When my husband and I were discussing the possibility of me leaving the workforce to become a single income family, it was very scary, financially. My income was an important contribution to our family’s finances, but after the birth of our third child I really wanted to spend time home with the kids.
Little did I know at that time, I’d find a number of ways to add to the family’s income, beyond the contribution a stay at home mom makes in the day to day work she does for her own family.
Today I’m going to show you how I earn $500 per month in my spare time and how I hope to triple that in 2017. I plan to revisit these strategies later this year to update readers on my progress so you can use these for yourself.
Today’s post is a a simple trash-to-treasure thrift upcycle. When I spotted these old Party Lite ceramic houses at the thrift store, I saw potential and snapped them up. But now, I’m second guessing my plan and need your crafty/decor advice!
Upcycling Baby Clothes and the Art of (Not) Letting Go
I have a confession: I have an unreasonably hard time parting with my kids’ baby clothes. For reference, my “baby” is 3 years old, and I haven’t thrown anything away that hasn’t been irreparably stained or damaged. I have a problem letting go.
I’m back – with more birthday party inspiration! My big girl is turned 6 years old which means she got to have her first friends party – and has had her heart set on a pool party for, like, ever. She seems to have inherited the party planning gene, dictating #allthethings that had to happen for her party. Her favorite colors are bold and bright, so the theme morphed into a Malibu Barbie inspired vibe.
Here are six budget-saving areas I used to design a custom birthday bash on a budget of around $50:
Set the Tone with an Eye-Catching Tablescape
My favorite tip for creating a custom look is creating an eye-catching tablescape that guests will see when they enter the party.
This whole tablescape was set using inexpensive supplies that, when layered, created a big impact.
I purchased several plastic tablecloths that I cut into scallops and layered for an ombre effect, and finished the look with a few draped leis and netting. Total cost: $7
It’ s been awhile since I’ve shared on the blog. I ran out of steam there for awhile, but I’m back with a project I’ve been planning for some time, and finally got around to: my self serve sign for the kitchen.
We’re slowly but surely making some changes to our builder grade home, like a new back splash that we love. Still, I thought the kitchen needed a little more character.
This summer I picked up this vintage doll house from the thrift store for a few dollars. I can’t explain why I picked it up, but I was thrilled with the find. So, what to do with a 1940’s era doll house in disrepair? I originally had delusions of restoring it, because it certainly had charm. However, once I started trying to do some touch ups I was faced with the reality that this baby needed a complete overhaul.
Looking for a way to upcycle those baby clothes you can’t part with? When Dub lost his first loose tooth, I decided to use his baby clothes to create a tooth pillow – a tradition my parents started with me. The concept is that the tooth pillow makes it easy for the Tooth Fairy to find baby teeth and deposit money (I’ve heard she hates to loose those first baby teeth!).
To make the pillow, I combined a chambray shirt and a little plaid shirt, with snap button pockets, that Dub wore as a baby. He actually helped me dig through his baby clothes to find just the right combo.
Here he is at just 3 months old sporting one of the shirts.
My mom used her fancy sewing machine to embroider some letters and voila! An easy, free tooth pillow that he absolutely loves.
Recycle T-shrts to make an Adorable, comfy Disney princess dress
I’ve had this project stuck in my head for a long time, and when I scheduled a visit to my parents’ house this month I knew it was my opportunity to bring it to life. My mom is a professional quilter and a wonderful seamstress, and I knew I would need her to lead the way.
I’d seen the concept of a t-shirt Disney princess dress on Homemade by Jill, but little EClaire already had a Belle dress up costume and wanted something different. So, enlisting one of her favorite colors, I decided on a Sleeping Beauty dress and found this one by Crafter Hours.
I thought it would surely be a one day project, and it probably was for these sewing pros, but we managed to stretch it out over three days, working probably a total of 10 hours.
First, we started with two women’s tees and large knit nightgown. We used the Simplicity pattern 5695 for the bodice and sleeves. Since we were upcycling clothing, we were able to use the original seam as the casing for the elastic on the sleeves.
We used a 10″ circle to draw and then sew two lines to emulate a bodice piece, and then sewed a straight line down the middle.
We wanted a very full skirt, which is difficult to create using knits, but I like how ours turned out. Our skirt used the full width of the large nightgown, which was approximately 32″ across (double the width of our bodice) and 64″ of full width all the way around. She sewed a long straight stitch across the top and then gently pulled it all around to ruffle it. Then, we attached the ruffled piece to the bodice and sewed it together with a tight straight stitch.
To create a bustle effect, we measured all the way around the bottom of the skirt and marked 9″ high lines every 8″ around. I sewed two long straight stitch lines at every marked line, secured the top and bottom of those lines with pins, and then begin pulling the strings from the top to scrunch the fabric (I like this tutorial for gathering fabric). Then, when we had the fabric scrunched to the right length, we put stabilizing fabric underneath and sewed right over the fabric, in between the two stitched lines. I absolutely love this detail of the dress – it really made the whole thing come together!
My mother created the white accent pieces using this pattern and by sewing square pieces of white knit into triangles. Both accent pieces were tacked on, as she felt the thickness would be too much for the knit dress to handle long-term.
I love that she’ll be able to wear this any time she wants to feel like a princess, and it’s cool and comfortable enough for everyday wear. Best of all – she absolutely loves it!
I’m not sure if I would have the skill to pull this off on my own and have it look as nice as this dress does. Maybe I can enlist my mother to create a Snow White tee, or Rapunzel, Cinderella or Elsa dress down the road? I think I’ll wait for some time to pass before I ask…
My baby girl just turned one and because her birthday is exactly a week after Dub’s, I’ll admit I ran out of steam on the party planning. However, I wanted to do something special and celebrate as a family, and was able to put together a cute Bow Birthday theme really inexpensively.
To keep birthday party planning expenses manageable, we buy a few essentials that we reuse year after year.
My Special Day chair covers that we reuse for birthdays, first days of school, and any day we want to recognize and celebrate each child individually.
Additionally, we always save leftover party supplies such as napkins, plates and plastic cutlery and every few years we find we don’t have to buy these supplies at all because of that stash. That was the case for baby ‘Belle’s party.
For the cupcakes, I whipped up a batch of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes and frosted them in pink and white buttercream frosting. I wanted them to carry out the bow theme, but because I’m lacking in fondant skills I purchased these toppers. You can find similar fondant bows here and here.
We served homemade vanilla ice cream and a simple punch using 7-Up and raspberry sherbet.
With just two inexpensive plastic tablecloths from the dollar store, I made this impressive table centerpiece by using one tablecloth as usual, and using the other as a decorative sash by draping it across the front and simply pinching it in the middle. I actually unfolded some of the party napkins and fashioned a bow out of them – one napkin for each side of the bow, and two for the tails. Surprisingly beautiful, easy and inexpensive!
Next, I made bow napkin rings – I love how these turned out! I bought rectangle shaped napkins, but you could also do this by folding traditional napkins in half. Simply pinch them in the middle, place them on top of your cutlery and wrap a small band of paper around the bow, secured with tape.
As I mentioned earlier, I used leftover napkins to make the bow you see on the front of the table to carry the theme through.
I took a little photo shoot of baby ‘Belle sporting her birthday bow. I’d say the cupcakes were a hit!
Like the ideas you see here? Be sure to follow my birthday party inspiration board and subscribe below to keep partying with me!
Looking for more inspiration? You might like these parties: