Kid Friendly Upcycled Paper Bag Easter Basket Craft

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

When the stores fill with plastic eggs, chocolate bunnies and overpriced baskets emblazoned with the latest Disney characters, I cringe and imagine what a pastel nightmare next month's landfill layer is going to look like. I just can't bring myself to buy single use items like that.

I'm always looking for hands-on crafty stuff to do with the kids, and I compulsively hoard sturdy paper shopping bags with handles. It occurred to me therein lies the two birds / one stone solution to the Easter basket problem. I'm sharing it with y'all, because I can't be the only one who would happily slip a forgotten Easter basket into the recycling bin after hiding in the garage to eat the last of the Jelly Bellies.

Kid Friendly Upcycled Paper Bag Easter Basket Craft

1) Rummage around in the back of your pantry for some paper bags. Hopefully ones that don't smell like old Chinese takeout.

2) Prep the kids to paint. Take autism break to allow plenty of time for crucial paint bottle arranging.

3) Have the kids cut top of the bags off at the crease. Save upper sections for the handle step.

4) Nope, still not quite right...

5) Distract boychild from lack of access to paint with a cookie while explaining that his brother is autistic just like he is, and we will wait for little brother to arrange the paint bottles because it makes him happy, just like we wait for big brother arrange the kitchen stools because it makes him happy.

6) Finally start painting... *sigh* That's ok little Dude, the Easter Bunny doesn't really care if your basket is painted. You do you.

7) Try not to cry as you think about how far your sweet little guy has come and how much hard work and occupational therapy and social coaching it took for him to get to a point where he spontaneously painted a picture of his family next to a house.

8) Let the painted bags dry, preferable overnight. Try not to forget that you sat them on top of the fridge and drop another pile of stuff you needed out of the way on the wet paint.

9) Cut the handle sections so the width is just slightly smaller than the interior width of the painted bag.

10) Cut the height of the handle section so it's just shorter than the depth of the painted bag.

11) Glue time! AKA stealth squeezy sensory break time!

12) Glue the crap out of 'em so they'll hopefully hold the weight of the Easter stuff. I set the glue covered pieces in place for the kids because I'd rather not be scraping dried glue off my counter through Memorial Day. Then I have them press it all over to get good contact. I recommend letting it dry on its side overnight so they don't slide around.

13) Voila! Adorable, guilt free, customized Easter baskets! If you're feeling ambitious and looking for another sensory activity, instead of buying Easter grass you can have the kids make their own.  I always have scraps of construction paper in the craft bin and the little one loves to play with scissors. (Fine motor skills!)  You could also have them crumple or tear up tissue paper.

Any Size
The great thing is that this craft can be done with any size paper bag that suits your family's Easter traditions. A standard brown paper lunch bag is the perfect size for a reasonable amount of candy. For bags without built in handles, simply hole punch and use ribbon or yarn to create the handle. They'll still achieve a basket look, though probably won't be sturdy enough to carry it once filled.

I use fairly big bags because our Easter bunny doesn't bring much candy. He doesn't need to - we've still got at least a bag or two still left over from Halloween. What he does bring is a moderate size toy, maybe a DVD, with some token "bunny beans" (adorably dubbed so by Dude last Easter, and not an error we're keen to correct) and a Reese's egg (because I'm only human).

The things is, spring is when work starts going nuts for me after the typically quiet winter. So I go from a near total focus on the kids to spending tons of time in the office. Easter has become an opportunity to assuage some of the Working Mommy Guilt associated with my seasonal disappearance, so until I'm able to level up in my career I'll probably continue using the big bags.

I wasn't kidding about the Working Mommy guilt. Wonderful Husband has requested that I ask the Easter Bunny to take his enthusiasm down a notch next year...

This paper bag Easter Basket craft is pinned to my crafting board.

Halloween Pumpking Carving - Crack in the Universe

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Every night I watch the stars, because I just know the raggedy man in the blue box will come back some day.

I hope he comes soon, I keep seeing this crack everywhere I go and it's starting to freak me out...

This Doctor Who crack in the universe craft pumpkin is pinned to my Halloween Pumpkin Carving board.

Halloween Burlap Wreath

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I have a minor wreath obsession. I finally decided I need to do more than just collect pictures of them and indulged in making one myself. 

This isn't a tutorial. There are lots of those. This is more of a Hey, lookie what I did! And I only had to buy totally different sets of supplies twice and change my plans for it three four five a dozen times and tear it apart to start over once! Wheeeee!

And yes, I totally pinned it to my Halloween Wreath board!

Peanuts Halloween Display

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I try to do something different on my front porch every year, so I'm always looking for inspiration. This idea came to me during last year's 4,782nd ritual rewatching of It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with my Bear.

In spite of my careful attention to detail - Pig Pen's sheet is dirty, and Charlie Brown is carrying a bag of rocks...

... reactions from other folks have been pretty "meh."

But I've decided I don't care. Because for whatever reason, it makes me deliriously happy.

And this thing with Linus right here? Is currently at the top of my all time favorite Halloween displays I've built.

Look for me on Halloween night, waiting in the most sincere pumpkin patch.

I pinned Linus and the gang to my Halloween Displays board.

