Go on vacation- at Goodwill!

Feeling a bit of spring break travel FOMO? Or perhaps dreaming of a vacation that may not be in the cards on this year’s budget? I know I am. Just a few minutes on social media lately has me seriously jealous of the warmer climes. Never fear. As usual, Goodwill® has us covered. Just one trip can have you looking and feeling like an international jet setter.

Don’t believe me? It’s road-trip worthy in it’s own right. But also, thrift stores are a souvenir treasure-trove and a hub of international style and decor options. Finding a little style inspiration is all you need to make you feel like you’re counting the days until your own relaxing adventure. Just check out Instagram for lots of awesome vacay style looks you can keep in mind as you peruse the Goodwill aisles.

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Credit: @ashleerosehartley

Sometimes the swimwear section is easy to forget at Goodwill, but trust me, there are treasures there to be had as well. Often overlooked, this is a great place to find a second tankini top to match the bottoms you love or a suit in a style you’ve been dying to try out without the hefty price tag. These Goodwill finds below are proof you can bring a splash of the Caribbean to any pool party, even if it’s just sippin’ lemonade in a kiddie pool on your patio.

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I also just love finding items that somehow found their way into my local Goodwills from far-flung places. Little bits of vintage souvenir flair in the form of t-shirts, mugs or artwork makes me feel a little more connected, and give my home a little more of that jet setter vibe. It’s especially fun if it’s a place I’ve already been and have fond memories of.

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Credit: @DamnFineCoffeeMugs

Or handmade little pieces like this that give your home a little taste of distant cultures and major travel lust.

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Credit: Jenna Pfueller

Are you lucky enough to actually be headed somewhere to kick back and relax? Good on ya!

Obviously, you’ll need to make a point to visit a Goodwill when you get to your destination, too. Just search our site for locations and make a date of it. It’s a perfect way to get to know the local culture a bit more, find something you may have forgotten while packing, and of course, a perfect little something to remember your trip with so you have plenty of moolah for the ride home.

See? It’s easy to take a vacation at Goodwill. It’s a respite that’s always full of surprises, inspiration, fun, sustainability, and even creates jobs. Now that’s a true destination to embrace!

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Thrifty Springtime Room Refresh

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All winter I look forward to opening the windows when spring arrives so I can feel that first fresh breeze blow through. It’s such an inspiring feeling that I wanted to capture it to enjoy year-round. Well, I can’t do that. But I can give my bedroom a refresh that reminds me of it! Read on to find out how I brought a spring-like feel to my bedroom to keep that cheerful mood all year.

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When I look at the before picture of my bedroom I think “Yikes! Does someone even live there?” It’s an oddly shaped room which presents its own challenges and it has never felt cozy. Having spent forever on the back burner to our other home projects, it was clearly time for a new look. A fresh start for spring.

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I started this revamp the same way that I start every organization or cleaning spree—by pulling out everything I don’t like about a space. I eye and assess each item as I go. If I don’t need something and don’t like it, I’ll toss it in the donate bin. If I do need something (like all of the fabrics that are hiding in the paper bag in the before photo), but hate the way it looks, I remove it temporarily until I can come back with a solution. Whatever’s left after I sift through everything will serve as the foundation upon which I build a new decor scheme so I try to look at what’s left with fresh, objective eyes before I go out shopping.

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The solution for the fabric pile ended up coinciding with one spring-like theme I knew I wanted to bring in: picnicking. It was easy to capture the mood of this fun spring activity by adding in basket-weave textures so that was one of the first shelves I swung by on my latest Goodwill trip. Both of the winnowing baskets that I hung on the wall plus the large basket that is now home to my fabrics jumped right out at me. Fabric storage problem solved! Picnic mood accomplished. The rest of my issues pretty much sorted themselves out as I updated the space using these room refresh tips…

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Tip 1: Bring in spring colors. First, I removed the heavy, dark colors that were clouding up my bedroom. Of course pastels are a spring staple, so I knew I wanted to include more pink and light blue when I was ready to add things back in. Two easy ways to do this are with books and blankets. You can’t have too many of either! I never skip the book section of my local Goodwill for exactly this reason. Books can be displayed in so many beautiful ways and they’re entertainment at the same time!

