DIY Decorative Gift Bags

Photo by Kathleen Quandt

‘Tis the season to be giving. But when it comes to wrapping gifts it can be costly. Decorating your own kraft paper gift bags can be an inexpensive way to wrap gifts and it adds a personal touch. Christmas isn’t the only time of year to make your own gift bags, they can be used for any gift-giving occasion.

Before making your gift bags, gather everything you would like to use to decorate them. Ribbons and bows, scraps of wrapping paper or cardstock, stencils, and glitter are a few things you can use. I purchased the kraft paper gift bags on Amazon. Be creative!

In the photo above, I used a stencil to trace flower outlines on the blank side of two pieces of cardstock (for the bag on the left). Next, I cut out the flowers and glued them to the blank gift bag. For the bag on the right, I used a piece of cardstock that with a picture of a large flower. I trimmed the cardstock and glued it to the center of the bag.

Below, I have shown a few of my own ideas to give you inspiration.

What you need:

  • kraft paper gift bags
  • scissors
  • glue
  • wrapping paper or cardstock
  • bows and ribbons
  • glitter
  • markers or colored pencils
  • anything you like to decorate with!


This is a simple design using a piece of cardstock and and scissors that cut a decorative edge.

  1. Measure and cut a piece of cardstock or wrapping paper to fit the bottom half of the bag.
  2. Using scissors, cut a decorative edge along the top of the paper.
  3. Glue to paper to the bottom half of the gift bag.


I used Mod Podge and glitter to give this gift bag some sparkle. Because glitter can be messy, use old newspaper to cover your worksurface.

  1. Using a small paint brush or sponge, paint Mod Podge over the bottom half of the gift bag.
  2. Sprinkle glitter over the glued area.
  3. Allow to dry. Glue will be clear when it is completely dry.


I used some spare ribbon, cardstock and stencils for this fun geometric design.

  1. Measure and cut ribbon to fit along the top edge of the bag.
  2. Glue the ribbon to the bag.
  3. Using stencils, trace and cut out shapes using different colors of cardstock. In the photo on the left, I cut out different sizes of squares in two different shades of blue.
  4. Glue the shapes together, and glue them to the bag.

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4th of July Fairy Lights

Photo by Kathleen Quandt

Whether you’re throwing a party or just want fun decorations, fairy lights can liven up any decor. They are inexpensive and easy to use. Fairy lights use batteries, and because of this they can be used many different and creative ways.

Because it’s the 4th of July, I decided to use red, white and blue striped ribbon. The same idea could be used for other holidays and festivities by changing the color of the ribbon. For example, use red and green for Christmas, or orange and black for Halloween. How many ribbons you tie on the lights is up to you. Be creative!

What you need:

  • 3/8 inch grosgrain ribbon
  • string of fairy lights
  • scissors


  1. Begin by measuring and cutting several lengths of ribbon. For the photo above, I cut 4 inch pieces of ribbon.

2. To make the ties, start by folding the ribbon in half underneath the fairy lights.

3. Fold the two loose ends down over the fairy lights and through the loop made my folding the ribbon in half.

4. Hold the fairy lights taught while pulling the ribbon into a knot.

5. Repeat this as many times as you want, until you have reached the end of the strand. For the fairy lights pictured above, there is one ribbon tied between each light on the strand.

Another option is to ties bows instead of knots with the ribbon. I used 8 inch pieces of ribbon to make the bows. The trick is to tie the bow directly onto the fairy lights. After the bow is tied tight, then position the ribbon to make the bow look the way you want.

Photo by Kathleen Quandt

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Bug Spray with Citronella Essential Oil

Everyone loves spending time outdoors in the summer. It’s a great time for picnics, gardening, ball games and going to the park. It’s also a great time for pesky mosquitoes.

While store bought bug sprays can be costly and harsh smelling, you can make your own bug spray by using two simple ingredients and citronella essential oil. Citronella essential oil is a natural mosquito repellent. There are many other essential oils are good for using in bug sprays. For this recipe, I have used citronella as my main essential oil, and smaller amounts of lemongrass and eucalyptus essential oils. Adding other essential oils makes a more pleasant smell, and to adds to the strength of the repellent.

Other essential oils for bug sprays:

  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea Tree
  • Spearmint
  • Peppermint


  • 2 oz. spray bottle
  • 1/4 cup distilled water
  • 1/4 cup witch hazel
  • 15 – 20 drops citronella essential oil
  • 3 – 6 drops your choice of other essential oils (listed above)


  1. Add 1/4 cup distilled water and 1/4 cup witch hazel to the spray bottle.
  2. Next, add 15 – 20 drops citronella essential oil.
  3. Add 3 – 6 drops of other essential oils (listed above).
  4. Replace cap and label the bottle (optional). Your’re done!

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Easy Summertime Activities


If you want to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air this summer, sitting in a lawn chair won’t keep your attention for long. There can be plenty of activities for kids, but what are you going to do? If you’re not looking to spend a lot of money for entertainment, you might be out of ideas for things to do. Below is a list of summertime activities that can be easy and cheap (or even free!). If you don’t live in a city where you have sidewalks or a lawn you can use, nearby parks are a great resource.

1. Events at parks – Check with your local park to see what events they have to offer. Many are cheap and even free. Lots of parks offer music, plays, games and other things to do for everyone.

2. Ride a bike – Enjoy the warmer weather by going for a bike ride. Parks can have trails for biking as well as walking and hiking.

