Sunday, November 7, 2010

Challenge 1: dollar store hostess gift

As a part of this blog, the two of us have decided to break up the posts by having a challenge after 4 posts. And a challenge it was! The challenge this time was to create a host/ess gift for under $10 (not including tax) at the dollar store.

The essence of this challenge was to produce a low cost, yet impressive gift for a host/ess that you didn't particularly know well and didn't want to spend a ton of money on (yet still impress and not LOOK frugal)

5 previously owned items could be used but they must have been in our possession for at least 1 month prior to the challenge date. We also got to use as much glue and our scissors as much as we wanted. This challenge didn't start out so black and white. It took us a while to be on the same page about this challenge and it's details, but here are the results (and aren't they marvelous??)


What I wanted to do for a HOSTESS gift required materials that were pretty much out of the dollar store range. Not by a lot, but I didn't previously have things like spray paint, rubber stamps, etc, which I acquired much later. However, it didn't really jive with the challenge  because I was buying these things with the challenge in mind. Which really made it.. not so challenging. So I had to reconsider.

I went back to square one and to the most basic gift idea that I had. A notebook. Because, who doesn't like customized stationary? I was always jealous of the Annas, Katherines and Jessicas because at the dollar store they could always find a pencil or key chain with their name on it. Always. With a name like Katelyn, it was very rare. Even now, Blogger is assuming my name is some sort of typo and putting a red line under it. Hmph.

So custom stationary it was. But then I had MORE trouble. I can't really customize a pen, and what else could I possibly do? After wandering the dollar store for about 2 hours, it finally came to me (in a panicked rush, as I didn't want to be late for yoga). File folder and bookmark. Done. Another difficulty- This challenge didn't allow me to use a stamp set I had been counting on, so labelling the set was another problem. I grabbed a gold paint pen, cardboard label frames, and I was done. Oh and by the way? The dollar store I was at had sold items that were more than $1!

Items from the dollar store:
  • Hardcover notebook (NOT spiral bound)
  • Scrapbooking paper, 12" by 12"
  • Gold paint pen
  • Spool of fabric ribbon
  • Small file folder
  • Decorative label frames and tags
Freebies (things I already had that I was allowed to use)
  1. Sewing needle and 'invisible' thread (looks like skinny fishing line, couldn't find thread same colour as ribbon. At first needle and thread were going to be two items, but then I thought, how can you use one without the other? You can't really, not to sew. It's like having one scissor arm without the other.)
  2. Card stock, 1 sheet
  3. Buttons (2)
  4. Hair elastic (unused)
  5. Sharpie pen
Because this post is already word heavy, I will just put up the pictures. I think you'll get the point.

A word about this project though: While it is great, MAKE SURE TO SPELL THE HOST'S NAME RIGHT. Seriously, double check. Because otherwise you end up embarrassing yourself and the recipient. You know how I know this? Because a lot of people don't get MY name right. And that really sucks. And then I don't have the heart to tell them. And then they continually spell my name wrong forever. This happened with the GM of a company I used to work for...But onwards...

The raw materials
Creating the book jacket, make sure to glue everything, including the crease of the spine. Then tuck and glue everything in, including the spine. You might have to cut some flaps so that your corners don't bunch up.
Afterwards, securely glue a sheet of card stock over all of the flaps and creases on the inside. You can also add pockets!
Tuck in the corners of the scrapbook paper to make a pocket, gluing the flaps onto a piece of card stock and glue the card stock backing directly onto the card stock of the inside cover.

And glue tabs wherever you like!
Using the gold pen, I 'painted' 2 tags so that they had a gilded look. They were also patterned underneath and I didn't want pattern clash overload! These will go on the cover of the file folder and notebook.

