Our Favorite Summer Crafts Part III

Hey there! We hope you had an amazing Independence Day last week and that some of the tutorials and recipes we shared made planning the day easier. Today we wanted to shift back to our summer craft series, showcasing some of our favorite crafts from around the web. With school out and long summer days to fill, sharing crafts just seems appropriate. Some of these would make great gifts or be fun ideas for party crafts, so enjoy and keep crafting.

Sumo Wrestler Bowling Pins – what an adorable way to recycle and create a game for hours of fun. This tutorial by Sugar and Dots is perfect for kids and adults alike.

Sumo Wrestler Plastic Bottle Bowling Pins – Image and tutorial by Sugar and Dots!

The Twenty Minute Tote – This simple tutorial by the Purl Bee only needs a few materials and is perfect even if you are a beginning sewer (or want to learn).

The Twenty Minute Tote – Image and tutorial from The Purl Bee.

DIY Workout Top – Such a cute and simple workout top—no sewing required, thank you Rabbit Food For My Bunny Teeth! You can use one of your favorite T’s that might be a little too big, or hit up a cool thrift store and get one just for the occasion.

DIY Workout Shirt – Image and tutorial by Rabbit Food For My Bunny Teeth.

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Happy New Year! Looking Back to the Best of 2012!

Image from the Huffington Post.

Happy New Year to all our readers and supporters out there! It was a fantastic year in 2012, we were able to help bring joy and relief to hundreds of kids in San Jose during their birthday months. And in 2013 we hope to reach even more :). With 2012 behind us it is important to reflect back on what was good, so today we have our top 5 posts from this past year! You guys really like to craft don’t you ;)!

Make A Birthday Wishes Top 5 Posts in 2012:

  1. DIY Decorations: Paper Stars – A great tutorial for handmade paper stars perfect for a party or just because!
  2. DIY Party Decorations: Pennant Banner – Both fabric and paper options abound in this post!
  3. DIY Owl Crafts: Part 1 – Seriously adorable owl crafts at a variety of difficulty levels! Who doesn’t love owls?
  4. DIY Crafts: Button Bracelets – So simple and so cute. These make great little gifts or packaging additions.
  5. 3 Party Favor Packing Ideas We Love – And apparently you love these unique ideas too!

What was your favorite post this past year? And what would you like to see more of in 2013?

If you are interested in supporting what we do at Make A Birthday Wish or learning more you can go to our website by clicking here. Have a great New Year’s Day!

Our Top Craft Books For This Holiday Season

If you are looking for a unique, thoughtful, and purposeful gift for a friend or your children, why not give them a book? Books make wonderful gifts and today we have selected 5 of our favorite crafting books. So you can be sure that your gift will not only give the gift of knowledge but also help unlock the creative juices of your someone special! Several of the books we selected even feature “green” craft ideas and specialize in crafts suitable for younger kids! Onto our picks!

Craft-A-Day: 365 Simple Handmade Projects

This wonderful little gem is jam packed with tutorials and crafting ideas. Great for adults and kids alike, and a pretty good bang for your buck at only $16.47 on Amazon.

Drawing Lab For Mixed Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises To Make Drawing Fun

This book is perfect for both seasoned drawers and beginners. It will help reinforce good techniques and expand any readers’ artistic side. And with 52 exercises, the book lends itself well to a year-long self-guided study in drawing. Pick it up from Amazon for $15.63.


Green Crafts For Children: 35 Step-by-Step Projects Using Natural, Recycled, and Found Materials

This book would make a great gift to both kids and parents looking for ways to engage their children in the arts while teaching them about environmental stewardship. A great deal at $11.73 on Amazon!


Sewing School: 21 Projects Kids Will Love To Make

This book is fantastic if you are interested in teaching your kids how to sew and is available on Amazon for $11.53.

The Big Green Book Of Recycled Crafts

A great collection of crafts that reuse, repurpose, and recycle materials into handmade treasures. Just $3.98 on Amazon!

Do you craft with friends or your family for fun? What kinds of crafts do you do?


Have A Paper Holiday: 3 DIY Paper Crafts For A Homemade Christmas!

