Frugal Family Footnotes
Fun ways to display art 'masterpieces'
September 26, 2011
by Kristi Hiivala

School has been in session for a few weeks now. I am still waiting for the routine to kick in.

It is a different kind of chaos around here, where the race to the beach is now replaced with a race to get supper done and homework completed before bedtime. Getting all the little things taken care of can be the difference between a successful day and a tiring day.

The artwork from school has already started to overwhelm my counter tops. There is only so much space to hang the masterpieces on the refrigerator. Besides, a few times rushing to the fridge and back leads to torn pages and pieces of paper floating to the floor (back me up on this parents – we have all guiltily looked around to see if anyone is looking before deciding the fate of that annoying paper is the trash can, with the appropriate amount of trash conveniently covering it up).

Some cheap and easy solutions I’ve found to use these artful masterpieces: Trim the artwork to match the size of an old magnet on the fridge (the ones you get at parades or in the mail). Tape the artwork to the magnet and you have a little gift to give to grandparents or special aunts and uncles, or babysitters . . . or yourself!

Purchase a few pieces of corkboard (among other places, you can get this at our local Dollar General store) and hang it in your child’s room. With some oversized tacks (easier to grip for children and less likely to be lost on the floor) they can hang up their creations for viewing. Make a rule that one item must be recycled for every new one that goes up to avoid too many pictures crowding the corkboards.

A favorite at my house – using a masterpiece as a placemat at the dinner table. There are several ways you can go at this one. You can buy some cheap laminate sheets and laminate some favorite artwork to make it last longer. Or, if there is an abundance of artwork to choose from, just use them as is and replace the placements as necessary (which is typically every few meals).

Finally, another solution to the artwork clutter is cutting the pieces down to the size of a greeting card and using them for birthday or holiday greetings. At $4 a greeting card purchased at the store, you could really save some money by trying this. And if you collect throughout the fall, you can build up a stack large enough to use as Christmas card greetings, or name tags for gifts. So much more fun, and personal, and cheap!

There are also a few traditions that I enjoy that save me some time and money (the best kind of traditions to have, if you ask me). One of them is putting together a monthly supper menu. It sounds more intimidating than it really is.

If you can think of 10-14 different meals your family enjoys, you can easily rotate them and mark them down on a calendar. A quick glance on the weekend gives you an idea of what food items you need to stock up on for the week ahead. I know, personally, that if I make a grocery list, match some coupons for the items I need, and take them to the store, I am much less likely to make impulse purchases.

I also really enjoy digging out the totes full of fall decorations. I like to cruise through the clearance aisles after a holiday and pick up a few discounted items for next year. Once I am home, I toss the frugal finds into the tote and it makes for some fun surprises when I set out to decorate the following year.

This year’s surprise for me was a cute block set that spells out ‘Happy Harvest.’ I didn’t even remember that I had purchased it, and it made me smile when I saw the clearance sticker attached and the great price I paid.

It’s the little things that add up to big savings!

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