A brilliant bookmark idea, modified from Mary Janes and Galoshes . I made mine adjustable by adding 2 buttons.
Next, glue scrapbook paper onto the top of the file folder. Unfortunately, mine yielded terrible, ugly glue spots on the reverse after it dried. What should I do??
Of course! Cover it in paint-pen ink! I coloured it in and glued a band of ribbon across to tie the whole gift together. I only glued the ends and the middle to create a place to tuck small papers. Functionality, yay!
The finished product! A joy to make, taking only about 2 hours.  You can totally make it in advance for a quick present on-the-go. Love it!


Maggie:  This was a sizeable challenge for two reasons.  (1)Find something that all people need or like and (2) find the materials at a dollar store.  When I was in the brainstorming process for this challenge, I tried to think of universal human needs…   Food, shelter, etc etc etc.  Then it occurred to me that instead of thinking of universal human needs, I should be brainstorming universal human problems instead.  To which one thing popped into my mind—germs.  We all have germs.  This probably is the most prevalent human problem in my world because I am a pre-kindergarten teacher and my twenty-two kiddos constantly remind me how germ-y we are.  My kids aren’t very happy to share their toys, but they are more than willing to share their germs.   

Back to the point, we all need to wash our hands (well, we all should wash our hands).  So, I embarked on a journey to my local Dollar Tree (where absolutely everything is $1.00 or less) with the function in mind (soap dispensing, germ killer!).  I had less direction in the area of form (how was I going to make soap dispensing, germ killer appealing to an unknown host?).  Fortunately, inspiration struck while I was at the dollar store. 
I found an odd set of dispensers.  They had different lids, but the same type of base, so I decided oh well about the lids, it will work.  Also found a glass candle holder and a candle that was perfect because it matched the base color of the dispensers. Decided with a little TLC, these dispensers and candles could work...

  1. Soap dispenser (1)
  2. Soap dispenser (2)
  3. Candle holder
  4. Candle
  5. Crocheted doily
  6. Hand soap (1)
  7. Hand soap (2)
  8. 1 bottle of body cream
  9. 1 pack of acrylic paint (didn't end up using the paint, but did use the paintbrush!)

  1.  Modge Podge
  2. Acrylic paint (silver)
  3. Acrylic paint (blue)
  4. Sharpie pen
  5. Rubber bands (2)

The How to...

 Paint lids

Secure doily on soap container with two rubber bands

With sharpie, trace the pattern of the doily onto the soap container.

Paint design onto containers. 

I wanted to make a two-toned design, so I repeated the steps of securing the doily, sharpy-ing the design, and painting the design with the contrast color.  Repeat steps for candle holder!!

Pour lotion & soap into containers.

As a final step, cover everything with a generous coat of Modge Podge to seal everything up.

Helpful tips:
1.  Pick a lotion and soap that are somewhat cohesive. 
My soap was raspberry vanilla and the lotion was just vanilla...
Thus, a theme of vanilla. 
(And the candle was vanilla scented as well!)
2.  Pick neutral colors. 
If you do not know your host very well,
pick colors that will nicely mesh with a
typical kitchen or bathroom. 
3.  Be patient. 
The more time you put into the sharpy-ing and painting,
the sharper the lines, the more professional it will look.

So, when you put it all together...



$10 at the dollar store + 5 previously owned items + as much glue or scissors as necessary = stationary set


$10 at the dollar store + 5 previously owned items + as much glue or scissors as necessary = soap/lotion set


stationary set = soap/lotion set?

I was never very good at geometrical proofs.
Challenge 1.  Success.


  1. Very neat ideas and awesome challenge idea! Sounds like a tonne of fun :D
    Katy; I love the folder and what you did with it! So creative and so clean looking.
    Maggie; Awesome design! It's so neat that you used a doily for the pattern, and the pattern looks terrific.
    Awesome hosting gifts. Can't wait to see more!

  2. These are the coolest ideas that I would never be able to think up myself! I have seen both in person and they are both amazing presents!

  3. So clever and creative! It's so nice that you put a lot of thought into a gift even though the premise was that you wouldn't know the hostess that well.


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