12 crafts for grandmothers and others

12 crafts for grandmothers and others

My friend Joyce is the most creative and crafty grandma I know. A quick perusal of the colorful and clever posts on her  blog, What Happens at Grandma's, confirms my assertion.

Joyce recently told me she thinks crafts are one of the top things grandmas search for online. Now, I trust Joyce's instincts, hence fully believe she's right in that grandmas hanker for handicrafts to make themselves or with their grandkids.

So I searched my own site to see what comes up. To my surprise, the result presented more than a few crafts. (After eight-plus years of blogging, it's easy to forget...

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DIY gift: Creative and colorful coffee cups

DIY gift: Creative and colorful coffee cups

On the lookout for inexpensive DIY goodies for holiday gifts? (And who isn't?) Here's an idea that went over swell for my youngest daughter's birthday this past summer.

Andrea loves coffee as much as her mother. For her birthday in July, she requested a set of special cups from which to drink and share her favorite breakfast drink. She even directed me to some ideas on Pinterest.

I accepted the challenge, tweaked a few Pinterest pictorials, and came up with these—a unique gift that cost less than $10.

diy coffee cups

What you need:

• Inexpensive, white ceramic mugs...

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Now is the time: Grandma Mail boxes

One of the more popular posts here on Grandma's Briefs has long been one in which I write about the little mailbox I made for Bubby to receive mail from Gramma. I've since made one for Mac, too — and should probably getting moving on Jak's, as well.

 grandma mail boxes

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I'm here today to tell you that if you want to create a Grandma Mail mailbox for your grandchildren, now is the time to stock up...

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Super simple DIY gift: Coffee Hand Scrub

Grandmothers and others who regularly deal with those germ-filled critters we call children wash their hands a lot. Even folks who don't interact with kiddos often wash their hands a lot. Or so I hope, considering all the crud out there of late. Crud that the passing along of can be cut down on by washing one's hands. Often.

coffee hand scrub

With all that handwashing going on, we're a nation with dry hands. Mine certainly are. Which is why I love this easy-to-make and...

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Upcycle this: Wax tarts from candle remainders

Upcycle this: Wax tarts from candle remainders

Wax tarts from candle remainders

I love candles. I don't love how so much of a candle goes to waste. Especially those expensive candles from fancy candle stores, the candles that cost so much yet smell so good. After burning about a third of the way down, the wick inevitably refuses to light and the wax goes to waste.

I have a cabinet where I keep all my jars of candles that no longer burn but have too much yummy smelling wax in them for me to, with clear conscience, throw in the garbage.

That cabinet recently became so full I couldn't...

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Tie-dye for tots... and older kids, too

My youngest grandson, Mac, doesn't have the penchant for craft-making that his older brother does. Bubby's attention span can handle a craft that has, say, six or eight steps, knowing there's a grand payoff at the end. Mac, on the other hand — because he's younger and always on the go, go, go — can handle a craft with one quarter that number of steps, and instant payoff of some sort is key.

Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), finding a craft that pleases both can be a challenge. This one, though — a tie-dye project of sorts — was a success. Mac created one or two and was done; Bubby made one after another until the food coloring bottles were nearly empty. Yes, success!


What you need:

• Coffee filters

• Food coloring

• Clothes pins (or large metal binder clips or large paper clips)

• Paper plates or newspaper — or both — for protecting the crafting surface


What you do:

This craft can be done indoors, but I chose to do it outside to take advantage of the desert weather. Warning: Don't do this outside if there's even the slightest breeze.


Flatten out a few coffee filters per child. Then fold in half and half again and half again, to create a long triangle or sorts. For each child, attach a clothespin to a folded coffee filter, to not only hold the coffee filter closed, but to create a handle for the child to hold the filter without ending up with technicolor hands.


Holding the filter over the paper plate or covered surface, have child carefully squeeze drips of color onto the filter, covering both sides of filter as desired.


