The other day, I was talking to a friend of mine during an interview for her podcast and the subject came up of the $1 bins at Target.
You know the ones I mean… they greet you as soon as you walk in the door and try to persuade you into buying random things like foam door hangers, inspirational signs, kids’ socks and a selfie stick. It’s a rather hodge-podge selection of items, but they all have one thing in common - the “Well, it’s only a dollar… I mean it’d be a crime not to buy it, right?” factor.
This area can be particularly “dangerous” to crafters because of their unique ability to see the potential in everything from a plastic cup to a popsicle stick. And while I’ve never really been much of a crafter (except for a brief period of intense scrapbooking in my early 20’s), I do understand its appeal and have been to known to make a thing or two myself.
So, the other day as I chatted with my friend and then again later, when I was reminded that this is the same time of year as when another friend and I once attempted to recreate those pretty candy corn wine bottles you see on Pinterest… a thought occurred to me.
Most people probably think that if you’re a minimalist, you have to entirely give up crafting and decorating for the season.
But, I want you to know… that’s not true.
Yes, it is true that when living a minimalist or de-cluttered lifestyle, you keep less “stuff” around the house. That’s kind of the point. But, the point is also to get down to the basics of what really matters to YOU. So, if you truly enjoy crafting and creating things, then that should still be reflected in your home and the way that you live!
Like with most aspects of minimalism, it just comes down to being more mindful and intentional.
First of all, and perhaps most importantly, only do crafts if it’s truly something you enjoy doing.
Don’t do them because your friends do, the other moms in the neighborhood do or because you’re trying to be the perfect “Pinterest queen.” Only do them (and thereby, even worry about all the related crafting supplies) if YOU love it.
Narrow down your projects (and the supplies that go with them).
Now that we got that out of the way, the first thing to do is narrow your crafting down to a few of your favorites. This is a very common step in pretty much area of minimalism - you don’t keep ALL the clothes, you keep your favorites, the ones that work for your body and that you actually enjoy wearing. You don’t keep all the random kitchenware, you keep the things you actually use on a regular basis. (You get the point.)
So, it should be no different when it comes to your crafting supplies. Yes, I’m sure you CAN make something amazing out of feathers, some twine and a rock, but you don’t have to take it as a personal challenge every time you spot something cute in the store. Because that’s how you end up with boxes of random “supplies” or an entire room of your house that’s been taken over by unfinished projects.
Instead of picking up items with the idea of “I can probably use that” or “I’ll do that one day…,” stick with only the supplies you need for a particular project. Something that you actually enjoy and feel that you’re good at.
Remember to consider what projects you’ll actually want to display later as well. Since minimalism is all about getting rid of clutter, you want to stick only with things you’ll actually want to put out and enjoy for years (or at least months) to come. Not something you’ll end up just putting away on a shelf or in a box.
Use up the supplies that you already have.
Even though I am not a crafter, I have dabbled in it in the past and have a few hardcore crafting friends, so let me just say… I know how challenging this can be. I understand how exciting it can be to open up a fresh new pack of scrapbooking stickers or a new set of markers, but chances are, you probably already have plenty of supplies at home that you can use. So, save yourself some money and clear out some of that clutter by using up those supplies up first.
Reuse materials from around your house.
In fact, why not take things up a notch and reuse things around your house that you might not have even thought about (put that creative Target brain to work!). There are tons of materials around your house that can easily be used for crafting - empty wine bottles, scrap paper, old jewelry, old clothing or towels, even the leaves, sticks and pine cones outside your door.
If you do a quick search on Pinterest, you can find tons of cute fall and winter craft ideas that use things you already have around your house like luminaries made from coffee cans or jam jars, pumpkins made out of books or Tide Pod containers (although I hope you’re not using these…) or even giant acorns made from salad bowls and old sweaters!
You can also find stores that re-sell art and craft supplies by searching a site like ArtofRecycle.org. You still don’t want to go overboard by coming home with loads of things you don’t need. But, you can feel better about getting the materials you do need for your projects at these types of stores because you’re reusing resources instead of consuming new ones.
Go out to make your crafts.
This is probably my favorite tip for crafting as a minimalist because it also plays into the concept of “bucket list living.” Both minimalism and bucket list living are about having less and doing more. About focusing your time, money and energy on experiences as opposed to possessions.
So, instead of buying some random do-dads from the store and hoping that you’ll find some time at some point in your busy schedule to sit down by yourself and turn it into something Pinterest-worthy, why not turn the whole thing into an experience with your family or friends?
You can go to a paint-your-own-pottery studio, a BYOB painting class or take a craft class at a local store like Michael’s. Not only will you not have to buy a bunch of supplies that will end up cluttering your house, but it will also turn into a fun night (or day) out! And you’ll still end up with a craft to display and decorate with as a bonus.
Give the supplies you don’t need new, loving homes.
It might sound a little silly to talk about craft supplies like they were an animal being adopted from a shelter, but people can often hold on to craft, art or hobby supplies for too long because they feel guilty for not using them or sometimes, because they belonged to a loved one that has passed away.
But, holding on to them forever in some random closet of your home isn’t going to make you one day magically turn into a quilter, knitter, needlepointer, etc. Or serve as some type of tribute to your loved one.
So, instead, why not get the supplies into the hands of someone that will truly enjoy them and use them? When I downsized into a 160 square foot tiny house on wheels, I got rid of a craft cart I had had for years that was full of all kinds of supplies, everything from soap and candy making to scrapbooking and latch hook. I hadn’t touched it for years. But, I had a friend who actively crafts all the time, so I gave her the entire cart and you would’ve thought it was Christmas morning!
When my mother passed away, my sister and I were left with all of my mother’s knitting supplies including needles, yarn and even some unfinished projects. Of course, there was some nostalgia attached to them, but we both knew that no matter how much we loved our mother, neither of us had any desire to knit ourselves. So, we gave all of them to one of her high school friends who actually enjoyed knitting and it made us feel good, knowing that they would be used and enjoyed.
If you don’t really have anyone in your circle of friends or family that would use them, you can always donate them to schools, senior centers, art studios or thrift and re-sale stores who would be more than happy to take them off your hands!
Get your craft on.
And that’s it! Go ahead and get your craft on… make that sparkly pumpkin or that leaf mosaic. Just be mindful and intentional - stick with things you love, reuse as many materials as you can and then don’t forget to enjoy your finished product!
Until next time… keep your worries tiny and your dreams BIG!