Friday, December 01, 2006

Helping Kids Make Their Own Craft Sale: It's Easy

When I was younger, I was always hoping to make an extra dollar here and there, so I got resourceful. I made simple crafts like bookmarks and other small items, and set up sheets and an old table in my parents' living room, hoping to create a craft fair atmosphere. I could always count on Mom or Dad exclaiming over my efforts and coughing up some cash to buy homemade creations.

This is a great idea for kids, but on a larger scale; if your children like to make crafts and are fairly adept at it, consider having a public craft sale. It doesn't have to be anything fancy; it can be in your garage or out on your sidewalk. Make sure it's legal to set up your table at the spot of your choosing, and go for it.

Say you are considering bookmarks; for a truly great bookmark, you'll need more than just construction paper and markers. Buy glitter, different kinds of glue (see if you can find glitter glue for a fun compromise), markers, pens, rivets, and all kinds of things. Cut out different sizes of bookmarks; some people will prefer big ones, others will choose little ones. At the library I used to visit as a child, they made bookmarks with cut-out pictures pasted on the top. You can cut generic scenes like trees, mountains, and lakes from magazines and old books to use for your own bookmarks.

One of my favorite craft items to make were Chinese lanterns; you simple fold a regular piece of paper in half and cut slits along the folded end (make sure you don't cut them so wide or close together that it slices the two halves apart). When you unfold the paper again, you will have a nice symmetrical design. Tape the edges of the papers together at the bottom and top and you should get a creation that actually resembles an Asian lantern. I used to enjoy decorating mine with glitter and colored markers; using construction paper in bright colors is always a good idea, and there is even marbled construction paper available now.

The difficulty of the crafts you choose to make should depend on the ages and abilities of your children and any other kids they may happen to be working with. You may want to have two different tables; one for children ages five to eleven, and one for children from the age of twelve to whatever age you want the cut-off point to be.

Younger children will probably like working with glue and paper more, whereas older kids might be able to create woodworking items or other more difficult crafts. Each separate table gets to keep the proceeds. Another option is to give the proceeds to a local charity you would like to patronize, such as the Salvation Army or Red Cross, etc. I know that, as a child, I was always very glad to be able to give even a small amount to my favorite charities.

Before actually beginning the craft show, you can have a contest to see which items will be making it to the tables. Award winners with an extra cash prize or something equally exciting like a self-created coupon to their favorite fast-food restaurant. The winners' crafts will get special precedence in the sale and perhaps their artwork can even be framed. Make sure that even those whose crafts didn't win will go away with something. This is a fun venture and there should be no pressure. If you think your children would only rebel against this form of picking and choosing, it's probably not the best choice for your family.

You will have to decide what kind of stand you want to have. Old cardboard boxes are cheap and easy to find, but they make not be the kind of look you're going for. See if you can find wooden boxes that can be painted and "dolled up" with homemade signs or banners. Folding tables would also do nicely, like card tables or anything else you may happen to have around the house. If you don't have any tables like this, ask neighbors if they can lend you one.

Table legs can be draped with streamers, and banners can be taped onto table rims. Decorate in any way you see fit, and let kids go wild with the decor; within reason, of course. Make sure you can clean up quickly if there's a mess - I'm envisioning a box full of something like pieces of confetti scattering all over the lawn. Remember to take lots of pictures; these will be some great moments to cherish in the future.

By Lacie R. Schaeffer