$4 Decorating at the Dollar Tree: Autumn Candles

Looking to level-up your decor with a project that helps you flex your creative muscle without breaking the bank or sacrificing all your free time? Here’s a quick, easy, cheap project just for you!

Halloween Candles_5

I got all of this at the Dollar Tree:

  • Two glass jars – these are definitely seasonal. They have a bunch of different colors, too!
  • A 2-pack of tapered candles – again, there are a bunch of different colors.
  • Popcorn – in a bag like this NOT a microwavable one! The last thing you want for this is buttery, salty popcorn kernels…
  • Two Dixie cups – I had these in my bathroom. Any cups will work as long as they can fit in the jars you chose and don’t quite reach the rim of it. You could also cut down larger paper/plastic/styrofoam cups.
  • An exacto knife – if you don’t have one, get one! Every crafter should own one. That said, a regular knife or a sharp pair of scissors will work in a pinch.

Total material cost: 4 bucks – heck yeah.

Halloween Candles_41. Cut a hole in the bottom or each dixie cup the same size as the diameter of the candle. I marked it with a pen, first. If you only have a knife, you should be able to simply cut an X in the top and slide the candle into it, but it won’t hold quite as well.Halloween Candles_32. Place the dixie cup with the candle in it into the jar and fill the jar with popcorn. The popcorn will help keep the candle upright and the dixie cup will help take up some space in the jar so you don’t need quite so many kernels. I used about 2/3 of the popcorn bag for this whole project. Halloween Candles_1

3. … actually that’s it. Honestly I planned to get a clear glass jar and some ribbon to decorate these myself, but I found the pre-decorated jars instead and I just couldn’t pass them up! They’re so pretty and festive!

Easy 2 -step DIY for making some inexpensive autumn decor!

Honestly the best part of having my own house is getting to decorate it! Plus I don’t have 50 years worth of decorations stocked up like my parents (as people tend to when they’ve been decorating for many holidays over the years) so we kinda need decorations, too!

I hope you also enjoy this picture of my entirely monochromatic dining room… we’re planning to paint that soon 😉

Warmly,

EGinny

Gender Reveal Party on a Budget – Everything from Snacks to Games to the WOW

I LOVE hosting parties! I also hate going to parties… figure that one out. 

There’s something about decorating the house in a special way, having an excuse to make delicious food, and ironing out all the little details that is just addicting to me. Even better than planning any random party, is planning one for someone else! It’s fun to be able to honor someone with your time and efforts with something they’ll remember for years to come. 

That’s why when my sister-in-law, Ari, found out she was pregnant, I demanded that I get to throw her gender reveal party. The baby was going to be my first nephew (since I wasn’t married at the time) so I really wanted to do this for them. 

There was one problem:

I’m a broke bitch on a budget. 

That said, I’m very good at being one of those! 

FULL DISCLOSURE: at the time, my boyfriend, brother, and his pregnant wife all lived with my grandparents. If you’re interested in hearing about that Brady Bunch let me know, I’m happy to share, but mostly that means that the party was in my grandparent’s house, too – hence the dark paneling and less-than modern decor. I think it’s the kind of interior design you only love when you love the people who designed it…

ALSO: my brother and his wife’s last name is Green, so I used a lot of pink, blue, and green for gender neutral. I suggest picking out a neutral color for your party (green, yellow, orange, etc.) as well because it helped even the playing field and keep me from revealing anything I didn’t mean to, like using way too much blue (spoiler alert).

The Mom-osa bar

If there’s one thing I know about Ari, it’s that she always loves a good mimosa. Obviously mimosas were out of the question (Here you go Ari, a mimosa bar that everyone gets to enjoy except you because you’re pregnant!) but isn’t the actual point of a mimosa the fact that it just tastes like juice, anyway?

This was the most expensive part of the party which was maybe: 

  • Drinkwear – $5
  • Sparkling cider – $16
  • Fruit Bowls – $2
  • Plates – $2
  • Plasticwear – $3
  • Napkins – $2
  • Table Cloth – $1
  • Fruit – $20 (I probably could have gone way cheaper on this)
  • Drinks – $5
  • Glass Pitchers – $15

Grand Total: $71

I also made cupcakes for funsies, but I didn’t factor that into the cost. I made vanilla cupcakes with green frosting and blue filling (spoiler alert, again) to eat AFTER the reveal.

Baby shower table spread with a mom-osa bar, pink and blue Dollar Tree utensils, and pink and blue ornaments.

I didn’t provide any actual food since Ari’s mother requested to bring some (and she’s an awesome cook so no complaining here!) Having some real food was definitely a bonus.

The Craft

This has dual purposes:

  1. A gift for the new parents
  2. Something to do for the guests

This onesie idea was on Pinterest and it was a no-brainer for me! 

  • Onesies – $10
  • Sign paper – ?? I’ve had this paper for a long time just waiting for a reason to use it!
  • Fabric markers – $32 ($16) I knew these markers would be getting a lot of love even after the event, so I wanted to get as many colors as I could! I should slash that $32 though because I use Michael’s Craft Store coupons (if you don’t, it’s a necessity) and with the average 50% off of a full-priced item, I got it for, well, half price! Super worth it.
Baby's first onesie decorating station.