Once the child has added all the color he'd like, an adult (again, to prevent colored hands on the child, at least to some degree) should carefully remove the filter and open it up, placing it to dry on the paper plate while a new filter is added to the clothes pin and a new creation started.


Allow the filters to dry completely, then display as desired. Bubby and Mac chose to hang all theirs on their family room window, which created a bit of a stained-glass effect they were quite proud of.


A fast, cheap and easy craft for kiddos with short or long attention spans — and for grandmas and others who claim they're not crafty (you know who you are!).


Today's question:

What did you most recently use food coloring for?

Organization tips for Grandma: Clever storage for toys and more

Note from Lisa: The following content is courtesy Family Features, tweaked for Grandma's Briefs.

To many grandparents, the process of keeping up with the grandkids' toys and more never seems to end. And while your home may never look quite like the perfect rooms in magazines, especially when the grandkids are visiting, a few clever solutions can make it easier to get — and keep — toys, books and clothes more organized.


Think Vertical

If the space where you most often entertain your grandkids is small or doesn't have a lot of built in storage, vertical storage may be helpful.

• Add wall hooks or a peg rack at a height your child can reach and hang up sweaters, pajamas, jackets and book bags.

• Tiered organizers that hang from a closet rod can hold small stuffed animals, clothing items, or shoes.

• Wall hangers with pockets can be hung on the back of a door to hold shoes, small toys and craft supplies.

Boxes, Baskets and Bins, Oh My

Use containers to keep toys and other items sorted and make it easy to put away. Label the outside with words or pictures to help your child know exactly where to put things.

• Home Bento boxes have internal flex dividers, which let you divide up the space within the box however you need it. Use them for small clothing items, craft supplies, small toys and games. They stack on top of each other, making it easy to maximize shelf space.

• Baskets are lightweight and often have handles, so it's easy for a child to take them off the shelf and put them back. Basket liners let you coordinate the look to match your child's room.

• Plastic storage bins can hold larger toys and play sets, off-season clothing and shoes. You can find bins to fit on shelves and under the bed, as well.

Make it Fun

There's no reason something as pragmatic as storage can't be fun, too.

• Keep pens, pencils and markers together in a plastic paint can or flower pot the kids have decorated.

• Place Velcro strips on toys and on playroom walls. Kids will enjoy sticking their toys to the wall, and you'll enjoy a cleaner play space.

• Get an unpainted wooden crate from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft stores, and paint, stain or decoupage it with whimsical colors and designs.

Get more great storage ideas and solutions at www.joann.com.

Project Time For Crafty Grandparents!

The fun Dotty Crate with Drawer pictured above is a great way to give grandchildren a fun and functional storage space — and you can get it done in less than a day.

Dotty Crate with Drawer

Some experience necessary

Crafting Time: 3 to 5 hours

Supplies and Tools:

    Wood crate with 1 drawer (available at craft stores)

    Soy Stains: Fruitwood, Cherry, Walnut

    Rubber gloves

    Old washcloth, soft rag

    Circle templates


    Ruler or yardstick

    1/2-inch flat paintbrush

1. Using rubber gloves and an old cloth, rub the lightest stain, Fruitwood, over entire piece, on every surface that will be visible.

2. Stain the middle slat of the drawer Walnut; stain the 2 adjacent slats Cherry. Repeat for the other side of the drawer; include slat edges when staining.

3. Lightly impress circles on the front of the drawer and the top of the chest using the circle template and stylus. On the sides of the chest impress lines for 2 stripes of different widths, using a ruler and stylus.

4. Fill in the circles and stripes with either Cherry or Walnut stain. For different stain intensities, 2 or even 3 coats of stain can be applied to some circles and some stripes.

Source: Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores

Today's question:

What's your top storage tip for all the fun stuff you keep for entertaining the kids?

