Look to the Masters

Once we sent out our invitations, the pressure was on to come up with a series of crafts for the pARTy that the guests could pull off in a period of two hours and that would be safe, inexpensive, and fun.  I had five “creative types” in mind as inpsiration for the big day: Jackson Pollock, Coco Chanel. Andy Warhol, Steven Meisel, and Frida Kahlo.  I spent a bit of time trolling the internet for images of the artists, brief bios, and examples of their work, saving bits to my hard drive that I found most useful.

Know your Audience

I was designing projects for a group of 12 second and third graders.  I knew I could count on them to tie knots (or ask for help tying knots) and to work somewhat independently.  I also knew that they would like jewelry and hair accessories as much as they would painting and photography.  If  I had a mixed group of older kids, I probably would have done film and video projects and more serious painting work – It might have been a backyard mural party (I’ve got that planned for our Summer of Funner, 2012, by the way) or a video scavenger hunt.  If it were a younger set, I’d probably purchase paintable models of dolls or dinosaurs or blank pre-jig-sawed puzzles to crayon over.

Scour the Shelves

With my artists  in mind (inspiration and audience), I took a trip to the local dollar store and to the pricier art store to see what items were readily available to be “transformed” into something “cheap,chic and cheerful.”  Before I actually bought anything, though, I sat down and brainstormed, coming up with activities the girls could pull off with ease: four for the party, and one to take home as a little party favour (not that there would be any need for a ‘loot bag’ or party favours for a party in which the guests are making a series of take-home gifts). Then, I went back out to purchase the materials.

Set a Budget and Stick to It

I tried to keep each craft under the $30 mark. I did not want to exceed $150 including tax for the craft supplies.  One thing I learned to do was to look for items that come in multipacks.  I chose the sets of rulers at the dollar store that came in packets of 4, not the sparkly single ones, and I looked for canvases and safety scissors that came in packets of 2. The 10-packs of felt at the art store were cheaper than the single squares at the dollar store, etc. I also learned to check the length and volume of individual products. Sometimes, identical spools of ribbon or jewelry string but with more or less yardage and different sized bottles of acrylic paints or glitter would be offered for the same $1 price.  In the end, I spent a total of  $135 on all of the craft supplies, most of which came from the dollar store.  As I go along, I will make careful note to identify items that were purchased elsewhere.


Make a Set of Instructions! 

As I was trying out the crafts on my own, I decided that it would be a good idea to make little “intruction” cards both for myself and for the girls.  At the party, I ended up using these as my own guide, and I sent home copies for the girls on colourful 11.5×16.5cm index cards  in case they wanted to replicate anything with their parents later on.  On one side of the card, I printed the supplies and instructions for the activity. On the flip side, I printed a little artist bio that I could use to introduce the girls to the people who inspired the crafts of the day.  I will attach word docs and the text of the cards to each of the five craft pages to follow.

Since my husband was going to be printing out photo-strips of the guests during the party, I also spent a few minutes typing up a step-by-step guide for how to copy, paste, and print those photos quickly and easily. And I got the paper out and ready to slip into the printer.  This enabled him to spend as little time possible printing out pictures, and as much time as possible enjoying the party.


Baskets, Cups and Labels 

Once I vetted the crafts to see if they actually worked, I gathered the supplies necessary for each project into one of four large, clear plastic baskets or tubs.  Of course, I used what I had on hand…Laundry baskets or cardboard boxes would also work just fine.  I also used two sleeves of clear plastic drinking cups (25 for $1)  to organize indvidual groupings of items like beads, ribbons, and glass ornaments. And, since I had tons of bright fuscia Avery labels left over from our move a few years ago,  I decided to print up a few sheets of labels with the names of the guests. (As we all know, it’s tough to RSVP for your child on time…I organized everything as if every single child who had an invitation would be coming.)  The labels came in handy in hundreds of ways. A permanent marker would also suffice.

On the day of the party, I had four tubbies lined up on the sideboard in the dining room, filled with supplies, and ready to go. This made things  A LOT easier on the day of….

Optional “Loot Basket”:  The week before the party, I picked up a 9x12in basket for each guest at the dollar store and placed an avery label with their name on one of the handles.  I had these stacked in a pile at the outset of the party. These came in handy as a place for the guests to deposit their finished crafts after we’d finished each one.  Towards the end of the party, I snuck in the pre-wrapped Take Home Craft, and I placed their plastic-wrapped Mini Action Painting in the bucket, too.  This way, each girl went home with a basket full of goodies.



Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing information on each of our pARTy crafts on Here’s a list of the crafts I came up with. The links will go live on the day they are published:

Drip, Drop, Drag Drizzle: Mini Action Paintings – Inspired by Jackson Pollock

Pop Art Name Plates (a.k.a. Andy “Door-Hauls”)

“Secret Wish” Fashion Photo Ornaments – Inspired by Steven Meisel

“Chanel-Chic” Pearl and Ribbon Jewelry

DIY Frida Kahlo Flowered Headbands – A “Loot Bag” Craft

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