ScoreCard Research Sarah E. White - The Penny Hoarder

Popsicle sticks are the unsung hero of the craft department. Also known as craft sticks, they are inexpensive, easy to work with and great for a lot of different kinds of projects.

My daughter goes through Popsicle sticks like you would not believe, using them to make everything from tiny people to bookmarks. She also uses them for all sorts of construction projects. While they are great for kids, there are a lot of Popsicle stick crafts grownups can — and will —  want to do, too.

Popsicle Stick Basics

Popsicle sticks are just what you think they are: little wooden sticks like those that might have a delicious frozen treat on the end.

Of course you can take the time to collect Popsicle sticks and clean them for crafts, but you can also save time and your waistline by buying them at your local dollar store, where you should be able to find packs of 100 for $1.

If you need to buy in bulk, you can grab 1,000 for about $5 from Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts, $7.29 from Michaels or $10.41 from Amazon.

Popsicle sticks come in different sizes, most commonly 4.5 inches long. Mini sticks are about 2 inches long, while jumbo sticks are 6 inches long. The width can vary, too, from about 1/2 inch to 5/8 inches, depending on the brand.

They’re typically available in a light wood color or in multicolor packs of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas for Popsicle stick crafts that are perfect for kids and adults alike.

Picture Frames Made with Popsicle Sticks

[caption id="attachment_65716" align="aligncenter" width="640"]picture frames made out of popsicle sticks Image from Chica Circle[/caption]

Chica Circle has a great tutorial showing how to make classic square frames and jazz them up with paint markers. Try regular markers, paint, stickers or just about anything else to make these frames your own.

First Palette has more ideas for decorating Popsicle stick picture frames, like gluing on buttons, shells and flowers. And Artistic Junkie broke out the multicolored Popsicle sticks to make frames in different shapes and sizes, including a triple frame.

This pretty stand-up frame from DIY Family is a great choice for sitting on your desk, and you can make it hold either a horizontal or a vertical photo.

Who says a frame has to go around the outside of your picture? These cute frames from Eighteen25 are decorated mats you can pin or tape your pictures to. Add magnets to the back for easy hanging on any magnetic surface.

Fancy up your simple frame with LEDs, as in this project from Instructables. Or join your basic frames together into a wall-filling multi-photo frame. This video from Michael Kociemba shows you how.

Upscale Home Décor with Popsicle Sticks

[caption id="attachment_65718" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]a hexagon shaped shelf made out of popsicle sticks is hanging on the wall holding a small cactus Image from Make and Do Crew[/caption]

You might be getting the idea by now that you can make all sorts of crafts that look high-end with Popsicle sticks.

Make and Do Crew has a couple of amazing tutorials for Popsicle stick shelves in hexagon and honeycomb shapes that are sure to send you running to the craft store for a big box of sticks. The single hexagon shelf used about 100 sticks, so you can make it for $1 if you already have some glue and stain or paint. Compare that to this wooden hexagon shelf on Amazon that will run you $25 plus shipping.

Or try a different kind of wall art with these giant craft stick arrows from Festoon and Frill.

Turn a tiny mirror into a big statement piece like this one from Gracefully Searching. She says her version cost about $7. Compare that to least expensive version on Amazon at $10.87 —  and the price goes up from there.

Make a plain glass vase a little more interesting by soaking and bending Popsicle sticks to place inside. You can also make a clock or an icosahedron candle holder with tutorials from Instructables, or make a whole table from sticks, like the one shown at HomeLife.

Popsicle sticks are great for holiday décor, too, as you can see in these great holiday trees from Momtastic. You’ll need a foam base and some other basic supplies, but a trip to the craft store will get you set up easily. Or make giant snowflakes like these from A Girl and a Glue Gun.