Halloween Theme Chocolate Frosted Layer Cake

Monday, October 6, 2014

This cake was the final project for my first cake decorating class. The fall session ended in October and she told us we could do whatever we wanted as long as we incorporated the techniques we'd learned in class, and I'm me, so... there ya go.

I used a tombstone and ghost cookie cutters to get a clean outline on those shapes because I'm not skilled enough to freehand images.  That was when the light bulb went on that I could fudge character shapes in general, and is what led me to being able to make cooler cakes for my kids by printing an image onto card stock and tracing it with a toothpick. (see Blues Clues birthday cake and Pirate party birthday cake for further examples of my ability to cheat at this)

This 9" round yellow layer cake with chocolate buttercream frosting is a classic crowd pleaser that would be the perfect addition to your next Halloween party menu!


I pinned this post to my Cake Decorating board.

Crock Pot Honey Apple Butter

Monday, September 29, 2014

My BFF was part of the original apple butter extravaganza, and when she asked me for a copy of the recipe we developed that summer I pointed her at the blog posts I wrote about it.

The Great Apple Butter Experiment, Part 1: Ingredients and Preparation
The Great Apple Butter Experiment, Part 2: Making and Storing
The Great Apple Butter Sensory Experiment: Hand Pies

She read them and very helpfully pointed out that I'm a moron for neglecting to include a concise, printable version.

This is me, fixing that.

Printable Recipe PDF
Crock Pot Honey Apple Butter

Crock Pot Honey Apple Butter
10 lbs apples, mixed varieties
3 cups apple cider
1 1/4 cup honey
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
 pinch of kosher salt

1) Peel, core and slice the apples. Place them in the crock pot with the rest of the ingredients.
2) Turn crock pot on high and keep an eye on it until you achieve bubbling around the edges. Then turn to low and let it go 8-16 hours (overnight is ideal). Crack lid on crock pot after it’s had time to start breaking down.
3) If smoother consistency is desired, approximately ½ to ¾ of the way through cooking time use a stick blender (for baby food smooth) or potato masher (for applesauce consistency). If rustic chunks are desired, skip this step.
4) Once it has reached the desired consistency, turn off the crock pot and proceed to your preferred storage method.


I pinned this post to my Canning, Crock Pot & Freezer food board.

Blues Clues Birthday Party

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Shortly before he turned 2, Dude went through a phase where he threw himself at the TV while shrieking "Waaaaaaaannnntt Bwwwuuuuuueee!!!" And slapping his hand on the wall a lot and shouting "Cwue!"

So I had a pretty good idea what to do for his 2nd birthday party.

To tint the frosting, I sat one of the clue stickers in front of me and kept fiddling with my Wilton gel colors until it was close enough.

For Blue's face, I used Photoshop to scale down the the template I found here - I traced around it with a toothpick. It's worth noting that I should have actually looked at a picture of Blue before I frosted, because in the show her nose is dark blue, not black.  If I'd noticed that I'd also have done the outline to match the nose.

I chose a font I liked for the number 2, blew it up in Word and printed it on card stock. Then it was easy to cut out and trace around in fondant with an Exacto knife.  I didn't even have to print two sizes, I just eyeballed one of them bigger.

The name banner represents the flag that Blue holds at the beginning of every show with the episode name on it. That shape was easy to freehand, though it would be easy enough to make a card stock template to trace in Word.

I also put 3 paw prints around the side of the cake - I just forgot to take a picture of them. Those I also traced with a toothpick around a card stock template I printed from a paw print image I found online.

Shovel and Pail
Dude talked a lot about Shovel and Pail, so I wanted them to make an appearance. Turns out? It's hard to find sand toys in late fall. Thank goodness for a kind eBay seller who deals in bulk 'assorted colors' plastic sand buckets. I emailed the seller to explain I needed the specific color combination for a Blues Clues birthday, and not only did they enthusiastically agree to help, they also tucked a few little Blues Clues freebies into the package (you can see the stickers poking out of the pail, that was one of them).

For Shovel's face, I stared at a lot of pictures of him. Then I broke out the Sharpies and crossed my fingers.

For Pail's face, I cut the shapes out of felt from the craft bin and glued them on. This was a nice approach because if I messed one up I just remade it, no worries about a permanent mistake. (The challenge is finding glue that will stick - they only stayed on a few weeks with Elmer's.)

Handy Dandy Notebook
For the Handy Dandy Notebook - known lovingly over here at Chez Geek as the "danny guk guk" - I was delighted to find endless options on eBay.  We opted for the one that has several dry erase pages in addition to the paper ones. It also came with the iconic green striped crayons and a pack of extra pages, as well as the "clue" post its I used to help me tint the frosting. This site is listed on the back of it:

Finding Blue herself was a bit of a challenge, seeing as how the show has been off the air nearly a decade.  But as luck would have it, thanks to global intellectual property theft our international partners in capitalism, you can readily obtain a shiny new Blue on eBay for a surprisingly reasonable price.  Just plan ahead - shipping takes a few weeks.

Dude was so very happy, and promptly ran off clutching his new best friend.


Update: nearly a year later, after much of love and roughhousing, she's still holding up very well considering her questionable origins. So if you child can't live without their very own Blue, it's worth the 15 bucks to eBay her from China.


I pinned this post to my Blues Clues Birthday Party board and my cake decorating board.