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Tip 2: Shop your own home! Although you will need to bring in a few new (to you) pieces for the space to feel really fresh, you can first walk around your house looking for the right colors or items to rehome. If you don’t absolutely love something where it is, try it in the room you’re reworking. I do this a lot and end up seeing new potential in items that I never saw before! For example, you may recognize the little ceramic bunny from a previous post. I got it from Goodwill last year, but rabbits are so perfect for spring that I wanted to try it in my room. I did a little brainstorming and realized that with some antlers (which I made from Sculpee), a shallow thrifted bowl, and glue it could become a bedside jackalope ring holder. It’s a giggle and good storage all at once.

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Tip 3: Add height for an uplifting feeling. If you look at the before and after photos, you can actually see the room rise a little after being restyled. Just by adding height to the arrangement on the right side of the headboard, putting the winnowing baskets up, and fluffing/bringing in more pillows, the room feels lighter and more uplifting. I thrifted the green lamp from Goodwill years ago and added that floral fabric to the shade myself. It worked in the space where it originally lived in our old apartment, but it has never felt right in this home. So, for this room refresh I peeled the old fabric off and replaced it with a fresh white. It felt so cramped down in that nook where it was. Moving it up shows it off so much better and elevates the space!

Tip 4: Bring in plants and flowers (even if they’re fake). Rooms feel instantly more alive with greenery and blooms, so I made sure to include some in this refresh. I already had the faux flowers on the left side of the headboard, but I brought in two real plants as well and they made a huge difference! There’s nothing more exemplary of spring.

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Tip 5: Soften the surfaces. Another important piece that improved my room was the addition of more plush surfaces. In the picture above you can see two whole shelves of throw rugs at my local Goodwill. There was another shelf under it filled with even more plus rug pads, too. I had been looking for a runner to go at the foot of my bed, but nothing felt quite right until I realized I could use two slightly overlapping mats for the same effect! These coupled with my new pillows made the place feel so much more inviting.

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Speaking of pillows, the pink one is another DIY! My Goodwill always has fun throw pillows for sale. While browsing, I almost bought this light gray one from Calvin Klein, but ended up skipping it in favor of more color. Neutrals are fantastic, but I knew I already had enough in this room. So I set my sights on the fabric racks to make my own instead. Thrifting fabric is definitely the cheapest way to sew and it’s a trick I’ve relied on for years! You can sometimes find entire bolts of fabric (look to the right of the rug shelves up above!), but even if you only repurpose pillow cases or bed sheets that you thrift, you’ll have plenty of yardage to work with. This time, I went with a pretty peachy pink to make my new pillow cover.

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Envelope pillow covers (sometimes called pocket pillow covers) are so easy to make with basic sewing skills. You use one piece of fabric for the front of the pillow, and two pieces for the back that are both wider than the width of the pillow so they overlap. Stitch all around the outside, slide the pillow insert within the center pocket, and you’re done! I added a quick Swiss cross (cut from scrap fabric) to the front of mine just for fun. It’s not perfect, but it was quick and easy! You could also use felt if you want a no-stress way to keep it from fraying over time.

 

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The last DIY that I did to refresh my space is a little yarn wall-hanging. The idea popped into my mind when I was poking through Goodwill and saw the wooden bar the yarn is hanging from. I still have no idea what this actually is (there were a bunch of them!), but I had to grab two because I knew I could do something neat with them. They match my headboard and floors well and I needed new decor on my walls. This was perfect. Here’s how you can make one, too:

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Wrap yarn around a book the same number of times for each bundle to ensure consistency in length and thickness. Always start and end your yarn at the bottom of the book, then cut the entire bundle there when you’re done. Pinch the top of the bundle—this will be the exact middle—then tie it onto whatever you’d like as demonstrated above. I used a skewer so I could hang it below the wooden bar, but you could put it on almost anything. I also added a ribbon to two bunches then braided it all together for a little extra texture. Trim the bottoms as you see fit and hang! I can’t wait to try this technique out on an embroidery hoop instead of a straight stick. There are so many possibilities!