Kids’ Crafts Made with Popsicle Sticks

[caption id="attachment_65720" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]a close up photo of bracelets made out of popsicle sticks Image from Molly Moo Crafts[/caption]

Of course kid-focused crafts are the traditional use for Popsicle sticks, but even this genre of crafting provides some really cool options kids and adults alike will enjoy.

I made a craft caddy for my daughter using the bottom of a round cheese box (Laughing Cow wedges) and 24 craft sticks. Glue the sticks to the outside of the box and let dry.

Spray paint or paint in the color of your choice. I used two coats of spray paint. I made my organizer with things I already had, but even if you had to buy all the supplies it would cost around $5 to make.

Molly Moo Crafts shares a tutorial for craft stick bracelets, a great basic craft with tons of variations. You can draw on them, write on them, paint them, add stickers and glue on buttons or just about anything else you can think of. So fun!

You might have made God’s eyes when you were younger — they are a classic craft that can be woven with Popsicle sticks. Red Ted Art has a couple of great options, including a basic version and one that looks like a flower in the center.

Let kids personalize their rooms in a crafty way with a Popsicle stick door hanger like the one shown at 101 Nifties, or follow KraftJoy’s tutorial to make a chalkboard-painted door sign decorated with Legos or other small toys.

Popsicle sticks are a great medium for all sorts of fun projects, such as this craft stick loom from Art Projects for Kids. Or try the craft stick harmonica or marble run from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls.

Outdoor Crafts Made with Craft Sticks

[caption id="attachment_65724" align="aligncenter" width="640"]a birdfeeder made out of popsicle sticks is pictured hanging from a tree Image from Mothering with Mindfullness[/caption]

Take your craft sticks outside to create some fun Popsicle stick crafts for the birds and beyond.

Mothering with Mindfulness has a sweet, colorful bird feeder you can make with a bag of rainbow colored sticks; a similar one with a perch for the bird can be found at Create Celebrate Explore.

Babble took the idea a step further by turning a similar base into a Popsicle stick bird house.

Popsicle sticks are a great choice for little houses you can put outside for fairies or use in small world play (and of course you can keep them inside, too). Check out the roundup at Hative for tons of inspiration.

Jazz up plain terra cotta pots by hanging them from craft stick hangers, like the ones at Omaha.com.

Use your bead stash or other little treasures to make wind chimes, a great project for kids and adults alike. Get the steps from How to This and That.

Art Projects Made with Popsicle Sticks

[caption id="attachment_65729" align="aligncenter" width="685"]butterfly crafts made out popsicles and yarn Image from Craft Train[/caption]

We’ve barely scratched the surface of all that can be done with craft sticks, but here are a few more ideas.

Make craft stick butterflies with help from the Craft Train or learn how to make storage baskets out of Popsicle sticks from ikat bag.

Make a fun magnetic pattern game for kids with inspiration from Pure and Noble. This is great for kids to play with while supper is cooking or would be fun on a road trip if you bring a metal cookie sheet along.

Try a super cute Popsicle stick notebook from In My Blue Room. Kids can decorate the cover of their own books, but these are great for grown ups to make and use as well.

Showcase art projects by making buildings around a cut-out drawing, as shown in these examples from kindergarten art teacher Hannah Hendrickson. Or feature a tiny piece of art on a Popsicle stick easel, made with this tutorial from ikat bag.

Tips for Working with Popsicle Sticks

Popsicle sticks are wooden, but you don’t have to use wood glue in your projects if you don’t happen to have any handy. Plain all-purpose glue or Aleene’s Tacky Glue will work just fine, and you can even use glue sticks for some projects, which are great for kids’ crafts.

I have not had good luck using an Elmer’s type of washable school glue on Popsicle sticks -- it tends to be too runny.

Any kind of paint can be used on Popsicle sticks, including spray paint and varnish. You can even dye the sticks in water with a few drops of food coloring.

If your project is going to live outside, a couple coats of spray varnish or acrylic sealer will help it stay fresh.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. By checking out this featured content, you help us bring you more ways to save!

