Miscellaneous Mini Projects

Okay, this isn’t a single project or a DIY tutorial, just a conglomeration of the other stuff I used to decorate, most of which I already had or was left over from another project.

You’ve already seen my Fall Leaf Garland, but the other part of the picture below is my red candles.  They came in a two-pack at the Dollar Tree, and each candle holder was also $1, so that’s $3 for those.

The sunflowers were left over from my Fall Ribbon Wreath, and the bud vase I had on hand.  The roses were left over from hair pieces I made for a group in last year’s Nutcracker production, and I scavenged the leaves last year from decorations my mom no longer uses.  The mason jars were on hand too.

Originally I was going to fill the jars with small nuts, or dried corn kernels, or something like that, but it’s too early to go scavenging for fallen acorns and I never got around to looking at the store, so I found a jar of dried rose leaves (collected over the years from dance recitals and so forth) and used that instead.  That makes the total amount I spent on flower arrangements $0.


I found this pumpkin thing last year at Walmart for $8.  They had at least three different designs of this thing. I had real votive candles in it before, but when I put it on my hutch I thought floralytes would be safer.  I found them at a dollar store in a 3-pack.  The leaves were more of what I had on hand or leftover from previous flower arrangements.  Total for this piece: $9.


Last, I got these candles at the Dollar Tree for $1 each – they are vanilla-scented so I figure I can use them for multiple seasons.

I was going to put them in mason jars also but they were too big!  So I was going to take them back and get smaller candles, but then I thought they might look nice in my candy dishes.  They used to be my grandma’s . I put more dried roses around them and I thought they looked pretty nice.  Total for these pieces: $3.

Five mini-projects (if you count the flower arrangements as two), and the total I spent on them was $15.  The best way to save money on decorating is to find new ways to use the old stuff you already have.


Fall Leaf Garland


A big, beautiful garland is a great way to decorate your mantel, banister, balcony, or (if you don’t have any of those things) hutch.  Buying one can cost close to $30 plus shipping at Afloral (my favorite place to buy silk flowers online) or as much as $80 at Hobby Lobby (which, FYI, has very reasonable shipping prices, last time I checked).  I made mine for $13 thanks to a great tutorial I found on Pinterest.  And I didn’t even have to buy grapevine.





Unlike most of the other DIY garlands I looked up, this one is full, lush, and looks realistic – and it is a cinch to make!



You can click the link under the picture for the tutorial, or you can just read on.


You will need:


– fake leaves (make sure they are the kind with a hole in the stem – see picture below) – I used four bunches that I found at Walmart for $3 each

– twine or yarn

– large-ish needle (it has to be large enough to accommodate your twine/yarn, but small enough to go through the hole in the leaf stems without pulling on the plastic)

– any embellishments you want – I used pinecones from my mom’s backyard and some little foam vegetable things from the Dollar Tree ($1 pack of 5 vegetables)


Sorry for the blurriness, but hopefully you can see the hole in between the leaf stems – this is what you need because it’s how you thread the leaves on the garland.


Step 1.  Measure your yarn (or twine) – I made my garland about 3 yards long – thread your needle, and knot it.  Make sure the knot is large enough that the leaves won’t slip off the end.


Step 2.  Take the leaves off their bunches and start threading.  I had two different colored bunches – a yellowish-greenish-brownish bunch and a reddish-orangeish-yellowish bunch – so I alternated.



Step 3.  Keep going until you run out of leaves.  Really, it’s that simple.


This is the point at which I diverged from the tutorial.  The tutorial above was, strictly speaking, for a garland to put on the outside of a house.  Mine was to put on top of my hutch (someday mantel, I hope), and I noticed that when I strung the leaves tightly together until the stems touched, the resulting garland was very, very thick:


Not only did that mean I would need more leaves to make my 9′ garland (remember, the goal here was to save money), but I wasn’t sure it would lay right on my hutch.  So I just spread the leaves out a little.



It may not look like it in the picture, but I thought it looked better.  So I kept working that way until I was out of leaves.



Step 4.  Add your embellishments.  I used Tacky Glue to add my pinecones directly to the yarn, but to glue the little vegetables to the leaves, hot glue is a better option.  I also coated my vegetables in Mod Podge and sprinkled them with green glitter for a little sparkle.



I’m very proud of my garland!  And it was so easy to make, there’s no reason why you couldn’t do it too!







Seasonal Block Letters

UPDATE:  I did another set of these for my mom, and they turned out (I think) a lot nicer than the ones I did for myself.  I might redo mine sometime.





I love the trend of using words to decorate!  I wanted to include some in my fall decorating, but I also wanted to save money.  I made my blocks for free using materials I had on hand.