Don’t forget that one little room refresh like this makes a huge impact outside your four walls. How? Goodwill® organizations collect clothes, electronics and household goods (in the form of your donations!) and then use the revenues from the sales to create employment placement and job training programs. These help many people in local communities with skill building and job search services such as computer classes, job transportation, mock interviews, dress etiquette, and résumé writing. So while it seems like a thrifty room redo is just a fresh start for one room in your home, it’s also a fresh start for someone in your community.

Decluttering the Goodwill way

With the recent wave of interest about decluttering and purging going on across America, and like many of you, I am SO HERE for it. 

While decluttering our home is so satisfying in so many ways, I feel like we’re in a unique cultural moment where donating and shopping are intersecting in so many positive ways with people.

Yes, you can declutter and donate your stuff. AWESOME!

Yes, you can make your life better, and in the process, help Goodwill improve the lives of others in your community at the same time. AMAZING!

But what I think is often overlooked that now is also PRIME time to not just drop-off all your items at Goodwill, but POP-IN to the Goodwill near you to see how you can make all that decluttering work you’ve done really take hold and last.

I’ve been making weekly donation trips in the last few months and it feels SO good, but this week all that decluttering karma came back to me ten-fold.

Like a lot of parents, my kid’s rooms are often a vortex of clutter that seems impossible to keep in check. The shelf currently in use in their room had also been a Goodwill find years ago, but it was bringing me happiness long before I had kids and a house full of tiny bedrooms. So after culling some clothing, books, and toys from their room and donating them at my local Goodwill this week, I drove around front and popped in to see if anything got me excited.

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When I spotted two tall red bookshelves being set out on the sales floor, my heart went ZING! This was the PERFECT piece to replace the ill-fitting shelving unit in their space, it matched the room’s decor, and would allow them to see their books much easier when picking our bedtime stories each night. I had made do with our old shelf for years until I found the perfect solution, and today was the day it appeared before me.

Just $8 each!

I couldn’t grab them fast enough. With one hand I carried them to the front, hardly believing my luck. Between the back of the store and checkout, at least two other shoppers congratulated me on my find. It felt like walking forward on stage after winning a beauty pageant.

marie-kondo-2Now came the tricky part. Pushing them into my car proved much more challenging than I hoped. Luckily after years of having a small car with two large car seats, I’m used to getting creative.
One of the reasons I love thrift stores so much is the sense of camaraderie among shoppers– something you just don’t get anywhere else. So in true thrift form, another shopper came out and seeing my conundrum, offered some advice on creative angles to try and squish it in. When it proved ineffective, she quickly went to her car and dug up a bungee cord to give me. It wasn’t the perfect solution, but it got me and my shelves home.
Success!marie-kondo-3Here is the result of my  Goodwill find, complete with de-cluttered space. SO MUCH ZING!marie-kondo-4So when your friend mention they’re decluttering their homes, don’t forget to remind them that donating does so much more than get their unwanted items new homes, it also gives people in our communities a hand up, and perhaps something they donate will end up in YOUR cart the next time you go in.

Salem-Inspired Spooky Tablescape

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Every fall, like many New Englanders, my family and I make a day trip to Salem, Massachusetts. With its haunting history and one-of-a-kind characters roaming the streets (hey, Laurie Cabot!), Salem is a place like no other. So when it came time for me to plan a bewitching tablescape for an upcoming Halloween party, I thought about those cobbled streets and crumbling tombstones and channeled that mood into a dining table display.

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My first thoughts were that I wanted something just a little bit grim, but also very natural. As we all know, squash and pumpkins are obvious decor for the Halloween season so I was keen to find a faux pumpkin I could fix up to fit my somber setting. This cute little ceramic pumpkin perfectly fit the bill. There were actually several options at Goodwill that day that would have worked, but I went with this one because I liked its shape the best. Plus, the little lid lifts off so you can stash candy inside!

