I love doing craft projects and anything DIY, but I’ll admit – it’s not always cheap! Handmade, or homemade, if you prefer, is definitely NOT cheaper than store bought. So I rely on sales, coupons, and clearance to fund my projects when possible.
I’m also always perusing the Target Dollar Spot aisles when I get a chance. These are the little block of aisles right inside the door that look like a tornado has hit them. I’m normally not expecting to see much when I make my way through the madness that those aisles have become. I was very pleasantly pleased, though, when I saw all of the Valentine’s Day supplies and crafts that were of good quality, and priced right for my budget!
Never overlook this area as a good place to find good supplies for your crafty projects.
I also found some Valentine’s kits in the Dollar Spot aisles that were amazing! It hearkens back to the day where Valentine’s were better quality than a thin piece of cardboard strapped to the back of a candy. Although I’m conflicted – I won’t be the only cool mom to make really clever Valentines with the ease of picking these up. I guess I’ll have to get over it sooner or later.
I’ll have to find some other way to be the cool mom. As the parent of an only child, I just have one chance 😉
My daughter is really getting into the holiday this year, so she was all over making Valentines for mommy & daddy. We stocked up at the dollar spot and got to work one icy weekend.
From the dollar spot, we grabbed some jars, felt heart cut outs, plenty of stickers (because when you are five, stickers are golden), and a pack of Valentine’s themed paper. This paper was well worth the purchase – it has glittered sheets, patterned sheets… It will live nicely in my collection of papers that I’m someday going to scrapbook with.
I helped by using the hot glue gun to affix all of the felt hearts, but otherwise, my daughter directed me on where to glue everything. She placed many, many stickers wherever she could, and we filled them with candy.
We used the prettiest paper from the paper pack to cut hearts, which were glued to blank cards that I had on hand. She dictated to me a message for each myself and my husband, from her, of course, and she signed the outside of the card after affixing, oh, I’d guess ALL of the remaining stickers.
Finally, her gifts for Mommy & Daddy on Valentine’s Day are complete! I think the best part for me was to see the excitement on her face as she found a place in her closet to hide these gifts from us until she can give them to us on Valentine’s Day. Seeing how thrilling that was for her was priceless for me.
But it was nice to be able to do this with cheap supplies, and stock all of the leftovers into my craft stockpile for later projects!
Was there ever a more fun day at school than Valentine’s Day?
Decorating those shoeboxes, writing a valentine for all of your classmates, and reading the valentines from your secret admirers… Not to mention the CHOCOLATE!
Something happened a few years ago, and they just don’t make Valentine’s like they used to. They no longer contain the teeny little envelopes. They stink.
I’ve been enjoying all of the professional looking homemade valentines all over Pinterest, so for the second year running, I’ve made my own! It’s inspired by my daughter’s latest obsession, Pokemon! Okay really, I guess they aren’t my own – they are my daughter’s. And someday when she actually shows an interest in making her own crafts, I will totally step aside and let her do it. Until then, let me at em!
I started by printing my valentine onto some thick paper/cardstock. I’ve included a link below so you can print off the valentine for free! This is my first publicized Photoshop project- woohoo! I also used some scissors, packing tape, and a ziploc sandwich bag.
I ordered a bag of assorted Pokemon toys from Amazon. Well, I am told they are Pokemon… The reviews were good, but I guess you get what you pay for! They are perfect for four and five year olds, though.
To attach the little pocket monsters to the valentine, I simply cut off a corner of the sandwich bag. Using the packing tape, I sealed up the side that no longer had a seam, inserted Mr. Chu, and used another piece of packing tape to attach the bag to the valentine.
I love how fun these are! All of my daughter’s friends and teachers will get a fun little toy, and it’s less candy filling those kids with craziness!
And I just can’t get over how happy Pikachu looks to be included in a Valentine!
Here’s a link to a free printable – I’d love to see what you do with it, so please share your results if you use it!
