them. Tabitha told me she threw a holiday party with one zillion time intensive crafts, and the only thing people commented on constantly was the cocktail stirrers. Which is about how it goes.

      • Lauren from NH

        Any experience with “wine charms”? They seem a little dorky, but I was thinking of trying to craft them like Kate with plastic animals to help people keep track of their glasses and bottles.

        • Jess

          I have found that they are useful, but I don’t tend to notice them while I’m drinking – unlike the so-called “swizzle stick” which I have to push out of my face. (For the record, I LOVE swizzle sticks and buy the fanciest ones possible. I probably commented on the original “DIY: Holiday Edition” about these ones because I loved them so much.)

          • Meg Keene

            I know. You keep having to push them out of your face… and yet they are so enticing. I don’t understand myself sometimes.

        • scrutables

          I’m thinking about that too, to cut down on the number of glasses required for the reception. I’ve been thinking about hang tags, washi tape, different combinations of ribbon… The part I think is good to remember is that you don’t need infinite variations for them to be useful- people can keep track of their glass at least a lil bit.

          Let me know if you have any strokes of genius on this theme. Now I’m off onto the idea of stirrers serving a similar function- seems helpful given that not every glass has a stem.

          • Meg Keene

            Best tip is to put a sign on the bar asking people to keep track of their glasses. They… won’t… but it will help. And on that note, the standard advice is that if you’re ordering rentals you need to order 3X the number of glasses than there are guests.

          • Lauren from NH

            So part of my vision (which I almost don’t want to share because I love it so much) is to have English Party Crackers on everyone’s seat at the ceremony, which they will pull after the I-dos. And I was going to put the drink rings inside as the prize! English Party Crackers are a bit of a holiday tradition in my family, also we are contemplating reworking his orthodox “crowning” tradition so the paper crowns could make for great audience participation (and an awesome icebreaker!).

            I will let you know what develops! It will probably be a spring project for me if it comes to fruition.

          • scrutables

            Ack that sounds super cute! And a neat thought on the crowning too- my family is Armenian Orthodox and I can’t handle the text of the traditional ceremony but I was always so taken by the crowns as a little girl.

          • KC

            I think stirrers with a little name (or otherwise distinctive) flag at the top would be genius, personally. You would want to make sure that it stays in all your beverage containers (since tall glasses might swallow a stirrer that would fall, top-heavy, out of a super-short glass or wine glass), but that seems like it wouldn’t take much testing if you already know what glasses you’re using?

          • scrutables

            Little washi tape flags! Wouldn’t be top heavy, could be written on if needed, easy to make, would fulfill my sudden insatiable urge to washi tape everything- genius!

          • KC

            Washi tape sounds fantastic! And yes, write-on-able if you decided you needed more individualization – or perfectly fine as-is if you got near the finish line and aaaack no time to write. :-) (or, hey, sharpies at the bar counter for people to write on their own flags!)

            I would note that if you have tall swizzle sticks and short glasses, depending on the shape of the glass, they can still be sufficiently “top-heavy” enough to potentially tip out just because of the percentage of swizzle-stick weight above vs. below the glass line. (for visualization: It’s hard for most people to fall over a 4′ fence. It’s easy for most people to fall over a 6″ garden-border fence. It gets more complicated with the interior shapes and curves of glassware, but you get the point. Obviously less top-heavy than something where you’re putting something with appreciable weight at the… top… but still, worth checking how well the swizzle stick stays in, say, wine glasses, if that’s the Main Drink ID Scheme. Of course, if there is no One True Length for swizzle sticks for all your beverage options, nothing’s stopping you from having two heights of swizzle stick available, though, especially if you go with washi tape flag tops!)

      • scrutables

        I am ALL ABOUT the cardboard boxes of DIY. As in, you get the kiddo an expensive gift, but all she really wants is to play with the box. If stirrers are one of those things, sign me up.

  • Jess
    • Ali

      Get out of my head! I was just about to google search for golden gumballs – thanks!

      • Jess

        I wanted glitter and so far have only found shimmer. I’ll keep looking.

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