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The other thing I knew I wanted was a moon phase table runner. Maybe more than anything else, this really highlights the witchy vibe I get when visiting Salem. So the next stop on my Goodwill trip was, of course, the fabric section. The muslin fabric I found was only $2 for several yards! The simplicity of the cloth seemed ideal for the look I wanted and I couldn’t be happier with the way it took the fabric paint. Both of these projects are some of the easiest I’ve ever done, but they still make quite a statement! Here’s how you can make your own:

– TO MAKE THE PUMPKIN –

Materials:

  • Thrifted faux pumpkin
  • Spray paint in your color of choice
  • Adhesive letters
  • Washi tape
  • Drop cloth or similar
  • Soft tape measure (used for sewing)
  • Paint pen (optional)

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Step 1: Clean. Paint won’t stick well to a dirty surface, so wash your pumpkin with the correct method for the material it is made of. Mine was marked “dishwasher safe” on the bottom so I got to take the easy way out. For plastic pumpkins or something more delicate, you may need to wash it by hand or even just wipe it clean with alcohol wipes.

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Step 2: Paint! Take your pumpkin outside or to a well-ventilated area. With a drop cloth or newspaper beneath it to protect the surrounding space, paint the pumpkin according to the instructions on your paint. Lids can be a little difficult since you’ll probably want to paint the bottom edge if it’s still visible when the lid is on. I found that this trick with the empty water bottle (I cut off the top) worked really well. You could also paint the lid then flip it over and paint underneath. Just keep in mind that you don’t want to eat treats that have touched spray paint, so if you do paint any part of the inside you’ll probably want to use the jar only for wrapped candy.

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Step 3: Add text. After the paint has fully dried, choose your phrase and find the right layout. Use washi tape and your soft tape measure to plan where each letter will go. I cut my washi tape to the width of the text lines so I could justify the lettering then, starting at the top, pressed it lightly onto the pumpkin in a straight line to make sure my words didn’t get stuck on unevenly. Once the first line of text was in place, I peeled up the tape and moved it down for the next line. Since there’s no punctuation in the sticker pack I got, I used a paint pen to add the period.

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And that’s it for the pumpkin! Now, let’s figure out this table runner, shall we?

 

– TO MAKE THE RUNNER –

Materials

– Thrifted fabric

– Fabric paint

– Poster board, cardstock, or contact paper

– Yard stick or tape measure

– Marking tool

– Exacto knife

– Coarse paintbrush

– Scissors

– Painter’s tape (if using poster board or card stock)

– Something round to trace like a plate or lid

– Scrap cardboard

 

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Step 1: Wash your fabric. If it’s safe for the dryer, you’ll want to do that first, too, to get any shrinking out of the way.

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Step 2: Measure, mark, and cut the fabric. Lay it flat and choose the size and shape you want for your runner. Before you do this, decide whether you’d like to add any seam allowance. I left my edges raw because I wanted an aged and almost primitive look to my design. But, to make it last longer and look more crisp, you might choose to finish the edges.

 

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Step 3: Cut the fabric. I cut out notches on each end of the runner just for fun. To do this, I measured up a few inches from the end and found the center of the runner at that point. I made a little mark then used my straight edge to draw a line connecting each corner to that center mark, thus creating a triangle. Snip away the triangle from there and you’re good!

 

Step 4: Finish the edges (optional). If you’re planning to sew your edges, now’s the time. You could also finish them with Fray Check if you want to prevent fraying and still skip the sewing.

 

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Step 5: Create your stencils. If you’re using cardstock, plan for one moon on each page. If you’re using poster board or contact paper, you might want to create a little grid with evenly-spaced moons so you can move the phases around to play with the spacing between each once it’s laid out on the runner.

 

Step 6: Trace the full moon and two other phases onto the paper. The full moon is obviously just tracing once all the way around your circle. For the other two, trace most of the way around the moon then slide the plate/lid over slightly to one side and trace again on the same edge of the lid to connect the moon’s two points.

 

Step 7: Cut out the first three phases. With cardboard behind each phase, use the exacto knife to cut and extract the centers of each stencil.

 

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Step 8: Flip the two crescent phases and trace them on paper to create the last two stencil pieces. Cut these out.