I found these pictures (among others) on Pinterest:



(found on Pinterest)

These things are all over the place; I’m sure you’ve seen similar things before.  I wanted to recreate a similar look, but without using a lot of money (or power tools).



You will need:

– wooden blocks (the number depends on what words you’re writing)

– paint

– paintbrush

– Sharpie (or a small paintbrush if you are painting the letters on)

– stencils (optional – see Improvements)

– Mod Podge


At first I thought of putting letters on mason jars.  Then I remembered that my mom had a ton of wooden blocks sitting up in her attic that haven’t been used since we were little kids.  They were already sanded and there were several of the same size.  My mom said I could take as many as I wanted.  I picked out a few different sizes.  My idea was to write letters on the front and back of each block, so that I could turn them around to go with a different season (in this case, Thanksgiving and Christmas).


After rinsing off the dust, I painted one side of each block.  I wanted to use two different colors.






They dried pretty quickly in the sun.  I painted the opposite side as well.  Then I did another coat of each color because these particular blocks absorbed a lot of the paint.


I did the letters freehand (see below for Improvements).  Before writing the letters, I had printed them out so I had a sample of the font I wanted to use.  On most of them I just used a Sharpie.


(These are the blocks that I planned to write on both sides of)


(I’ve only done one side of these but I’ll probably add another side later on)


I used paint for the second side of my larger blocks.



After they were dry, I just finished them off with a coat of Mod Podge.  And that was it!






The most obvious way to take these blocks a step up is to use a stencil for the letters.  I have another set of blocks that I’m going to make for my mom, so I’ll try that with them.


If you’re really good with a paintbrush, you can also embellish the background of your blocks so it’s not just a solid color.


If you have cubes, and you want to go for maximum versatility, I bet you could recreate these blocks which can be made to spell 16 different seasonal words!  (The link isn’t a tutorial, but it pretty much tells you how to do it).  I might try it myself!

Tissue Paper Pumpkins

Holidays are all about people coming together, and one of my favorite parts of decorating is sharing ideas with other people.  I got the idea for this project from a total stranger in Walmart!  Thank you!


While browsing Pinterest (again) for decorating ideas, I came across a site that has 50 (count ’em) pumpkin crafts – basically 50 different ways to make pumpkins out of things that are not pumpkins.  This one was my favorite:



This project uses fabric to create the look of a pumpkin.  It’s a fairly inexpensive project (if you can find large quilting squares for a good price), but while I was looking for fabric squares at Walmart and telling my mom about this project, a lady in the same aisle said she’d seen the same craft done with tissue paper – much cheaper!  I thanked her and switched gears.  Thanks to her, I was able to recreate this craft for free.



For each pumpkin, you will need:

– 1 roll of toilet paper (the larger the better)

– 1 sheet of orange tissue paper

– green tissue paper

– brown paper (a brown paper bag works)

– Scotch or double-stick tape


My mom supplied the orange tissue paper (she’s a schoolteacher so there is lots of tissue paper at her school) and brown paper bag, but I already had the rest of the supplies.  You might have everything you need lying around your house, especially if you are the kind of person who saves tissue paper after opening presents.


Step 1. Fold your tissue paper in half and place the toilet paper in the center.



Step 2.  Fold one corner of the tissue paper up and stuff the end into the toilet paper tube, keeping the tissue paper as close to the toilet paper as possible.



Step 3.  Tuck an adjacent corner into the tube the same way, folding excess paper underneath to hide it.




Step 4.  Fold in a third side, leaving one corner.



Step 5. Fold in the last corner.  Remember to tuck all the excess paper underneath your folds so it doesn’t stick out.



Step 6.  Cut a large strip of brown paper – about the same size as copy paper is plenty – and fold it in half lengthwise.


Step 7.  Roll the paper into a cylinder.



Step 8. Twist the tube like you’re wringing out a washcloth.



Step 9.  Stuff the brown paper into the center of your pumpkin.  The excess tissue paper will make the hole small enough to hold your “stem” in place.



Step 10.  Cut out a leaf shape in green tissue paper.  I tried this freehand and it was awful, so since I didn’t have a leaf pattern with me, I traced the shape of a leaf from one of my silk flower arrangements.  If you want to use my pattern, click on the picture below to view it larger, then right-click it and save.



Step 11. Tape the leaf onto the pumpkin.  Ta-da!



I made three pumpkins using two  shades of orange tissue paper.  Since I wanted all three pumpkins to look a little different, I put polka-dots on one sheet.  You can fancy up your tissue paper by adding a design of your own.



In other news, I’ve been taking pictures with my almost 3-year-old cell phone, which is not what it used to be.  I’d use my camera, but it’s twice as old and takes pictures twice as slowly.  Maybe someday I’ll have a new camera; until then, bear with me. ^_^