Sarah E. White is a freelance writer, editor, crafter and mom based in Arkansas. She writes about creativity for moms and other busy people at Our Daily Craft and about decluttering craft supplies and using what you have at Minimalist Crafter.

Like most people, I get a lot of packages in the mail, and I own a lot of stuff. I’d also like my stuff to look good when I store it.

But storage boxes and baskets can be expensive. Why not use the package boxes that are already coming to your house — and a few basic supplies you might already have — to make your own storage boxes? Here are three easy options to get you started.

Store Vacation Treasures in a Map-Covered Box

[caption id="attachment_63200" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]A DIY storage box covered in a map with photos inside Photo from Sarah E. White[/caption]

Instead of buying a photo box to store your memorabilia from a trip, use a map to make the storage box part of your nostalgic display.

Materials:

  • Kid-sized shoebox
  • One foldable map (grab one at the visitor’s center while on your trip, or order one for about $2.25 on Amazon)
  • Pencil and scissors
  • Spray glue (my favorite is Super 77, which runs $7.37 a bottle from Amazon and will last you forever)

Instructions:

Use the pencil to trace the sides of the box on the map, making sure to include the part of the state or country you visited so that it will be the front of the box when it is stored.

Cut out each side individually so you can orient them face up when you attach them to the box.

Use spray glue on the back of each map piece and adhere them to the sides.

Trace the shape of the top of the box (I did the top in one piece), cut out and adhere as with the sides.

If desired, trace the sides again on to pieces of felt and use spray glue to adhere felt to the inside of the box. You could also use paper, more of the map or flyers from places you visited on your trip — whatever you like.

Fill the box with souvenirs, printed out pictures, seashells, brochures and other memories from your trip.

Cost comparison: Assuming you have to buy all the supplies, this project would cost just over $11. It’s hardly fair to count the glue, though, so just buying the felt and the map makes it $3.72. The least expensive photo boxes on Amazon are $6.99, and they aren’t nearly as meaningful.  

Organize Craft Supplies in a Divided Box

[caption id="attachment_63198" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]DIY storage box covered in contact paper holding yarn Photo from Sarah E. White[/caption]

Use a large shipping box, covered with Con-Tact paper with DIY dividers, to store yarn, fabric or other supplies that might need corralling.

Materials:

  • Large shipping box
  • One roll Con-Tact paper (mine is called Arbor Marina and was $6.43 on Amazon)
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard pieces for dividers

Instructions:

My box happened to be almost exactly the same width as the paper roll, which made this much easier. Otherwise you will need to cut your pieces down like in the previous project. I cut one piece large enough to cover down one side, across the bottom and up the other side, and then I cut the other sides separately.

Cut duplicate pieces of Con-Tact paper to cover the inside. Cut slits in the paper where it needs to cover corners so you can fold it more easily.

For the dividers, you can take the dividers out of a wine box, or use the flaps from the top of a cardboard box and cut them down to size. If you like you can cover them with Con-Tact paper, too, but, depending on the size of your box, you may need a second roll.

Cost comparison: If all you have to buy is the Con-Tact paper, this project costs $6.43 or less (you can even buy Con-Tact paper at the dollar store, though the patterns are limited and the rolls may be shorter). Compare that to a bento-style storage box on Amazon, which would cost $33.38 for a similar size (19x12x10 inches compared to my box that was 18x14x8).

Add a Rustic Splash of Color with a DIY Wooden Box

[caption id="attachment_63199" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]A DIY storage box painted blue holding toys Photo from Sarah E. White[/caption]

Here’s another great way to update a shipping box when you want it to look nice enough to go on a bookshelf, desk or mantle. It’s more time consuming than the other projects, but it’s so lovely you’re going to want to make a bunch of them to display.