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Step 9: Find the right placement of each phase on your runner and tape or pin them down. Place scrap cardboard behind each phase so the paint doesn’t bleed through to the work surface below.

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Step 10: Paint each phase! Use your paintbrush to dab paint onto the runner within each phase’s stencil. Make sure you’re dabbing straight down not brushing the paint on so it doesn’t leak under the paper. After you’re done, carefully remove the stencils and wait the appropriate dry time before using.

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Now your crafting is complete! If you shopped for Halloween supplies in our stores, then you have already joined Goodwill in giving back to your community. Of all the things on this table (besides the food, napkins, and paper plates), there are only three items on that aren’t thrifted. The silver serving tray was purchased during my most recent trip, specifically for this tablescape, alongside the fabric and pumpkin. The rest of the items have been collected in my visits over the last decade. That’s a whole lot of assistance I’ve contributed to my local community!

 

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While you’re out thrifting don’t forget candles! I always grab candles when I see them at Goodwill. They’re smart to have on hand for power outages plus they make the spookiest lighting you can imagine for a Halloween party. Oh, and they’re lovely during the holiday season as well. Am I getting a little ahead of myself? Sorry! I can’t help it. After all, you know what comes after Halloween… Until then, happy crafting, my thrifty friends!

DIY Projects for the Perfect Summer Party

By Julia Marchand

It’s July, which means that it’s prime time for backyard parties. With longer hours of sunshine and soft breezes to offer relief from the heat (and from the bugs!), I find myself looking for an excuse to stay outside as long as possible. I’ve also recently found a few super fun DIY party projects that I am eager to try out. Who’s got a birthday coming up? I may need to throw you the perfect backyard summer fiesta.

Image via DesignImprovised.com

Before the big event, a little party prep is required. The menu will be set and the décor planned, but it’s the little extra touches – like presentation – that really set the tone. That’s why I love these embellished serving trays decorated by Haeley of Design Improvised (one of Goodwill Industries of San Antonio’s official bloggers!). With just a little paint, thrifted trays go from blah to BAM! and they don’t break the bank either.

Image via Blog.GoodwillSC.org

For a little celebration style, these easy party hats are a must. The template is available via Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina, and, of course, the faux flowers can be found in Goodwill stores! Even if your friends are just popping by after work, topping them with a cap like this will instantly transform them into party mode. You could even have guests make their own as an activity to keep hands busy while the conversation flows.

Image via StyleMePretty.com

What’s a party without gifts? You know how it works for a birthday or shower, but even a just-for-fun party can be amped up with favors. I am constantly seeing embroidery hoops at my local Goodwill stores, so when I spotted these DIY tambourines made from the hoops on Style Me Pretty I just loved the idea of trying it out for myself. I actually already have a whole bunch of lace that I found once while thrifting so it would be almost effortless for me to whip up some of these cuties to hand out to guests.

If all of this sounds great, but you’re looking for a reason to celebrate, how about this: Every 27 seconds of every business day, a person served by Goodwill earns a good job. Every 3 seconds, another person accesses Goodwill opportunities to build careers and strong families. So many people around the world are struggling to support their families so Goodwill’s successes are truly something to applaud. And you’re helping, too, just by shopping at their retail stores. Keep up the great work and make sure you enjoy the summer before it’s over!

 

What’s your sweetest Goodwill find?

by Rachael Kaminski, Internet Marketing and Events Coordinator

With today being Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share a little love for Goodwill. I’ve been a Goodwill shopper for quite some time now. My mom would take me shopping at the Grand Haven Goodwill store to pick out formal dresses for all my high school dances. She would spend months hand sewing thousands of beads onto the dress to make it one of a kind, unique, and absolutely perfect. My mother was quite the seamstress. She would take a bland dress and make it into work of art. I loved knowing that no one would have “my dress.” I never had to worry about having a fashion faux pas of who wore it best.

My most recent “sweetest” Goodwill find would be a mirror that I have above my mantle. I hate to pay full price for anything and with my love for crafting this was the perfect DIY project … and yes, it was project I did 100% by myself. I had to include that because DIY projects to many men means your wife coming home and saying “I saw this great idea on Pinterest,” ripping apart the house or pulling out every crafting supply and after a few hours of unsuccessfully “DIYing” calling out for help because your great idea turned into a “Pinterest fail.”

