Thrifty Thursday - The Best Bang-For-Your-Buck Craft Supplies


The name of this blog is "Mess For Less," so obviously we like making messes and we like saving money. If you are looking to purchase some supplies for playing and crafting but are on a budget,  check out these inexpensive supplies that you will return to again and again.

We make our own play-dough so it's very cheap. Here is a link to our favorite recipe. Here's a tip - keep it in the refrigerator when you are not using it. It will last longer and the coolness provides a neat sensory experience. 

There are so many things you can do to change up play dough and get a new experience each day. A few ideas: add cookie cutters and pretend to bake, roll into balls, hide small toys inside, use with muffin cups for pretend cupcakes. We enjoy adding some feathers and googly eyes to make monsters.

Contact Paper
When you see this at the dollar sore, get it as it's more expensive elsewhere. Even if you end up paying a little more, it's worth it as there are just so many fun crafts and activities you can do with your little ones. 

Some ideas: use the contact paper as a canvas and provide tissue paper for children to tear and stick on the contact paper, add another piece of contact paper to that to seal and cut out shapes to make sun catchers, or just tape a length of contact paper to the floor and have the kids run through it. We call this game "sticky feet."

Maybe it's because I have 3 girls, but in my book there is nothing that glitter can't make better. I get mine at Michael's or JoAnn with a 40% off coupon to save money. Also, I find that a little goes a long way and glitter seems to last forever at our house.

Some ideas for glitter: add to play-dough for a sparkly surprise (silver glitter added to white play dough is great in the winter), combine with oil and water to make a lava lamp, decorate ornaments at Christmas.

Food Coloring:
Food Coloring is truly the MVP in any crafty mom's arsenal. I need to look into buying giant vats of this stuff because we use it all the time. 

Some ideas: add a few drops to milk and then use to paint toast, popcorn and marshmallows, add to cornstarch and water to create sidewalk paint, add some water to an ice cube tray and use food coloring and a dropper to learn about color mixing. 

I hope these were helpful to you. There are lots of ways for kids to have fun and learn using a few basic supplies that you can modify in various ways.



  1. I have also lucked out during clearance sales - a store near me had Christmas glitter colors marked down 75% after the holidays. I snatched up a bunch! This is a great post! You have inspired me to try making play-dough:) Thank you!!

  2. We make our own play-dough too. However, I'm the mom that hates glitter. I'd rather let my kids loose with washable paint, because it goes away after I clean. We probably free paint more than anything, so I wait for it to go on sale, or use the coupons at craft stores to stock up on paint, papers and different brushes.