Low Cost Creativity

by Tchikima Davis

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Last year alone, people spent 3.6 billion dollars on craft supplies at Michaels Arts and Crafts stores and 1 billion at Hobby Lobby stores. It's no wonder that craft stores make so much money when you consider how expensive some of those supplies are. That is why we get creative not only with our projects, but with our supplies. And just by reading this quick guide, you can too.

  • Go to garage sales. They don't always have craft supplies, but you can usually find puzzles, cards, or fabric that can be glued or painted in any number of ways.
  • Ask stores for throw away items. Michaels throws away entire boxes of slightly damaged craft supplies, and sometimes they will give them to you. You can also go to Home Depot and ask for old carpet swatches. The swatches are usually less than one-foot square, so you'll have to get creative on how to use them, perhaps gluing them to tables or chairs.
  • Use what nature gave you. Rocks are always fun to paint on, but we also like painting on leaves or using twigs to decorate picture frames.
  • Recycle. I try to not throw away anything that can be used for crafts, and yes, I have a lot of stuff lying around. What might be considered trash to someone else could make a great craft project for your kids. Some of our favorites are pencil holders made from Pringles cans and painted Popsicle boxes that hold books.
  • Reuse household items. Every year, we buy new calendars and use the old pictures to decorate the walls or make a book cover. It's great because we still get to look at our favorite pictures from over the years.
  • Keep old photos. So maybe you blinked when the flash went off and your face looks like a raspberry from yesterday's sunburn. That's no excuse for throwing out perfectly good colored photo paper. We just chop up the pictures into little squares and make collages. No one will ever know what the picture was of.
  • Think of everything as a craft. Paint on everything. Puzzle pieces, mouse pads, folders, paper bags, or even eggs can be painted on.
  • Get crafty with food. You already bought it and you're going to eat it, so why not have fun with it first? You can let the kids use cookie cutters to make shapes out of fruit or lay out veggies so that they form a design on a plate.

Tchikima Davis lives in Colorado with her husband where she teaches arts and crafts classes and writes. She recently received her degree in art and psychology and has been studying human development in an effort to understand children and teen interests.

Take the Next Step

  • For more creative ideas, check out our craft project page
  • Before you throw anything away, try to think of some way you can use it creatively. And don't forget to keep your eyes open at garage sales for craft supplies. You never know what treasure you'll find.

Take the Next Step:

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