When I found this mirror, I knew it was a solid quality piece. The mirror was heavy, but the frame needed a little TLC. It looked like it had been a part of a vanity. There were four holes I filled with wall putty or spackle. Once it dried I sanded the frame down and used a chisel to chip away some of the wood to give the distressed appearance. I then painted the frame turquoise and further distressed it after it was painted. I think it turned out great!

The sweetest Goodwill find I have ever heard about was what Joyce Kinstner found 15 years ago at the Whitehall Goodwill store. She met her husband! I don’t know if there is a sweeter Goodwill find story. It just goes to show that you never know what you may find at Goodwill!

Do you have a sweetest Goodwill find you would like to share? Please post a photo of your treasure on our Facebook timeline and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a $35 Goodwill gift card! Share the love, but don’t hesitate! Today is the last day to participate in our contest. Happy Valentine’s Day!

DIY Hanging Planters

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I love making one-of-a-kind gifts for my friends and family every holiday season, but if you’re like me, it’s hard to find the time to craft something completely from scratch. That’s why I love being able to repurpose thrifted goods into something that is useful and beautiful without it taking weeks to make. The hanging planters we’ll be putting together today, for example, take only a couple of hours to complete! At this rate, you’ll have everyone crossed off of your to-gift list before the first candle of Hanukkah is lit!

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Here’s what you’ll need to craft your own hanging planters:

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Supplies

  • Thrifted ceramic jars (or adjust the project for tins or glassware)
  • Thrifted belt
  • Drill
  • Ceramic tile drill bit
  • Painter’s tape
  • 4 screws that fit properly into the drilled hole
  • 4 coordinating washers
  • 4 coordinating nuts
  • 1 nail
  • Small hammer
  • Scissors
  • Pen or pencil
  • Measuring tool (a sewing tape measure works perfectly)
  • 2 plants
  • Hooks/hardware to hang the planters (if the planters won’t be hung in a stud, make sure you include wall anchors)
  • Safety mask
  • Safety goggles
  • Small piece of scrap wood

 

Step 1: After washing your thrifted ceramics, plan the placement of the holes. You’ll need two on each planter. Put a bit of painter’s tape over those areas and mark where you want the holes to be. The tape keeps the drill bit from skidding across the glaze as well as protecting the surface from small cracks the drilling could cause.

Step 2: Gently set a nail on each mark and tap it a tiny bit (so carefully) just to dent the glaze. This creates a starting point for the drill bit to bite into.

Step 3: You may want to take this one outside as there will be some dust. With your safety equipment on, carefully drill all four of your holes. If the dust is clogging up the hole, try sucking it out with a vacuum or wiping it with a damp cloth or Q-tip.

Step 4: Remove the tape and wipe the planters down. You may even want to rinse and dry them if there’s a lot of dust inside.

Step 5: Measure and cut the length you’ll need for your belt straps. Mine are each 13” long. After cutting them to size, I rounded all four ends of the straps.

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Step 6: Decide where the holes in your straps should be then mark all four of those. Place the straps, one end at a time, on the scrap wood and hammer the nail through to punch a hole. You may need to wiggle this around quite a bit to stretch it so the screw will fit through.

Step 7: Thread the screws through the straps and planters one at a time, securing them from the inside with the washer then nut. Tighten as best you can then all you need to do is add greenery!

Dangling plants like burro’s tail or ivy would look amazing in here, but to keep things festive I decided to start with clippings from my Christmas tree. This way plants can be swapped out seasonally, by style preference, or to best suit the light wherever my pal decides to install her planters. You may want to include hanging hardware with your gift to make it even easier to put up.

Photo12.jpgIf you wanted to, you could also include a note which shares the source of your supplies along with Goodwill’s mission: to generate opportunities for people to build brighter futures for themselves and their families. This way, the person who receives your gift knows that these are so much more than just planters. When you holiday shop at Goodwill stores, your gifts just keep on giving, and I can’t think of anything merrier than that.

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