Second to the Christmas tree, stockings are one of the common images of the season that transcend borders & styles.
As a kid, I could always depend on an apple and an orange being in the bottom of my stocking. I had attributed their appearance to being a cheap & reasonable way to fill a good portion of a stocking. It was fascinating to learn later that this had less to do with the burden of filling stockings after buying all of those gifts, but actually traced back to tradition. Which specific tradition, however, is a matter of contention among “experts.”
One item of folklore about St. Nick is that he had given a gift of a dowry to the daughters of a poor farmer, who could not afford to marry them off otherwise. The sacks of gold in the toes of the stockings had the look of oranges to them.
Other traditionalists claim that oranges – and soon after apples – started appearing in the stockings of the Great Depression, as at the time, fresh fruits were hard to come by and were considered a luxury. This doesn’t really explain why people from other countries could count on getting an orange in their stockings, however.
So after the oranges and apples have been placed softly into the toe of your socks, what next? You never realize how much a sock can hold until it’s stocking stuffing time. Filling stockings can add up to be an expensive endeavor, as well as one full of unnecessary, impractical clutter-makers. I’ve compiled a list of stocking stuffers for all ages to help make filling them easier for you.
Age: 0 – 6 months
At this age, you could get away with just handing the child the stocking (if they are closer to 6 months), or filling it with crumpled up wrapping paper. But, for those that insist on the joy of filling a stocking for the littlest of ones, here are some suggestions:
Age 6 months – 2 years
This is also an easy age. Practicality is the key!
Fisher Price Little People toys
Baby food/applesauce pouches
Tiny board books
Age 3 – 4 years
Toothbrush & toothpaste (I’m a fun mom)
Socks/hats/mittens (there’s a theme going on here)
Bathing products – soap, shampoo, bubbles
Christmas trinkets from $1 store/$1 aisle
Age 5 – 7 years
Blindbag toys (shopkins, littlest pet shop… those $4 that are sealed so you don’t know what you’re getting and you keep trying for those darn Super Rares)
More bathroom products
Age 8 – 12 years
It starts getting trickier to be cheap the older they get. Fortunately, at this age they likely have favorite things that hopefully need little accessories.
Hobby related items (paints & brushes for artists, legos for builders, comic books for comic book kids)
Age 13 – 15 years
I’m light years from dealing with this age as a parent, but this is what I would think would be appropriate.
Fancy lip gloss (EOS or other brands that seem grown-up (although I still love me a good Lip Smackers))
Bathroom products (at this age, you may be delving into the age of razor blade cartridges, which are not cheap and do count as good gifts because of that)
Age 16 – 18 years
Can parents do anything right at this age?
Bathroom Products (again) (but parents, let’s all agree that getting pads/tampons in a stocking is NOT cool)
Females over 18 years
Yes, I would still do a stocking for adult kids. Assuming my kid isn’t a butt head adult. #goals. But really – if you’re way into stockings and giving like I am, there’s no rule against doing stockings for adults. Here are some ideas that will vary in usage depending on your relationship with the adult.
“Expensive” chocolate – Lindt, Ferrero Rocher, Godiva… Nothing against Hershey’s, but I grew past that being acceptable gifting chocolate years ago.
Warm, fuzzy socks (getting someone pratical socks would be weird at this point. But those fuzzy ones for the winter – awesome giftage)
Planned out date night plans
Lotto Ticket scratchers
Tiny liquor bottles
Pens/stationery/washi tape if they’re into that.
Males over 18 years
This will again differ based on your relationship with the male. But in my research, I still believe that the key to men’s hearts is truly the stomach.
Tiny liquor bottles
Needed/wanted/nicer tools (do not be that person that gets a screw driver every year and winds up years later with a drawer full of nothing but screwdrivers) (although having one in each room of the house is sometimes more handy than you’d think)
Beard oil/grooming kit
Print outs of favorite pictures
Lotto ticket scratchers
Gloves/hats/mittens (switched it up on you!)