At MABW we love crafting, reusing, re-purposing, and putting a personal touch on special occasions. Today we’ve got 3 tutorials to share with you that will have you crafting most everything you need this Holiday season with paper!

DIY Recycled Paper Tree

We love this idea! Imagine using brown packaging paper, newspaper, or magazines to make mini versions of this tree? Can you say great centerpiece for practically nothing?!!!

DIY Tutorial for Recycled Paper Christmas Tree by Casa Sugar

DIY Tutorial for Recycled Paper Christmas Tree by Casa Sugar

DIY Star Wars Snowflakes or Garland

These snowflakes would make any nerd proud. Such a fun idea, you could try it with different colored paper too!

Free Printable Template from Matters of Grey

Free Printable Template from Matters of Grey

Free Holiday Gift Tags

These printables from Sass & Peril make adorable homemade packaging a cinch this holiday season!

Gift Tag Printables by Sass & Peril

Gift Tag Printables by Sass & Peril

Which is your favorite holiday paper craft? We are partial to the Star Wars Snowflakes 🙂

4 Handmade Gift Tutorial Collections We Love

We hope you had a wonderful and loving Thanksgiving! But with the next round of holidays right around the corner there is little time to catch your breath. Don’t worry, we’ve collected some links to great tutorials for you and your kids to make handmade gifts this year! Handmade gifts can save money and are so much more personal. Oh and there are a lot of ways to reuse materials or repurpose scraps—making the handmade option more green! If you don’t have time to hand make gifts this year you should think about supporting artists and crafters that do hand make beautiful things on sites like Etsy! These tutorials make great gifts for kids and adults alike! We love the blog Everything Etsy, and she has rounded up 101 Simple Handmade Gift Tutorials for Kids! These would be great for your kids to make for their friends, or for you to make for them!

101 Simple Handmade Gifts for Kids by Everything Etsy

The 36th Avenue Blog has a list of 21 handmade gifts for guys! Great for husbands, boyfriends, dads, brothers, or just friends! Definitely worth checking out!

21 Handmade Gifts for Guys from 36th Avenue

The Huffington Post even came out with a list of last-minute handmade gift ideas that is worth perusing! These are great small gifts that would be worth making to have on hand for those times when someone unexpected comes over for the Holidays!

Homemade Gift Ideas: Quick and Easy Last-Minute Gifts by The Huffington Post

The blog The Tip Junkie is another great go-to gift-making guide. We love her collection of hand-made gifts you can see here.

Tip Junkie’s Homemade Gift Tutorials


Are you trying homemade gifts this year? Need some ideas? Let us know what you want to learn to do!

2 Easy Lunches With Homemade Hummus

On Tuesday we shared our versatile recipe for making your own hummus. Hummus is great  as a dip, but it also makes a great spread for sandwiches and wraps. So today we’ve got two easy lunch recipes to use your homemade hummus for! Enjoy 🙂


Crunchy Veggie Hummus Wrap


You can play with this recipe depending on the veggies you like, or add some cheese or olives for extra punch!


Veggie Wrap with Eggplant Dip

Veggie Wrap with Eggplant Dip (Photo credit: Vegan Feast Catering)



  • 1 whole wheat tortilla or wrap of your choice (there are some great low-cal options available these days)
  • 1/3 cup hummus
  • 1 to 2 tsp mustard (honey or spicy brown depending on whether you like it sweet or spicy)
  • 1/8 cup sliced or diced cucumber
  • 1/8 cup diced tomato
  • 1/8 cup sliced or diced bell pepper
  • 1/8 cup shredded carrots
  • 4 slices red onions
  • Spinach or any lettuce/leafy green you have on hand
  • 1/8 cup alfalfa sprouts



  1. Lay out your tortilla and spread the mustard and hummus on one side.
  2. Add the veggies, then add the spinach and sprouts last.
  3. Give an additional squirt of mustard if you wish, then roll up the tortilla.
  4. Slice in half or devour it whole 🙂

Hummus Powerhouse Sandwich

garden veggie sandwich

garden veggie sandwich (Photo credit: calamity_hane)



  • 2 slices of sprouted grain bread, lightly toasted
  • 2 tbsp hummus
  • 1-2 slices of Havarti cheese
  • 6-8 thin slices of cucumber
  • 1/8 cup shredded carrots
  • 2-4 thin slices of avocado (depends on how much you like avocado)
  • 1-2 slices of tomato
  • Handful of spinach
  • A lot of fresh sprouts



  1. Lightly toast the bread to give it a little durability.
  2. Slather hummus onto one of the pieces of bread then layer the cheese, cucumber, carrots, tomato, spinach, sprouts, and avocado.
  3. Top the sandwich off with the other piece of bread (and maybe a toothpick to keep it in place). Enjoy your veggie and flavor-packed lunch!