The Puzzles

The puzzles are an excellent way to keep people occupied – especially people who might not know many other people or are feeling shy. I pulled the puzzles from all over, there are a lot of them online that people make and give away for free. I pulled a bunch then added matching borders so that they all looked cohesive. The games I chose were:

  • Word Search
  • Word Scramble
  • Nursery Rhyme Rhetoric
  • Baby Animal Match
  • Candy Concentration
  • Unscramble
  • Crossword
  • Celebrity Baby Name Match (a must, some celebrities chose some… interesting names for their kids!)
Baby shower printable games and puzzles hanging on a line to be taken and used.

If anyone is interested in matching gender reveal party game packets, let me know. I don’t want to post the ones I used because since they were only for personal use and are largely taken from other people, but I can certainly make some from scratch that match! Rhyme not definitely intended.

The Social Game

This game is good for getting people talking. Ari requested this one specifically and I can see why. Everyone who comes puts on the necklace of what they think the child would be, pink for girl and blue for boy! That said, I noticed that some people were uncomfortable with this game… there was a feeling of, “if I choose a pink necklace and the baby’s a boy, others will think that I’m disappointed”. That’s not necessarily true of course, but a lot of people just put on one of each necklace.

Pink and blue beaded necklaces for guests to wear as their guess - girl or boy.

The Baby-Centric Decor

I put up two things for guests to look at that put all of the focus on the pregnant mama. The first was, of course, the sonograms. They way they ended up on the wall kinda looks like a cross, but that’s just how it worked out. I also hung their most recent sonograms but covered them until after the reveal just in case anyone could read them! The second was a posted displaying Ari’s answers to old wives’ tales. There are a lot of fun ways to guess the gender of your baby, ways that people used to swear by! Now, of course, most of them are deemed to be pretty silly, but that’s why they’re fun! Here’s an example of a site with old wives’ tales you can test out. These are good conversation starters.

Old Wives Tales poster and sonogram pictures

The Details

I didn’t go too crazy on the details, but I wanted to do a couple fun little things.

For decorations, I found some clear ornaments at the Dollar Tree and filled them with some pink and blue Easter basket filler and hung them on the chandelier above the food table.

Dollar Tree pink and blue ornaments hanging on a chandelier.

The other little detail was for Adam and Ari’s first born – their dog, Riley. They adore their dog and since he was going to be there, I made him a special little bow to celebrate the occasion. I took lots of pictures as I did it so I can do a DIY later!

Pink and blue ribbon bow for the family dog.
And yes, I bought that ribbon at the Dollar Tree

The Box

The most important part! This gender reveal was during the winter so they wanted it indoors, but they still wanted the “hoo-rah” of a flashy opening! They decided they wanted a balloon-in-the-box style reveal. This box was SO easy to make!

Materials:

  • 6 sheets of foam board
  • Wrapping paper
  • A Bow
  • Balloons
  • Scissors
  • Tape

I bought all of this at the dollar tree so it was about $16 including the balloons.

To make the box, simply lay all four pieces of foam board next to each other and tape them all in a line. NOTE: leave about ⅛” between each piece, this will leave room for the material thickness so it will fold nicely.

Fold the pieces up to make 4 sides of the box and tape it together. Put the box you just made on top of another piece of foam board and mark the edges of it. Since you used full sheets of foam board to make the first 4 sides, you should only need to make one cut on the 5th side to make it a square that will fit the bottom of the box. BEFORE you tape the bottom on, use that to measure your top piece out of the 6th piece of foam board. Tape the bottom on. 

Wrap the whole box like a present. Then when it comes to folding the 6th side (which is currently missing) simply fold the paper into the box. Wrap the lid. On a separate, large sheet of paper, write (or have the mama/daddy write) what the gender is! Glue of tape that onto one side of the lid. Tape the lid onto the rest of the box on only one side, ensuring that the hinge is at the bottom of the lid so that when it’s flipped up, the words are rightside up.

The box is done! Decorate as desired, of course!

Once you get the balloons, organize them how you want them (I did three tiers of four balloons, then three, then one) and tape their strings together that way. After that, you can tape them to the bottom of the box so that they float out nicely.

If you just try to close the lid, odds are that the balloons will push the lid open. To prevent that, make a tearable tape lock: tape the box shut with just a little bit of clear tape (masking tape if you think the paper will rip) and before you tape down both ends of the tape, fold one end over to make a tab. The tab will be easy for mommy and daddy to grab and remove before the reveal.

The gender reveal box sits between pink and blue balloons and tissue paper flowers.

D’aww so cute!

Also fun fact, the box can fit a small child. If he were the brother it would have been SUCH a cute photo opportunity! Even though he’s not, still cute.

Warmly,

EGinny

Keeping Your Drains Clean with Almost No Effort: A Dollar Store DIY

The Problem:

Ew.