When all else fails, have fun with it! Gift giving shouldn’t be so serious. Sometimes the best thing to get a stodgy old adult is a good old slinky or yo yo to bring them back to their childhood for a moment. And who doesn’t enjoy a good whoopie cushion?
With the last of the turkey made into soup using the broth I made from the turkey carcass, I can officially call Thanksgiving DONE! And now I can say…
This is my favorite time of year, hands down. It takes everything I’ve got to put up Thanksgiving decorations after Halloween and not just go straight to Christmas. I revert back to my 6 year old self when it comes to December time, so to be able to hold it all together, I plan a bunch of fun Christmas related activities to last throughout the month.
December 1st is often kicked off with the start of an Advent calendar. Did anyone ever actually hold themselves to eating only one of those tiny little pieces of chocolate a day until Christmas? I never could as a kid, but my daughter has been pretty good at it so far. Anymore, there are a multitude of Advent calendars to choose from – you are no longer limited to that tiny square of chocolate wrenched out of it’s plastic shell. Here are some fun ideas for alternative Advent calendars, which range from cheap to pricey, and easy to involved. By creating your own calendar, or by purchasing a fun new kind of calendar, you can feel like a kid again experiencing something new each day of Christmas time!
Toy Advent Calendars
I don’t know if these are technically new, but I’ve noticed them more and more lately and actually bought one for this year. Advent calendars are available for sale by many different toy companies, like Playmobil, Lego, Disney, Fisher Price, Play Doh, and Barbie. While these are considerably more expensive than your $1 chocolate calendar, they do provide a longer lasting, tangible reward. The calendar I chose was a Playmobil Advent Calendar whose pieces add up to make a family Christmas scene. What I enjoy about that is that the pieces can become a part of our holiday decorations and come out year after year – IF my daughter doesn’t abscond them as part of her toy collection. Either way, it’s a fun way to see a scene build day after day and make the excitement last for 25 days, rather than 24 days of anticipation for 1 big day.
DIY Drink Advent Calendar
This calendar is definitely not for kids 😉 With the help of some PVC and spray paint from a hardware store, some Advent stickers from the Target Dollar Aisle, and many, many bottles from my local grocery store (Hy-Vee has a great selection of mix & match craft beer), you can put together an advent calendar that will bring 25 nights of deliciousness.
This calendar isn’t just limited to beer, either – mine contains craft & vintage sodas in glass bottles, as well. If you’re a fan of just one beer, you can certainly fill it with 25 of your faves.
To construct the tree, I had a 10ft section and a 2ft section of 3 inch diameter pvc cut into five inch sections. You’d think 5 inches into 10 feet would work out to not require so much extra, but when you account for the small amount removed from the cut itself, it adds up. Using PVC glue, the sections were attached together to form a Christmas tree shape, with 4 pipe sections at the base for the trunk. Spray paint added the festive colors.
Next, I used the advent stickers to top each bottle cap and loaded the tree up!
My husband is really looking forward to picking his bottle each morning and putting it into the fridge for a cold drink in the evening. It was really fun to put together as well. I’m not a beer drinker, so if I were to make one of these for myself, I’d have to get a much bigger diameter pipe to hold the wine bottle and would likely need rehab after the holiday season! But for someone that drinks an occasional beer here and there and likes to sample many different kinds, this is a fun gift to put together. I’ve paired with it a taste tracker so that he can remember which of the drinks he liked, and which weren’t as great.
Santa Beard Calendar
Who else remembers the advent calendars that soda companies gave out for free where you glued a cotton ball a day to Santa’s beard? I know they are truly a thing and not just my imagination, because I’ve met one other person who remembers this, and surely two people can’t be wrong!