Many word Wednesday: Grandma's Valentines

I recently succumbed to the One-word Wednesday meme. Once in a while, I must make it a Three-word Wednesday. Today, though, I pull out all stops and count not a word, for it will take far more than one and many, many more than three to explain this photo. Here are my many words:

All about Pinterest are cute crafts in which kids use their hands, feet, toes, thumbs to create mementos for Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, anyone who's into saving funny shaped ghosts, reindeer and more featuring an adored kiddo's paw print. I love these things, have made such things with my grandsons, even created a board in which I collect the ideas.

While perusing my Pinterest boards for ideas for Valentine's Day, I came across that board and decided to turn such handprints on their head, so to speak. I enlisted PawDad's help, and together we painted our hands to create a Valentine's Day masterpiece for our grandsons. Here's what we came up with (do note that the names inside the hand hearts are the boys' real names, changed here via Picasa magic to Bubby and Mac as that's they're assumed names on my blog):


Along with packages of M&Ms and a few deflated balloons on which I wrote messages o' love for each boy to appreciate once the balloon is inflated, this is what they get from Gramma and PawDad for Valentine's Day. I hope our grandsons love them as much as we love them—the boys, that is.

Full disclosure: I hung our first practice handprint—with J + L written in the center—on my refrigerator. I love not only my grandsons, but PawDad, too.

Today's question:

What are you sharing with your loved ones for Valentine's Day?

FAMILY photo frame: A crafty craft for the non-crafty

Not long ago, I shared directions for making a pillow chaise for kids. I claimed it was easy, something even those with minimal crafting experience could pull off with ease.

Well, I was wrong in making that claim. I immediately received comments on the difficulty of the chaise pillows for anyone who doesn't sew—which I hadn't really considered.

I have considered the non-sewers this time, and I offer you this: a craft that truly is easy and requires absolutely no sewing at all.

Can you spray spray paint? Then you can do this.

Can you use a glue gun? Then you can do this.

The "this" is a unique photo frame that looks far more crafty than it really is. If you can operate a can of spray paint and operate a glue gun, this is the craft for you.

The craft is a FAMILY photo frame. I made one for each of my daughters for Christmas, and they looked like this:


That's the one I made for Megan. Each frame I made was the same yet different, to match the different personalities and decor of my daughters. Bonus: Each featured buttons from Granny's button tin, bits from their paternal grandmother that I've pledged to share with my daughters in myriad ways.

Here is how to make a similar FAMILY photo frame for yourself or as a gift.

How to make a FAMILY photo frame

Here's what you need:

BRIANNA'S FRAME• 1 8X10 black wood photo frame

• unpainted wood letters: F A M I L Y (mine are 1 1/2 inch)

• 5 unpainted mini clothespins

• 1 8X10 scrapbook paper page — choose one in a pattern befitting the recipient's decor and interests, keeping in mind the frame will be displayed horizontally

• 5 buttons — I choose buttons to match the scrapbook paper, all from Granny's button tin but new buttons would work, too

• black spray paint

• glue gun and glue sticks

• 4X6 photos to display

Here's what you do:

1. Spread newspaper in an outdoor area where you can spray paint the letters and the mini clothespins. Spray one side of letters and clothespins, making sure all visible surfaces are painted. Don't worry about the wire clothespin clasps getting paint on them for they will work even when painted. Allow to dry.

2. Remove the back of the photo frame and place the scrapbook paper where a photo would go. Replace back.

3. Evenly center the dried FAMILY letters about an inch or so from the top of the horizontally positioned frame. Use glue gun to carefully glue letters in place.

4. Carefully position the five clothespins along the bottom frame, centering on edge so they won't break off when adding or removing photos. Use glue gun to glue each clothespin in its spot.

5. Once clothespins are securely glued and dried, carefully glue a button to the top of each clothespin. Ensure the top edge of the button meets the top edge of the clothespin so the entire button is backed by the clothespin stick. (If you don't have the entire button on the stick, the button will come off when subjected to the pressure of opening and closing the pin when adding or removing photos.)

6. Ensure glue has dried and all letters, clothespins, and buttons are securely in place, then add photos. (Vertical photos work best if using all five pins.)


Ready to hang and enjoy!

