We are trying something a little different for our teen programming this year. Our age ranges go from high school to 'college age', whatever that means - no longer kids at home, out on their own, navigating school/work/independence. Yeah, "college-age" is just easier to say.
We are trying a series we are calling "life hacks", or "things they haven't taught you but you really wish they would." Our first, in September, will be a program on personal security - self defense, securing your vehicle/apartment, etc. Looking ahead to the gift-giving season, I am planning a program on making gifts that LOOK really cool, but that don't break the budget (even if your budget is, like, $5). To that end, I recently spent $11.87 at a local thrift shop on these items:
and added in this clock:
I bought the clock for $1 at a yard sale many years ago, and it recently started keeping rather erratic time, in spite of new batteries.
The dome-shaped thing says it is a 'California fruit ripener'. I guess in California they don't have windowsills or paper bags. A little gravel from the turtle tank, some potting soil, and some succulents that needed to be re-potted, and you have:
a miniature greenhouse!
Honestly, that's what I thought it was when I picked it up. I will probably find a nicer tray for underneath, the plate was just handy. If you don't have plants to take cuttings from, buy a packet of seeds for $1 - herbs would be good - and get them started before presenting the gift. Or, if you are out of time, tie a pretty ribbon around the seeds and put them inside the dome with a bag of colored stones from the dollar store and a small bag of potting soil (dollar stores sometimes have that, too!) Great gift for anyone who likes to cook! Big glass jars work well for this kind of thing, too - cake servers - look around the housewares section with an open mind. The gravel or stones for the bottom will help with drainage if there aren't holes in the bottom.
This also could have been a cool spaceship toy with a little bit of fabric and colored paper - but, I really needed to re-pot these plants!
Next to it, of course, is the watering can, with a spider plant started in it. The watering can needs some sort of decoration - a painted message, or flowers if you are artistic. If you aren't, cut pictures out of a magazine and glue them on. Glue a wide ribbon around the bottom or tie some on the handle. Yes, ribbon, I think:
Amanda, didn't you give that scrapbooking ribbon to me when you moved away? Come back for a visit, and you can have the whole planter!
The clock was fun to take apart:
|saving the gears for jewelry-making later|
I got two gifts out of this one. For the first, I used the frame from the flower picture. I was going to repaint it, but decided I liked it better looking a little weathered. If you need to repaint something, though, don't go buy a whole can of paint - Freecycle is your friend! Everyone has odds and ends of leftover paint sitting around, just ask!
I did this one quickly to give the general idea: clock face in one corner, hand-lettering in the other (or you could print out letters, or use stickers), then pictures of times spent with the kiddos, printed off Facebook:
Superglue the hands to the outside, for a 3D effect:
and you have an "Awwww" gift that will make Mom melt.
I was excited when I realized the empty clock frame would make a great shadow box...and then I couldn't find the main thing I wanted to put in it. I did find where I saved the note...
that Daddy came home to one night. "Call us on Mykela's cell. Don't panic. Your younger daughter shoved a rock up her nose." Turned out it was actually a pinon nut, which I saved, after the very expensive trip to the ER to get it out when tweezers failed, and telling her to blow her nose just resulted in sniffing it up further. I KNOW I saved the nut and put it somewhere safe...when I figure out where that was, this frame will be waiting, and will be sure to give Daddy a laugh every time he looks at it! You can probably think of something less disgusting that will mean something special to somebody on your gift list, and broken clocks are MUCH cheaper than official shadow boxes!
Finally, that wine rack from the first picture was looking pretty grody, but some black spray paint (stolen from the custodian) spiffed it right up:
Now it can hold magazines (a Dad gift! Dads are SO hard!), or earrings. Hang it in your bathroom to put rolled-up towels in - fancy! Put it on its side next to (or inside) the shower for your shampoo, body wash, etc. Stand it back up, fill the holes with mis-matched drinking glasses, and stash pencils, paperclips, etc. in them. Hang it in your kitchen and use it to hold foil, waxed paper, etc. - or (and this is a silly idea) - bottles!
So, five gifts for less than $15. Don't be calling me cheap, now, or you won't get one!