I wanted to recreate that memory of my childhood, but also wanted it to be more permanent than a sheet of paper & cotton balls. With the help of a friend, I had a Santa head cut out of pine. Using Rustoleum Magnetic primer, I painted the bottom half of the santa head with two coats of the special paint. This paint is loaded with iron filings that make it magnetic upon drying. One drawback to this is that it is super expensive – so find a few friends that want to do this project along with you and split the cost.
After applying & drying the magnetic paint, I painted on a Santa face. You do not have to be an artist to do this if you have carbon paper – this was not free handed! Do not let this intimidate you. If you have a santa pic that you love, just use the carbon paper between your wood & print out to put the lines onto the santa to guide your painting. Instant artiste.
Finally, using some white pompoms scored from the quite successful Target Dollar Aisle and some glue & magnets, I made 25 beard balls (need a better name) that stick to the beard, despite my fears. Success! Instant Santa Beard Advent Calendar.
There was so much excitement that she couldn’t hold still for a second picture…
DIY Jar Advent Calendar
A pretty jar, some scraps of paper, and a pen make a really simple & quick advent calendar. Cut out 25 strips of paper and determine what you’d like to add to them each day. You can either start with 25 pre-filled items and pull one each day, or fill them out as you go and end up with 25 filled tags at the end of the day. Here are some ideas of what to write:
25 favorite Christmas memories
25 acts of kindness to perform during the holiday season
25 types of baked goodies to make (if you have all the time in the world to bake daily)
25 Christmas movies to watch
25 Christmas stories to read
25 Christmas songs to listen to
25 bible verses to read
25 Christmas themed activities to kill the time while you wait for the big man in the red hat
Have children write nice things about their siblings and read them each day until Christmas (you may want to pre-read these and remove the element of surprise)
Any combination of the above
Alternatively, you could use this as a perpetual advent calendar by reusing the same scraps over and over again. On each scrap, leave a lot of room for writing. When you draw a scrap for the day, write your best memory of that day. The next year, you start over with new memories being written right below the previous year’s memories. It’s a great way to keep a Christmas journal that you revisit year after year.
Envelope Advent Calendar
Similar to the jar calendar above, you can use an envelope to hold a daily treasure for the days leading up to Christmas. Fix your envelope to a cute bunting using some safety pins, or just tape them strategically around your home or on your fridge.
While not diet friendly, making 25 holiday crackers with your favorite holiday treat is easy if you can save 25 toilet paper, paper towel, or wrapping paper tubes. Simply fill them with your treat of choice and wrap them in some leftover wrapping paper scraps. Then hold yourself to only opening one per day!
Even though we now have a variety of advent calendars around the house to keep us busy until the big day, my daughter insists that she still needs the $1.99 chocolate advent calendar or her holiday will not be complete. There’s no pleasing some people! This is one craft project where you can let your imagination go wild and turn anything into a 25 day long activity that fits your family, home, style, tastes, and effort levels. Remember – putting together a red & green paper chain still counts as crafting!
Can anyone believe that Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away? I sure can’t! Maybe it’s the warm weather we’ve been having, which I loved at first, but I’m actually starting to want weather that is more fall like to get me into the holiday spirit.
At any rate, it is truly coming quickly. It’s not too late to create some easy, quick, and cheap décor for your home to help usher in that Thanksgiving feeling faster than a blobby cylinder of purple sour “cranberries” will. It’s another Dollar Tree Craft Challenge!
For this project, you will need:
Plain glass vase – or other vessel – from Dollar Tree
Tissue paper in fall colors – or colors of your choice – from Dollar Tree
Mod Podge – not from Dollar Tree, but a versatile supply that will be an investment in many craft projects. This should really be in every crafter’s tool box!
Brush to apply mod podge – this could come from Dollar Tree! I use the spongy brushes for this, but you could use a standard paint brush in any size just as easily.
To start, tear or cut your tissue paper into small bits no smaller than the size of a quarter, but no larger than the size of a post-it-note. You could really do them in any shape – if you like a more uniform look, cut them into squares. For a more random or unplanned look, rip the paper into different shapes. There are no rules in craft club. That’s not true. There are rules. But for this step, go wild.