Of course, you can always create the frame vertically, just use fewer clothespins and letters in a size that ensures the word FAMILY fits.

There you go: A crafty craft for the non-crafty—with not a single stitch of sewing involved!

Today's question:

How many photo frames do you guesstimate are on display in your house?

How to make a pillow chaise for children

Every once in a great while, I surprise myself and do something that exceeds my expectations. Most recently, it was the making of the pillow chaise lounging thingees I gave my grandsons for Christmas. They turned out far better than I expected, and were received with far more appreciation than I thought might be the case, especially considering they weren't toys—which, as I learned here, are far preferable to practical presents.

What? You missed my post about giving Bubby and Mac their pillow chaises? Well take a look at their joy and ability to play slug in front of the television, thanks to a soft and comfy gift from Gramma.

At the time I posted that, many readers wondered about how to make them. So here I offer a gift to you: Directions on how to make the super simple pillow chaises.

I first saw this on Pinterest, but in all honesty I never looked at the directions and now I can't find the original pin. So what follows is my made-up method of providing rest and relaxation for little ones (or big ones, if you're so motivated).

The chaises are nothing more than four or more pillows sewn together. You can sew the ends closed, but I chose to use Velcro at the openings to allow pillows to be removed and covering laundered.

What you need (for one chaise):

• Four or more pillow cases — As my grandsons are only a few feet tall, four were enough; use an additional pillow case for each foot of your intended recipient's height over three feet.

• Four or more pillows — Same rule as above regarding the number to use.

• Velcro — Plan on 16 inches per pillow, enough to provide a closure for each pillow case.

What you do:

1. Using two of the four or more pillow cases, sew one to another along the long sides, with right side out and the openings on the same end. Create a half-inch seam allowance and use a tight stitch for strength. The seam will be showing on the outside; do not turn the pillow cases inside out. (Depending on your sewing ability and frustration level, you can pin the cases together before sewing.)

2. Using a third pillow case, sew it to one of the two that are already connected, ensuring openings are on the same end and seam will show on the same side as the first seam.

3. Do the same with the fourth and all additional pillow cases, always ensuring openings are on same end and seems will show on the same side.

4. Cut Velcro—both the hook and the fuzzy side—to fit inside the opening of each pillow case. Sew the hook side to one edge of the inside opening of each case, about half an inch from case edge. Then sew the fuzzy sides to the opposite side of each case opening, ensuring they match up with hooked Velcro beforehand. Again, you can pin first, if desired.

5. Insert a pillow in each case, then Velcro shut.

6. That's it! A simple pillow chaise for a child!

A couple notes:

• There's no need to use expensive pillows; I purchased the ones that are $2.50 each at Walmart. Using the $5 twin packs of pillow cases from Walmart, this made for a $20 price tag for each chaise of four pillows (not counting Velcro).

• The chaises can be used in a couple different positions, depending on how you prop the end pillow(s). One reader asked what kind of frame supports the pillows and the answer is that there is no frame—nothing but pillows, laying flat or propped up in various ways.

• As a child grows, you can easily add additional pillow cases and pillows to allow for the child's increased length.

• If you plan to mail the chaise to a faraway grandchild, your best bet is to mail the empty (but sewn together) pillow cases along with a gift card for purchasing the pillows. Otherwise, it's a rather expensive gift since even though the chaises are light, they're bulky and cost a crazy amount to ship. Trust me, for I learned this the hard (and expensive) way.

Of course, the chaises are soft and comfy and perfect for watching television, reading, or napping. That's not all, though. My genius grandsons quickly figured out they make great fort walls, as well.

Today's question:

What is your favorite position for watching television—sitting up, reclining, or a full-out sprawl on the floor?

Halloween fun: Simple spooky spiders

Doing projects together are one of the primary orders of business when I visit Bubby and Mac, as I did this past weekend. I like to have most of the items with me in my Grandma Bag, so I set out last week to accumulate ideas and came across this spider craft on Pinterest.