Which hummus and veggie lunch is your favorite?

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DIY Craft: Recycled Newspaper Beads!

It’s been a little while since we posted some fun crafting ideas, so here is one that we’ve done before! All the materials are super cheap, and all it takes is a little time. If you wanted to make this a party craft, make the beads ahead of time, then give the kids some paint and string to create their own unique jewelry!

This tutorial comes from a wonderful blog called A Storybook Life, and is very easy to follow. We will summarize, but it is worth checking out her step by step instructions (that include pictures!)


  • Old newspaper
  • Water
  • Glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill
  • Craft paint
  • Sealant such as Mod Podge or varnish
  • String or ribbon for creating a necklace


  1. Gather old newspaper, shred into small pieces and place in a large stock pot and pour enough boiling water in the pot to cover the newspaper.
  2. Let sit for one hour stirring the paper to help break it down.
  3. Drain the water as much as possible.
  4. Add enough glue to the paper to keep the beads together while drying (Elmer’s glue works great).
  5. Roll the paper into round balls (any size your heart desires) and squeeze out the excess water.
  6. Let them dry for a few days (rolling them every few hours) until they are dry. It took my beads about 2 or 3 days to be totally dry.
  7. Sand each dry bead to smooth some of the edges and drill a small hole through the center of the bead. This is a good stopping point if you want to use the craft as a party activity.
  8. Paint the beads with craft paint, then seal with Mod Podge or another sealant.
  9. When dry, string the beads onto ribbon or pretty string to create an awesome necklace!

We love this affordable and eco-friendly craft idea! What do you think?

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DIY Party Favors: Make Your Own Seed Bombs!

We came across a fantastic tutorial for making adorable seed bombs on a neat blog called Mademoiselle Chaos. We think these heart shaped seed bombs would make great party favors or gifts for guests at your next party!

What You Need:

  • Seeds – any kind of flower you like, preferably native!
  • Old newspaper
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Immersion blender
  • Sieve
  • Scrap cloth
  • IKEA’s heart-shaped ice-cube trays or any other soft silicon mold


  1. Shred the newspaper into tiny pieces or strips.
  2. Add warm water to the newspaper in a bowl.
  3. Using the immersion blender, blend your concoction.
  4. Add the seeds to your mixture.
  5. Line the sieve with the scrap cloth.
  6. Pour your mixture into the cloth-lined sieve and squeeze out as much water as you can.
  7. Take part of the semi-dry mixture and press it into the shaped ice-cube tray or silicon mold.
  8. After you have filled all the molds and the seed bombs have begun to dry, remove them from the mold.
  9. Place the seed bombs in a warm dry place to completely dry out. But don’t heat them up, or you will kill the seeds!
  10. Once dry, carry your seed bombs in your pocket and plant flowers wherever you go :).

We love these flower, fall pumpkins and leaves, butterfly, and dinosaur molds available on Amazon! The original tutorial with pictures and tips can be found here. What do you think of these adorable seed bombs? Will you make some for your next party?

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DIY Decorations: Yarn Chandelier

This awesome DIY decoration tutorial comes from blogger Nicole at Libby Lane! Her blog is full of great decorating ideas be sure to check it out. We especially love this tutorial that shows you how to make yarn chandeliers that you will want to keep up in your home year round! Give it a try and let us know what you think.