To affix these to the outside of the vase, we will start by working in small sections to put a base layer of mod podge onto the vase. Mod podge does tend to dry quickly, so I work one piece at a time by putting down the mod podge in a layer that I think is the size of the piece of tissue paper, then putting the tissue paper down on it. Smooth any wrinkles out as much as you can, but tiny wrinkles here and there won’t impact the overall piece.
For my vase, since I had lost my yellow tissue paper somewhere so only ended up with red and orange. Because it was going to be difficult to really alternate two colors, I didn’t worry about placing a red next to a red or an orange next to an orange. So placement of colors/shapes of paper is entirely up to you as the artist. Depending on if you want a uniform piece, a random piece, or a logically random piece (red, orange, yellow, red, orange, yellow…), you will place your pieces how you like them. Don’t stress it, though. This is a Dollar Tree craft, after all! If you don’t like how it turns out, Goodwill it and head out for another $1 vase.
Once you have a section with a few pieces of tissue paper glued to the vase, go over these with a top coat of mod podge. This will put a good seal on the pieces, making them stick for a long, long time. Mod podge has different finishes – the product I was using has a matte finish, so I tried to keep my top coat thin to avoid having too much of a cloudy appearance once dry. Mod podge does dry mostly clear, but the thicker you put it on, the cloudier it is. I’ve never used a glossy mod podge, so if you use it, let me know what you think of it!
Repeat this process until your vase is as covered as you want it to be – base layer, tissue paper, mod podge! The tissue paper is great for this project because it’s thinness allows for a really great adhesion using less mod podge, and it also still allows for some light to shine through. Allow this to dry for at least 24 hours before handling or using.
I finished my vase with some fake flowers that I also got at Dollar Tree! For a $1, I think this looks pretty good!
Things that are coated with mod podge are not food safe, and not all finishes are water safe, either. I would also not recommend using mod podge for anything that will hold a candle or be near a flame as all glue finishes should be considered to be highly flammable. Here are a few alternatives if you were using this on something you hoped to be able to eat off of, wash, and/or use with a candle:
Food Safety: Mod Podge is non-toxic, but is not recommended for food touching surfaces as it would have to be tested and approved by the FDA to be considered food-safe. If you are doing a glass plate, mod podge your decorations to the BOTTOM of the plate so that the top can still be used for food. This would make a really cute charger or saucer!
Waterproof-ness? (not a word…) Mod Podge is not water proof. That said, you can get items wet by accident and not lose hope. You can even clean items that have been sealed with mod podge with a lightly dampened rag. But I wouldn’t submerge anything that’s been Mod Podged in water. There is an Outdoor Mod Podge and a Dishwasher Safe Mod-Podge, however, even the outdoor mod podge is not water-proof and is water-resistant. Using the outdoor version would be your best defense if what you’re making will be in wet elements, but it’s still not fool-proof. I have not personally used the Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge to be able to recommend it or not, so if you have, please share with me your thoughts!
Flammability – I always assume anything that has glue or sealant or paint to be highly flammable. Actually, I assume EVERYTHING to be highly flammable. Thankfully modern technology has come up with flameless candles – which are basically tiny flashlights that look like tea lights or other candles. I like using these as much as possible when decorating as I don’t have to worry about the cats starting their tails on fire or my daughter starting herself on fire, or falling asleep without remembering to put them out. This vase would look really pretty with the glow of a flameless candle coming out from it!
Happy HALLOWEEN! For me, the entire month of October is Halloween. I don’t know why I love Halloween so much – I’m not really into scary things, and not at all into the occult, but for some reason, at the end of summer, I can’t wait to start seeing cute skeletons and pumpkins and witches and ghosts all over the place!