3. Walk, hike or jog – Get out and spend time with mother nature on the trails, or simply just take a walk. If you’re the more active type, you might like to go for a run to stay active.

4. Swim – If there isn’t a nearby pool or lake you can use, visit your neighborhood park or beach. There’s no better time of year than the summer to take a dip!

5. Go to the park – Relax, have fun, play a game….the options are endless.

6. Pick up a hobby – Write, paint, draw, crafts. Hobbies don’t need to be costly or elaborate. A simple sketch book or journal is all it takes to start a new hobby.

7. Read – Outside on a blanket or in a lawn chair, your surroundings and a little fresh air make all the difference

8. Cookout/grill – Hot dogs, hamburgers, fresh veggies, you name it! Don’t let the summer pass you by without tasting delicious food on the grill!


Beach Bag Essentials


It’s a beautiful sunny day outside and it’s time to hit the beach! But what should you take with you? You might already know the essentials: sunscreen and a beach towel. But if you really want to enjoy your time in the sun and be prepared, there is a list of other things to pack.

Before Going to the Beach

As always, you will need your swimsuit, cover-up and flip-flops. You also might need a change of clothes if you will be going somewhere after the beach, and a plastic bag for a wet swimsuit or towels.

Apply sunscreen before going to the beach and take it with you to re-apply after swimming. It’s easiest to apply when you have privacy, and without being covered in sand in the process.

What to Bring

First, you will need a beach bag to carry your things to the beach.

Next, you will need a towel to sit on or dry off with. I like to take at least two towels, one to lay on and one to dry off with. This way, you always have a clean towel to lay on, or an extra towel to dry off with.

Another useful item to take with you is a beach roll or beach mat. A beach roll provides extra padding between you and the sand and makes laying on more comfortable. Also, bring a beach chair if you want to be more comfortable sitting up on the beach. If sitting in the shade is more your thing, bring a beach umbrella to get out of the sun’s rays.

Now that you have your things to make your spot in the sand, you will need to bring sunscreen, sunglasses or a hat, and lip balm. I prefer lip balm with sunscreen in it.

Don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated and bring snacks or a lunch in a cooler if you will be staying longer.

Other essentials that you might want to consider taking with you are your cell phone, ID, and some money for buying things from concessions.

Now, other than relaxing on the beach, you might want to bring some things with you to keep you busy while you’re there. Books and magazines are popular, as are games such as frisbee and volleyball. I always like to make sure I have my iPod and headphones for listening to music.

Plan a Day or Stay Prepared

Keep an eye on the weather forecast when you’re thinking of going to the beach. This helps you choose the best weather and day that fits your schedule, and helps you avoid rainy days.

I like to keep my beach bag packed so I always know where my beach things are and I’m ready to go for a spur-of-the-moment day at the beach.

Before Going Home

It’s always a good idea to dry off and brush off the sand before going home. You might want to use an extra towel to sit on while in the car if your swimsuit is wet.

Below is a numbered  list of things to take to the beach. You may take away or add other things as you wish.

  1. swimsuit
  2. cover-up
  3. flip-flops
  4. change of clothes
  5. plastic bag
  6. beach bag
  7. towels
  8. beach roll or beach mat
  9. beach chair
  10. beach umbrella
  11. sunscreen
  12. lip balm
  13. hat
  14. sunglasses
  15. beverages
  16. snacks or lunch
  17. cell phone
  18. money
  19. ID
  20. iPod
  21. books, magazines or games

Red, White and Blue Mason Jars



Mason jars aren’t just for canning anymore. In the craft world they can be versatile. For this project I used three mason jars and a little creativity to make them into decorative red, white and blue vases. Like other projects I’ve done, you can change the colors, use different materials, and add your own patterns as you wish. Try mixing it up!

I decided to try a different style for each jar, rather than making matching jars. Start with clean, dry jars and make sure you cover your work surface using old newspaper or plastic.

Supplies:                                                                                                                                        IMG_1437

3 wide-mouth mason jars

paint or foam brushes

acrylic paint in red, white and blue

blue painter’s tape

glitter in red and white                                                                                                                                                                               IMG_1439

red, white, and blue striped streamers

red, white, and blue striped ribbon

Mod Podge matte or clear polyurethane matte varnish


artificial flowers


For the white jar shown above, I painted the entire jar with 2 coats of white acrylic paint, letting each coat dry completely before applying the next coat.  Next, I used sandpaper to lightly sand the jar to make an “antiqued” look. To finish the look, I gave the jar a coat of Mod Podge Matte. I added red, white, and blue ribbon to the top of the jar and tied it in a bow.


I decided to go for some fun and sparkles with the blue jar. First, I painted the jar with one coat blue paint and let it dry completely. To apply the glitter, I painted the second coat about 1/3 way up the jar and sprinkled it with glitter as I went along. I then painted another 1/3 up the jar and did the same with white glitter. Finally, I painted the top 1/3 of the jar. When the jar was completely dry, I shook off the excess glitter and painted the last coat with clear matte varnish.


Instead of painting a stripe on the red jar, I decided to add a red, white and blue streamer. To do this, I used painter’s tape around the middle of the jar as a guide when I painted the jar with 2 coats of red acrylic paint. Then, I removed the tape and let the paint dry completely.


The stripe I made was slightly wider then my streamer, so I added white paint to the edges of the stripe to cover up any clear space. Then, I used Mod Podge to glue the streamer to the jar. Finally, when everything was dry, I added a coat of Mod Podge to finish the look. Arrange the artificial flowers in the jars and you’re finished!