Materials:

  • Shipping box
  • Glue (wood glue or standard)
  • Craft knife or utility knife
  • Scissors
  • Sandpaper

Instructions:

To cover the longer sides of the box, I had to use one whole paint stick and part of another. The short sides of my box happened to be the same length as the paint sticks, but on the shorter sides, you may need to cut sticks to fit. To cut the paint sticks, I used a sharp craft knife and a dull pair of scissors to score the wood enough so that I could break it, then used sandpaper to smooth the edge.

Glue a single paint stick or row of sticks along the top of one side of the box, then glue the second row of paint sticks on top, overlapping a bit. Glue the next row underneath the second one, overlapping a bit.

Repeat on as many sides as you like. If you know this box is going on a shelf and you’ll never see the back, I won’t tell if you don’t cover it.

Spray paint the sides of the box. I used two coats, allowing the box to dry in between.

Cover the inside of the box as you like, with Con-Tact or other paper, spray paint or just leave it plain.

Cost comparison: Buying both the paint sticks and the spray paint would cost $14.87. A smaller wooden crate (11.5x8.5x8.25 compared to my 12x16x6) with solid slats and a chalkboard label retails for $29.99 at Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts.

Labeling and Making It Your Own

Speaking of labels, you can use leftover paint stirrer pieces and a bit of cardboard covered with chalkboard paint (which will run you about $4) to make a customized label to mount on your box.

You can also use a bit of cork board to label your boxes. Cut cork board into a fun shape and glue to the front of the box. You’ll have a versatile way to tack on labels, photos and notes.

Your map box is already labeled as to the location where the things inside were gathered, but feel free to add a star sticker to the city or cities you visited to make it a bit more fun.

Disclosure: Here’s a toast to the affiliate links in this post. May we all be just a little richer today.

Sarah E. White is a freelance writer, editor, crafter and mom based in Arkansas. She writes about creativity for moms and other busy people at Our Daily Craft and about decluttering craft supplies and using what you have at Minimalist Crafter.

Having a hobby is a great way to relieve stress, but the equipment and supplies can be a big drain on your budget.

As a professional craft writer who has a lot of hobbies (and a crafty kid, too), I need a lot of supplies. I hit the dollar store whenever I can for basics and beyond that will help me make the projects I want without breaking the bank.

Dollar stores vary, but here’s what you can expect to find — and how much you can save -- when you skip the craft megastores or big-box retailers. The following price comparisons are from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, Michaels, Walmart, Target and Amazon.

Blank T-Shirts in the Summer

The seasonal section at the dollar store is always worth a stop if you like decorating for holidays. In the summer the aisles are full of red, white and blue, fake-flower leis, tons of cheap flip-flops and what I really came in for: plain colored T-shirts.

My store had kid-sized shirts in about a dozen different colors, which are perfect for embellishing or using in crafts such as making T-shirt yarn, necklaces, doggie chew toys and other projects.

Bought elsewhere, plain kids’ T-shirts range from $1.76 on Amazon to $6.95 at Walmart, depending on size and where you buy them; the average price at retailers I surveyed was $3.46, so buying at the dollar store can save you around $2.46 per shirt.

Pop in the rest of the year to find inexpensive Halloween, Christmas and Easter decor that’s perfect for fun seasonal crafting.

Get Flowers for Less

The floral department of your local dollar store is a great place to look for brightly colored fake flowers at $1 a stem. You can get a bunch of flowers to add to a wreath (or make a pretend play flower shop for your child) for just a few dollars.

Don’t miss the vases, which are typically located near the other craft supplies. They usually have a great selection of glass vases. You’ll also find floral foam and foam wreath blanks, perfect for all sorts of projects.

Faux flowers vary widely in quality and cost, but the cheapest ones I could find at big retailers ranged from $1.20 at Jo-Ann to $5.80 from Walmart, giving an average price of $3.12.

The least expensive glass vases ranged from 97 cents at Walmart (but the item was out of stock when I checked) to $3 at Jo-ann, for an average price of $2.26. A foam wreath ring costs between $4.19 at Jo-Ann and $5.88 at Walmart, with an average price of $5.24.

