Crafting Tips & Hacks for Busy Families

Does the thought of a craft make you cry or cheer? I am definitely on team cheer. I love a good craft. I have oodles of crafting supplies and have been known to dream up some pretty crazy projects. I can’t help myself, it’s just how my brain works.

This can be a good or a bad thing, of course. Friends know they can turn to me with their crafting dilemmas. I’m sure to know where to find the best clear plastic plates for snow globes (Party City), or who has the best price on card stock (Target). 

On the flip side, my brain is often in creative overdrive and I take on really, really big projects.

Having kids taught me a lot, too. I have four, ranging in age from elementary to high school. Years of school projects and birthday parties have sharpened my crafting skills. I’ve learned what items I should buy stock in (Crayola Washable Markers) and what items to run from (kinetic sand, NO THANK YOU).

I’ve rounded up my best tips and tricks for you here. They’re sure to get you through the trickiest of crafting situations.

Welcome to our Mom Hacks series where we provide moms and dads around West Michigan with our favorite tricks for surviving this gig called Parenting. Many thanks to Family Fare Fast Lane for partnering with us on this family-helping project.

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2 Bonus Hacks to Elevate you to Craft Queen Status

You may have heard before that 90% of a job well done lies in the prep work. The same is true with crafting. Set yourself up for success with these simple supplies and organizational tips.

1 – These Six Affordable Supplies Are All You Need

The very best crafting tip I can give is to be prepared. This doesn’t require a long, overwhelming trip to the craft store. 

I’m just talking the basics – a few things that will last a long time and serve you well. I’m going to assume you have a few things (paper, scissors, markers or crayons, glue stick), but to really make crafts quick and easy, you need a few extra tools.

A paper trimmer, white card stock, single hole punch, large paper punch in any basic shape, washi tape and string will soon prove to be staples in your home. You may even be able to find some of these in your local grocery store.

A color printer is helpful but not necessary.

2 – Label Everything

Yes, I’m giving you permission to buy more bins. Sort craft items by type and label the bin accordingly. It’s so nice to be able to say “go get the painting bin” and for everything to be there, ready to roll. It makes clean-up easier, too.

If your kids aren’t reading yet, label the bin with a picture of what’s inside. Make sure it’s not too big or heavy for them to carry.

8 Kid Craft Hacks That Anyone can Do

1 – Beat Them to the Punch and Set up the Craft Space First

If you know you have a long day ahead, or if you’re just trying to earn some parent points, set up a surprise crafting station. While your kids are asleep or away, clear off the dining room table and put out all the supplies they need to make bracelets, paint, play with play doh, etc.

Consider everything they’ll need for the activity, and lay it out nicely for them to “discover.” Add fun touches like juice boxes or snacks if you feel like it.

In our house, this works best when I lay everything out and let the kids “find it” themselves. If it’s my idea, it’s terrible, but if it’s their idea it’s the best ever. Very similar to when I deep clean their room or playroom and they magically find all their old toys.

2 – Washi Tape Makes Everything Better

I reach for my washi tape all the time, so I store it in a clear jar right on top of my desk. 

Washi tape fancies up just about anything. Use a strip to seal a birthday card, on school projects, or even to label something. 

Same goes for my collection of tags – tie one on to a bouquet of flowers or a bag of cookies and you’ve just taken your gift up a notch.

3 – Glitter is not Your Friend

But glitter paper is. It’s inexpensive and way easier to contain. Pick up a few pieces in your favorite colors and have them on hand for special projects. 

Use a paper punch to cut out shapes. (Pro tip – buy glitter paper in your child’s school colors. It’s nice to have those colors on hand for school projects.)

4 – Keep a Stash of Brown Paper Lunch Bags

I know these seem boring and old fashioned, but brown paper lunch bags are a workhorse. I use them when I need a disposable lunch (field trips), to pack up holiday treats, to serve popcorn, or even as makeshift gift bags.

They’re inexpensive and endlessly versatile. I’ve even used them as serving pieces, with the sides rolled down and filled with hard candy, utensils, or napkins.

5 – Use Your Recycling for Projects

I often reach into the recycling when I need something. Cardboard = cereal boxes, shipping boxes. Paint palette = yogurt containers. Vase = glass pasta sauce jar, jam jar, salad dressing bottle. Scoop for sensory play = milk jug with the bottom cut off.

6 – Download Free Printables for Holidays, Birthdays and Parties

When the going gets tough, turn to free online printables. There are so many great items out there. Try search terms like “free thank you printable,”  “free holiday printable,” or “free birthday printable.” 

Quickly print out a greeting card, birthday party decorations, or even swap out framed art. 

I often search “free coloring pages” when my daughter is bored and wants to color. She loves picking out pages and watching them come off the printer.

7 – Regularly Search the Dollar Aisle for Useful Craft Items

The dollar aisle is a gold mine of crafting basics. (As if we need another reason to visit the dollar aisle.) Use a free printable to quickly gussy up a plain pennant or sign. When you’re done, remove the free printable and store until the next event. 

I’ve used the signs above over and over again.

8 – Find a Play-doh Recipe you Like and Keep it Handy

Homemade play doh is easy to whip up and keeps kids busy for hours. I make our play doh with Kool Aid and set it out with plastic forks, straws, and cookie cutters for my kids to play with. I’ve even given it out as party favors.


I hope this helps you for long afternoons at home, the school year ahead, or even potential snow days.

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