My Frugal LifeFrugal Living

My Frugal Life: Become a Frugal Crafter

One person's trash really can become another's gold with a little ingenuity and imagination. For various reasons (including choice and challenge), I am used to trying to make something out of nothing. For those of us who have fallen on tough times more recently, this essay is intended to help you find a creative outlet for free and perhaps the chance to make some gifts that will be all the more treasured simply because you made them. Save all the following:

  • Christmas and other special occasion cards

  • Ribbon, string and yarn from gifts like chocolate boxes and toiletry sets

  • Small, boxes and containers, even ones with branding on can be re-covered or disguised with stickers.

  • Wine corks (see my designs for making earrings from sliced winecorks here on thriftyFun)

  • Bottles and jars with interesting shapes. There was a fantastic craft tip using these as potpourri holders recently on TF.

  • Baskets of any size and shape (priceless not worthless)

  • coloured foil and paper scraps from candies

  • buttons from clothes that are beyond repair and destined for the rag bag. buttons are a fantastic resource and can be used for jewelry, and embellishments on cards.

  • Slice and dry any oranges that are sound but past eating, they are great in potpourri and make fantastic christmas decorations too.

You can quickly build up a stash of useful craft items that will soon get your creative juices flowing again! But it doesn't have to stop there because when the weather permits it is also time to begin collecting useful things from nature including: Pine cones, beech mast, acorns rose-hips and teasels, small attractive leaves like japanese maple, ivy and bay for pressing and drying, spring and summer flowers for pressing (these should either be from the garden or, if from the wild, very plentiful), dried flower heads, including marjoram, lavender and roses can be used to make fantastic, textured pot pourri.


If you don't have a garden, look in your local public spaces like parks or woodland walks, make sure you take a small bag with you to collect what you find fallen to the ground, but please don't take from displays without asking first. Ask neighbors if you can help tidy their yard in return for the pick of useful and attractive bits and pieces. If you live near a seashore or even when on a beach holiday, look for shells, sand dollars, sea glass, driftwood and seaweed. One tip I found useful is to put items you have collected outdoors into the freezer for couple of days to get rid of any little passengers.

In order to use what you have found it is important to sort, store and label items neatly. Once this is done, with the addition of cheap items such as clear cellophane wrapping, scented oils and candles you can create a wealth of exclusive and exciting items both for yourself or to give as gifts. These include potpourri made from the dried leaves, flowers and cones sprinkled with jasmine or lavender essential oil placed in a basket with a couple of cheap candles.


Wrap the whole thing in cellophane and tie with some salvaged ribbon. Do the same with seaside items but add small sponges or wash cloths for a bathroom basket. Real wine corks make great kitchen decorations when displayed in tall or interesting shaped jars. Fill your pretty boxes with homemade sweets or cookies and use attractive jars with herbal salt scrub made from inexpensive sea salt, dried seaweed, herbs and a little sweet almond oil.

These are just a few of the almost limitless frugal ideas I have tried or heard about that have allowed me to remain creative whatever financial storm I am weathering. Finally, remember if you put a tip for a new idea onto ThriftyFun, you could win a contest too. With the money, buy a few basic supplies to help you give the things you make a little more finish, but that's another essay.

By ayesha christmas from Slovenia EU

Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here:


Editor's Note: In addition to the weekly tip contests, we also have a Crafting For Fun And Money program where ThriftyFun will pay for published craft instructions and photos. Here is a link with more information:

Here are the ThriftyFun links that Ayesha mentions in her essay:

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May 26, 20100 found this helpful

Congratulations Ayesha! Great article. Thumbs up!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
May 29, 20100 found this helpful

I really appreciate your sharing. The thriftyfun community is so generous. My spirit is always lifted when I read their articles, hints, questions and look at the photos.

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May 30, 20100 found this helpful

The plastic caps from spray cans are usable as containers for glue or very small amounts of tempera paint. I enjoyed the article.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

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Better Living Frugal Living My Frugal LifeMay 24, 2010
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