If you bought all the supplies for a flower arrangement, including floral foam, a glass vase and, say, six sprays of flowers, at the dollar store you would spend $8. Using the least-expensive products I could find, a similar arrangement would cost $11.94 if you bought everything at Jo-ann, $16.92 from Michaels, $16.95 from Amazon and nearly $40 from Walmart. At Target you’d spend $31.28 — but you can’t buy floral foam there.

Don’t Skip the Hardware Aisle

One place you might not think to look for craft supplies at the dollar store is the hardware section, but you’re likely to find a good variety of paint brushes (bristle and foam), paint cups and drop cloths.

There’s also a variety of adhesives, twine, rope and other hardware that could be helpful in projects. Use jute or cotton twine to wrap a bottle for a rustic outdoor candle holder, for example, or grab some duct tape to make wallets, flowers and personalized school supplies.

A one-inch paintbrush bought elsewhere ranges in price from 99 cents at Michaels to $3.49 at Target, while foam brushes, sold in an eight-pack at the dollar store, would run you from $1.59 for a set of three from Target or $6.95 for 25 from Walmart. With our examples, that’s a savings of up to 41 cents per brush.

Craft Department

Of course there is actually a craft section at the dollar store, which can range from heavy on kid craft items like googly eyes, feathers and craft sticks to a more adult-focused section with scrapbook paper, yarn and more.

Available items can vary at your store, but I love to get kid craft basics here: beads and pipe cleaners for kids’ jewelry projects, feathers and googly eyes for the endless creatures my kid loves to make, paint and stencils to personalize notebooks, and much more.

You can find cute colored twine, glitter glue, pony beads, pom poms, craft kits and more. My store even has tiny bottles of Mod Podge and tubs of Play-Doh for just $1.

How much you’ll save depends on what and how much you are buying, but just as an example a pack of 100 multicolored wooden craft sticks -- which you can use to build structures, make picture frames and tons of other projects -- would run you from $2.87 at Walmart to $9.99 at Target, where you’d have to buy 500.

Pony beads are $1 for a pack of 400 at the dollar store, or $1.97 at Walmart for a small package, $2.79 for 720 at Jo-ann, $4.29 for 580 at Michaels and $3.07 or $6.29, respectively, for 1,000 from Amazon or Target.

School Supplies

Another great place to check for craft supplies is the school section. Among other dollar deals, you’re likely to find a great price on posterboard.

My local store has white posterboard for 50 cents and colored poster board for 69 cents a sheet. Compare that to 97 cents a sheet for white or colored poster board at the Walmart across the parking lot. The savings really add up if you need a lot of it.

You’ll also find stickers, classroom decorations, pens, pencils and notebooks for all the creative types in your household.

Other Craft Supplies to Buy at the Dollar Store

  • Picture frames: plain frames can be painted, and certificate frames can be used to hold kids’ artwork
  • Containers: there are tons of great organizing supplies at the dollar store, from plastic bins with lids to open baskets and more
  • Aluminum trays: usually sold in multipacks, these are great for holding paint or for containing a project when using spray paint or spray glue
  • Party supplies: Ribbon, streamers, tissue paper and little party favors you can use to decorate a wreath or frame for a kids’ room
  • Sponges: cellulose sponges can be cut into shapes for stamping, used to paint texture or to clean up messy craft projects
  • Kitchen and bath items: wander through these sections and you might be inspired to try painting with a back massager or using a tiny strainer to distribute glitter on a project

Take a stroll through the aisles of your favorite dollar store every now and then to find creative inspiration and low-cost supplies. Inexpensive dollar store options can keep you crafting and creating while sticking to your budget.

Sarah E. White is a freelance writer, editor, crafter and mom based in Arkansas. She writes about creativity for moms and other busy people, crafting with and for kids and creating the life you’ve always wanted at Our Daily Craft.