DIY – Something For (almost) Nothing

image via adailysomething blog

DIY at its best transforms creativity into cost cutting solutions, particularly during the coming holiday season that stretches most budgets to their endurance.

With Halloween looming only a frightening couple of weeks away, even those of us turned firmly away in useless denial from the fading glow of long warm summer days are forced to pull heads from sand and plan for the grind of holidays that persist until the New Year.

I prefer to stretch my imagination rather than my budget – with a crew the size of mine, I am ceaselessly on the look out for DIY inspirations that make the more of less so that my budget can be effectively distributed between food and thoughtful gifts.

Every year at Thanksgiving, overcome with family attendance I have to rent additional tables and empty the living room to accommodate 23 people! Every dime spent on decorating dips into the budget for food, which this year spans diabetic recipes, allergy sensitive recipes, and folks whose life philosophy does not include meat…my only weapon in catering to this tide of diversity is planning! As such I was really inspired by this practically free hanging test tube installation that I found on

I love white birch. It tests all my resolve to avoid one-trick-pony repetitions in my designs; I just find everything about it irresistibly alluring – as much as I love floating displays!

image via adailysomethingblog

You will need:
– scissors
– 2 screw hooks
– fishing line
– white electrical tape
– test tubes (Rebecca at adailysomething used a mixture of test tubes and rain gauges from Lowe’s)
– a tree branch – you don’t have to us white birch but it’s perfect!

image via adailysomethingblog

1. Screw the hooks into each end of the branch

2. Attach a length of fishing line to screw hooks to hang from ceiling. Temporarily hang branch (I hung it from the fence in the backyard!) to attach test tubes.

image via adailysomethingblog

3. Cut a strip of electrical tape long enough to wrap around the test tube you are using,  then cut a length of fishing line to hang the test tube. You’ll want to make varying lengths to stagger your display, and the length will depend on where you are hanging the installment and how high above the table your display needs to be (remember to account for table candles, cake stands and raised warming trays). Loop precut fishing line over the branch, then attach the fishing line to the test tube using the electrical tape. Press the tape firmly against the test tube. Repeat for all your test tubes.

image via adailysomethingblog

4. Fill test tubes with water.

image via adailysomethingblog

5. Arrange fresh greens – Rebecca used ferns, tomato plants, and two lovely weeds. If you are considering a Thanksgiving display, and you live in an area where local fauna has succumbed to frost by late November you can always use fresh herbs and carrot tops from your local grocer.

image via adailysomethingblog

Just stunning!

image via adailysomethingblog

DIY to the rescue –

Can’t wrap your budget around coordinating stemware that face certain demise at the hands of smaller family members? Why put anyone who comes to the table through the mutually mortifying event of braking your glassware when yo can DIY some of these painted paper cups I saw on Design Sponge!

Image via Design Sponge

The inspiration for the watercolor party cups came from Stephanie Polli. This project is simply genius; we are all looking to decorate in a way that makes a mark and creates a solution, and Thanksgiving for 23, and care and break free is not only smart, creative design; it’s just short of miraculous at less than $10.

You can create your own paette to coordinate with your tableware and floral arrangments, and I think this would be stunning mixed with some cups that are color dipped. Shopping for disposable tableware options can leave one overwhelmed by holiday kitch or reeling with sticker shock at solutions that are throw-away both in terms of items and budget. These hand-paint watercolor designs put a really fresh designer plain old paper cups!


  • 16 oz. paper coffee cups
  • wide, flat paintbrush
  • acrylic paint
  • water
  • tarp or covering for work surface


1. Place the protective covering over your work surface. Paint will flick as you’re working, so make sure you’re not wearing your favorite shirt – acrylic paint is permanent!

Image via Design Sponge

2. Squeeze a little paint into a cup; about 1/2 a teaspoon for 13 cups. Slowly dilute with water, mixing with your brush.

Image via Design Sponge

3. Apply thin strokes to your cup. Feel free to experiment, but don’t paint the cup to the brim, so guests are not left putting their lips to dried paint.

4. Line up your cups to dry. It takes about an hour and avoids color bleeding.

Image via Design Sponge
Image via Design Sponge
Voila! I saw those pole-striped gray straws today at TJ Max for just $3.99! Thanksgiving for 23, here I come!
Why not finish with a butcher paper wrapped table?

image via clog blog

Almost everyone has seen the images of this grade school room gone sticker wild…this may be a bit much, but simple stickers can be a fun decoration for a table dressed in simple brown paper. They are very inexpensive, come in varying colors and are available at most office supply stores and departments.

image via sticker depot

So use your imagination to plan, create and save $$$ for the more permanent and lasting aspects of your design!