  • Yarn of different colors
  • School Glue (Elmer’s works nicely)
  • Corn Starch
  • Vaseline
  • Dowel rod/pole for hanging
  • Scissors
  • Balloons
  • Bowl for Mixing


  1. Blow up balloons: To achieve various sized yarn chandeliers consider using a large punching balloon as the main focal point and add standard balloons for the surrounding areas. Inflate the standard balloons to approximately half capacity to keep as true of a circular shape as possible.
  2. Assemble work space: Place a long pole or dowel rod between two chairs to create a DIY ‘drying station’. Place a plastic trash bag or disposable plastic tablecloth underneath where you will hang the balloons. Your lanterns will require some dry time so, it may be a project best suited for indoors or your garage where wind will not be a factor.
  3. Attach balloons to rod: Tie yarn around the stem of the balloon and hang from the dowel rod. Be sure that the balloon is suspended and not touching the surrounding balloons.
  4. Mixing: Cover each balloon in a light coating of petroleum jelly. This ensures that the yarn will not stick to the balloon once it is dried and popped. Next, mix the school glue (about half of the bottle) with approximately 1/2 cup of cornstarch and approx. 1/4 cup of water. You can add more cornstarch and glue if you need a thicker paste consistency.
  5. Wrapping the balloons: Dip the yarn into the glue mixture, squeeze out the excess, and begin wrapping the yarn around the balloon vertically and then switch to horizontally. Once you have covered a good part of your balloon, cut the yarn and tie to a surrounding piece. I chose to do this near the stem of the balloon so it would not be as obvious when hanging.
  6. Drying/popping: Allow yarn chandeliers to hang for 24 hours in a dry, covered area. Patience in this step is a virtue! DO NOT attempt to shorten this process! When your yarn is dry, it is time to pop the balloons! The dried glue crystals on the yarn will easily flake off when lightly tapped.
  7. Hang and admire your chandeliers!

Eco Friendly Gift Wrapping – No Green Required.

Traditional Japanese wrapping cloth,furoshiki,...

Traditional Japanese wrapping cloth,furoshiki,katori-city,japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everybody enjoys the excitement and surprise of unwrapping a gift, both on their birthdays and when the holidays roll around. But the impact of gift wrap and packaging on the environment and our wallets is staggering. Nearly 1/3 of the waste generated in the U.S. is made up of packaging materials. It has been estimated that if every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields! Even more incredible, if each family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

Greening the way we give gifts doesn’t mean using green paper or spending more green (i.e. money). Reusing materials and rethinking the way we wrap our gifts can reduce our impact on the planet, save our wallets, and create beautiful and personalized gifts. Some ideas you might consider:

  • Furoshiki – This is a Japanese tradition of wrapping gifts in cloth. Consider using scrap cloth from your sewing bin, old cloth napkins, sheets, curtains, or clothing that could make for beautifully wrapped gifts. Consider securing the gift with buttons, safety pins, ribbons, or knots.
  • Newspaper & Paper bags – There are lots of ways to personalize and embellish newspaper and paper bags to create beautifully wrapped gifts. You can add origami embellishments, ribbon, glitter, or stamps to dress up the packaging. If you are going the newspaper route it could be fun to highlight words that have meaning to the person you are giving the gift, or even make a puzzle about the surprise that is beneath the paper by highlighting clues!
  • Children’s Drawings – This is a great way to really personalize a present, and would work well for parents, grandparents, teachers, or anyone that has a close connection to your little one.
  • Old Shopping Bags & Gift Bags – It seems like common sense, but reusing the bag the store gave you to give your gift is a great idea. Again you can embellish it with ribbons or stamps to add a personal touch.
  • Old Maps or Posters – If you have old maps or posters lying around your house those can make excellent wrapping paper for gifts!
  • Wrap the Gift in a Gift – If you really want to be eco friendly try wrapping a gift with another gift. For example wrap jewelry or a small purse in a pretty scarf!
  • Cloth Bags & Sturdy Boxes – Using cloth bags or very sturdy decorative boxes means that your gift wrap can be reused for future gifts or for storage!

At Make A Birthday Wish we are accepting gently used gift bags or ribbons to wrap presents for children! So if you are interested in helping out and clearing out old bags send us an email at office@makeabirthdaywish.org and we can set up a way to collect your bags!

Do you have any of your own eco friendly ideas for wrapping gifts? Or any pictures of your green gift wrapping – share them with us!

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