I’ve always lived with at least one other luxuriously haired female, so post-shower there’s at least this big of a nasty nest. 

The Solution:

A new shower accessory to be able to easily pick up the hair that’s keeping your shower water from draining

I’d argue that picking up matted, soapy, goopy hair from the drain is akin to picking the food remains out of a kitchen sink with no garbage disposal. Gross.

Step 1:

Remove the label from your bottle. Goo Gone!! I love this stuff. Just rub it onto whatever’s gooey and it will come off! If it’s not working, let it sit for a bit and it will work. It’s really mild so you can get it all over your hands no problem (some dish soap cleans it off). Fun fact: back in fourth grade I managed to work a ton of tree sap into my hair (don’t ask, I was a wild child) but after shampooing my hair with this awesome stuff, I got to keep my hair.

Step 2:

Cut the top off. I used an exacto knife, pressing in gently to I could control it better for the first round, then used the channel I made to push the blade in harder and get a cleaner cut. Once it’s cut out, sand it down until it’s nice and flat. To make a nice finish, take your lighter to it, waving it over the cut plastic quickly to melt the sanded bits until they’re smooth. I’ll go over that a bit more later.

Step 3:

When you look at your bottle, you’ll see two seams, one that goes down either side of the bottle. Those are the parting lines from manufacturing, but they work as great guides now! Measuring from the hole in the top that you just cut and down the seam, mark out three inches. Don’t worry about getting too much sharpie on it, we’ll clean that off later. The second two measurements will go from that same hole, but down the front and the back and will be .75”. If your bottle is different than mine you might need to fudge those numbers.

Step 4:

Connect the marks you just made as depicted below (the top is already cut off). Again, don’t worry about getting sharpie everywhere, we’ll get it off later. You’ll want to start with an exacto knife because you don’t want to damage the top or bottom piece, but once you can get your scissors in there, I found them to be an easier option.

Getting Nice Edges

Simply take some sandpaper to the rough edge until the curve is how you like it, then make quick passes under it with a lighter. Holding the lighter under it will melt the edges quickly, so just let the flame kiss the edge before pulling it back out.

Step 4:

Cut the “holder” half into the shape you like. I made two different holders because I wasn’t sure which I preferred, so I’ll give you the option to make your own choice!

If you want to show the tweezers like this…

Simply extend one of the drooping sides all the way around the other side in a large curve. I like this one because I thought the curves of the tweezers and the curve of the holder’s droop looked kind of artsy.

If you want to hide the tweezers like this…

Put the tweezers into the holder then hold it up to a light source. Put your finger down until it touches the top of the tweezers and mark where that is. Extend that mark in a straight line across the front and then up to the top in a small curve. I like this one because it totally hides their tweezers, concealing what it does and the grossness it holds.

Step 6:

If you just bought the suction cups, you can definitely fudge this. However if you bought them on something like I did, you can use the other product to help you on this next step. See how the suction cups were attached with that snowman shaped hole? We’re gonna do that on our hair holder. 

To get the shape, I did a rubbing just like we used to do in grade school! Any colored pencil/graphite pencil (mechanicals will work, but are more difficult) will work for this.

Cut out the shape and mark around where you want it on the holder. Make sure the smaller circle is on top! Then cut out the shape.

Step 7:

Mark where you want some drain holes on the bottom. Heat up your soldering iron and simply poke it through! Slow and steady wins the race here guys, give the heat time to melt the plastic, don’t shove it through too hard.

And those melted rings you have when you’re done? An exacto takes those off nicely.

My Dirty Little Secret:

I took this picture toward the end of the project, but see that big ugly hole? That was my first attempt to use a dremmel to make the holes. The plastic was too slippery and there was nowhere good to hold it so it got caught and the drill bit ate up the plastic… not so pretty! The soldering iron was much easier and safer!

Getting off extra sharpie and burn marks

LOOK AT THIS MAGIC, Goo Gone guys, it’s a beautiful thing! Just dab a bit on a paper towel and rub off the gunk.

Step 8:

Make some hot glue gun designs on the sides of the tweezers for some grip, showers are slippery! The put some glue on the inside of the tweezers so it can help grip the hair as well.

Step 9:

Let’s decorate! I used a marbling technique I’ll show you here.

This is where you’ll use the saran wrap covered bowl (to keep the bowl from getting ruined) along with a few different nail polish colors (dealer’s choice).

Fill the bowl with some room temperature water, then dump little bits of nail polish into it. If the water is too hot or too cold, the nail polish will dry quicker. If you’ve ever done your nails this way and want to use a toothpick to make some cool designs, it will work beautifully here! I opted to simply do the nail polish blotches which come out looking kind of like marble. 

Simply dip your holder into the water at an angle, then pull it back out, that’s it! It will take some time to dry, but not too long.

The holes you just made will probably be coated in nail polish, but a toothpick or pin will clean them out nicely.

Now you can clean up that nasty hair without even having to touch it! And before your family yells at you… again…

Warmly,

EGinny