Holiday decorations can get expensive fast, so I wanted to attempt to get creative with some cheap items this year. And what better place to get cheap items than the Dollar Tree! Everything I’ve made here is a combo of random scrap pieces around the house and Dollar Tree items.
My first project was inspired when I saw packages of colored, sparkly “tube.” The package even showed a neat wreath you could make with them. SOLD! I added in some spiders for spooky effect.
However, when I actually got the tube home and opened the package, I found out that the materials were just a small piece of what you’d need to make a wreath, and I found out after handling them that they were a stupid piece of that wreath, and if you tried to augment them in any way by opening them up and making them not-a-tube, they fell apart. Sigh.
Not one to be discouraged for long, I got creative and grabbed an old beat up piece of wood from the garage.
Look – free spiderwebs already!
I started gluing the tubing down in a random mess, hoping to make something that looked like a really colorful spiderweb out of it.
After adding my spiders – and some leftover Halloween colored tulle tied in a bow, I came up with…
… the ugliest thing I had ever seen. It was part modern art, part huge failure. I wanted to share it with you though so that you see that not all crafters are prefect – we just tend to hide the bad projects and not talk about them. Not me – I’m putting it out there for all to see!
I did rescue it – by tearing off the awful tube-y stuff and replacing it with some Dollar Tree fake spiderwebs.
Not terrible! The wood was technically free since it was in my garage, and the tulle was leftover from another project, so for this project, free. So in total, I spent $2 on what is shown above ($5 if you count the original purchase of worthless tube stuff), and the cost of the hot glue used to attach.
You can also get some really cheap glassware items from the Dollar Tree, including some very generic looking glass vases. Glass also takes extremely well to spray paint, so you can easily customize some glass pieces with different colors of paint. In a previous year, I took some empty glass bottles and sprayed them with stripes of white, orange, and yellow, to look like candy corn!
This year, I took my hot glue gun and put a spiderweb like pattern of glue on the vase. Once that dried, I covered it with black spray paint for a shiny, black spiderweb vase. The flowers added into it later were not from the Dollar Tree; however, they do sell fake flowers that could also be spray painted into Halloween colors.
It’s a bit hard to really show off the spiderweb in photos thanks to the shine in the vase, but it’s a really neat way to dress up a cheap vase. You could also use hot glue as a sort of negative and peel it off after spray painting; however, if doing this, I would do a base color under the glue as it might be hard to see the clear space below with black showing through from the back of the vase. This would also be a great way to make some jack-o-lantern vases by using orange spray paint as the top coat and using the glue to shape out the face cut-outs; afterwards you could go over the face cut outs either by hand or by spraying the inside of the vase black (I would be cautious about spraying the outside black first and then trying to cover with orange. It could work, but it might take a lot of orange to cover the black!). Remember always to use a lot of ventilation when spray-painting. The fumes can get to you really quickly and it’s quite flammable as well. My grass with it’s many outlines from spray painting projects can attest to being a great place to use spray paint!
Decorating for the holidays does not have to be an expensive feat – it can be done cheaply with a little imagination, hot glue, spray paint, and being okay with having a few failures here & there!
This year, my daughter, who turned four in October, attended her first year of preschool at our neighborhood public elementary school. She LOVES it. I cannot capitalize those letters enough to really portray how much she loves it. Pink puffy hearts and sparkles love. She has one more year of preschool to go before she goes to kindergarten in fall of 2017 – next year’s preschool will be FULL DAY – no more “afternoon kids” as she refers to them. Continue reading →
I love New Orleans, and I LOVE Mardi Gras! The music! The food! The drinks! The parades! The balls! The food! The music! The drinks! The food! The drinks! The culture!
I may have repeated some of those, but they are worth repeating. I can feel see myself standing in line at Cafe du Monde for some dark chicory coffee and some fresh, hot beignets. It feels right. It feels like it could be part of my every Saturday morning routine. I’m a regular here. At night, drinking a hurricane and listening to the zydeco music while dancing on Burbon Street… Continue reading →