After tweaking just a tad, it turned out as easy and inexpensive as could be. Plus, our simple spooky spiders had just the right amount of creep factor to make it festive fun for four-year-old Bubby.

simple spooky spiders.JPG


Rock bodies — one per spider, about silver-dollar size

Wiggly eyes

Long pipe cleaners/chenille stems — four per spider

Black marker/Sharpie for drawing mouths, if desired (Bubby desired)

Craft glue

Hot glue gun and glue, for use by adult only


 1. Glue desired number of eyes on spider bodies, using craft glue.

2. Line up four pipe cleaners per spider...

...then twist together a few times in the center to connect them.

3. Give twisted legs and rock bodies to an adult (preferably a grandma) to attach legs with hot glue on bottom center of rock body, glopping the glue at the spot legs are twisted together. Let dry a few minutes before next step, to ensure legs are good and stuck and glue is no longer hot.

4. Use black marker to draw spooky—or smiley—spider mouths on each spider, if desired.

5. Bend each spider leg into creepy crawly position.

6. Sit back and appreciate your handiwork.

Mac, at 16 months, didn't care much about creating his own spider, which was fine with me as I'm pretty sure there'd be more wiggly eyes in his mouth than on the spider. He did, though, get quite a kick—and harmless scare or two—out of the completed spiders Bubby placed among his "collection of scary things" on the living room window sill.

Simple. Spooky. Success.

Today's fill-in-the-blank:

One of my favorite Halloween projects to do with kids is _________. (Links are welcome!)

Granny's buttons

I have two tins of buttons.

One is small and kind of boring. It's filled mostly with spare buttons in plastic packages, thrown into the can for safekeeping in the event a garment needs a replacement.

That small, boring can of buttons is mine.

Then I have a larger tin of buttons. It's filled to the brim with what looks like buttons, but they're actually treasures. Treasures from my mother-in-law, also known as Granny to most anyone who knows her.

Granny's tin of treasures became mine when she was moved into a nursing home a few years ago.

Inside Granny's tin that's now mine are hundreds of buttons. It's hard to imagine the years upon years of outfits losing buttons. Baubles and bits found in the washer or dryer on laundry day, buried deep in shag carpeting of long ago, or dangling frustratingly so by threads as one headed out the door to work, school, or special affairs.

Some of the buttons were surely from Granny's own dresses and blouses. Many more, though, likely wiggled their way off outfits worn by her six children, her first then second husbands, possibly even some from her nearly fifty grandchildren and great-grandchildren who stayed with her now and again.

Granny's tin also holds several cards filled with unused buttons, fancy bits never removed from their original packaging. Looking at them I wonder what plans Granny had for such treasures, plans she never realized for one reason or another.

I now have plans for Granny's buttons, for her treasures. I plan to share them with her many grandchildren. And her great-grandchildren, like Bubby and Mac, as well as her great-great-grandchildren, of which there are, surprisingly, already one or two.

I've not yet finalized the ultimate button-sharing plan, though, the projects I'll create to divide up Granny's buttons to be enjoyed by all. For now, I'm starting off small, passing them along to my children one by one, like this: 

When wrapping Andrea's birthday presents in July, I topped each with a button. One of Granny's buttons. One of Granny's treasures.

Brianna's birthday is this weekend. I'll be doing the same for her. Come Megan's birthday in December, she'll get treasure-topped gifts, too. Maybe my girls can start their own button tins with Granny's buttons.

I've pinned on my Pinterest boards several button project ideas and am still looking for more. Eventually I'll settle on one or two, then set to work sharing Granny's buttons. Her treasures.

In the meantime, I'll keep adding my own buttons and spare button packets to my own small, boring tin. Maybe eventually I'll need a bigger tin. Perhaps one day my tin will be like Granny's—filled to the brim with buttons.

They may look like buttons now, but they may one day be treasures. Treasures for my kids. For my grandkids and their kids, too.

Just like Granny's treasures. Just like Granny's buttons.

Today's question:

What do you do with your spare buttons?