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May 23, 2016

DIY Magic Wands (for next to nothing!)

Want to know the best part about DIY-ing your own things for birthday parties??
Coming up with some awesome party favors that cost next to nothing!!!
Seriously, these were the easiest things I've ever put together.
They also turned out the coolest.

If you haven't been following & have no idea what I'm rambling on about, 
head over here to check out our most recent DIY birthday party that was all things Harry Potter. 
It was magical :) 

One of things that you just can't go without are magic wands. 
When thinking up different ideas for party favors, I was trying to steer away from edibles.
Mainly because we were having candy already mixed in with the party food & I didn't want to add to the dentist bills.
And with several big projects taking up our budget, I needed something that would be budget-friendly.

Cue the easiest magic wands ever. 
Oh, and the coolest. 


Now, I guess I should say that these SHOULD be made for next to nothing.
But, honestly, I guess it depends on what types of shrubbery you live near or have access too...

When searching for the easiest way to make a whole slew of wands, 
I stumbled upon all kinds of tutorials that were making them from anything from dowel rods to chopsticks to pencils. 

I didn't mind those, most of them turned out amazing!
But I was still kinda stuck on the fact that they all looked too....perfect?
I don't know. I wanted that more natural, bendy look that I imagine they would have.
You know, because I imagine what magic wands look like a whole lot. 

But being an avid book lover, I think those images you have in your head are a huge factor in how you expect things to appear.
Anywho. 

Basically, I wanted them to look like magic, natural sticks. 
Ha. 
So...um, why not use STICKS? 


And so I did.
We have a pretty little Crete Myrtle tree in our front yard that was not blooming during the time leading up to the party.
And, ahem, we may or may not have NOT trimmed it back like it should have been. 
Sorry, tree. 
So it had all sorts of bare stick-like branches reaching out, begging to be made into wands. 
For real, they were begging. 

So once I came up with the brilliant idea of using the sticks, I cut a whole bunch of them.
I wanted them to be all different (which really couldn't be helped anyways. Hello. They are sticks). 
So I cut skinny ones, fat one, curvy ones, flat ones.
(now I'm just getting crazy) 

Want to make your own magic wands out of sticks??
Go find the perfect branches (get permission if it's someone else's yard...we don't need trespassing charges here, guys). 
And let's get to work.

Supply List: 
Sticks (in case you hadn't gathered that)
Hot Glue Gun & lots of sticks of glue
A jar or styrofoam to hold them while they dry
Spraypaint- I used copper, black and oil-rubbed bronze. 
Rub-n-buff in antique gold (found at Hobby Lobby)
A small paintbrush


At this point, I'm assuming you've found the perfect sticks by now. 

So take your whole pile of sticks and start creating the wand 'base'. 
I started about 3/4 up on the wand and just started drawing dots, lines or circling the entire wand several times. Get creative with it. 
After a while, you're over being creative and you just start dripping glue all over it. 
Whatever gets the job done. 

Some of them, I piled the glue on thicker at the bottom to make it look chunky.
Basically you just want them to have some type of design and a lifted look around the bottom quarter of it. 

As I glued them up, I stuck them in a jar to dry (ends up).
They dry fast so you should be able to do a whole bunch without worrying about them touching and messing up. 
Here's a group of mine after they were hot glued up: 



After you've created a design on them, the next step is to add paint. 
I sprayed all of mine in a dark copper first and then spritzed them randomly with bits of oil-rubbed bronze and some gold spraypaint. 
You don't want them to be perfect but you also don't want them to still look like sticks you found in your yard. 

The subtle sparkle of the metallic paint helps with that :) 


To add the gold effect that the ends of the wands have in the above picture, 
I used rub-n-buff. 
This stuff is amazing gold wax that is so easy to apply.
It takes a TINY amount to do so don't get crazy.

I used a very small paintbrush to dab into the wax and then brushed it all over the ends where I had made my raised designs. 
This gave it the perfect 'magical' effect I was going for. 



 For the party, I plopped all of our wands into a jar and created some wand labels that I printed on linen paper. 
I tied the labels randomly onto various wands with twine. 
If you'd like your own wand labels, I shared the super easy and FREE printable version of mine over on this post
Just print,cut & attach. 


Again, the book nerd in me came out full force.
And each of the wand labels are actual descriptions of wands from the Harry Potter series. 
Guys, there is a whole Wikipedia page on just what the wands were made of. 
I can't even. 

But I love how the labels added a worn, Ollivander-y feel to them. 
I created a whole little mini Ollivander set-up for the wands during the party: 


Each of the kids were encouraged to grab one at the beginning of the party- most of our party games utilized them. 

Then they were allowed to take them home as their party favor. 


Our little wizard LOVED them and he loved helping me create different designs for the wands. 
He had specific instructions for how to do his :) 

So, you can't get much easier and cost-efficient than wands made from sticks, right??

Spray-paint & hot glue are our real-life magical items, am I right? 

Hope you guys are having a fantastic Monday!!!

If you're dying to check out more Harry Potter goodness, check out these other fun party posts: 





 DIY Wizard Brooms






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May 20, 2016

DIY Wizard Brooms

This tutorial is one of the one's I'm most excited about!!
I was pretty darn proud of myself with how they turned out- and they were the project I was most intimidated about! 
So we're going to talk about creating your own Wizard brooms today and on the cheap too :) 



If you haven't visited in a while, 
a few weeks ago, I shared our epic DIY Harry Potter birthday party
If you haven't had a chance to check it out, I'd love for you to swing by here and see all the fun we had! 
There were so many DIY projects that went into the party- I knew that it would be pretty project heavy from the beginning, so I started creating things a couple months before. 

Another plus to all the fun DIY things was that we are in the midst of decorating Little Man's room, and a lot of the elements we used in the party were going to double as room decor after. 

Anywho.
One of the games we wanted to incorporate into the party was some form of Wizard Quidditch. 
If you've read the books or watched the movies, you've seen them play. 
It's basically three hoops on either end and the players have to try and hit the quaffle into the rings for points. 
Then the golden Snitch is the ever-elusive high point ball that can win the game in an instant. 
But the catch is...it's played in the air. 
So we had to create a muggle friendly version. 


For our rings, we mostly followed this awesome tutorial
They turned out perfectly and have held up wonderfully so far. 
Though we had some very curious neighbors as to why we were creating huge standing rings.
And it's even more awkward to explain when they've never read/watched Harry Potter. 

So, let's talk creating your own brooms. 
I love these guys for lots of reason!!!
1. They're cheap. 
2. They're cute & rustic-y looking, not like the plastic ones you can buy online as 'props'. So these will be awesome come fall-time for porch decor. 
3. They were super easy to put together once I finally came up with a plan. 


Supplies: 
*2 round dowel rods (found at Hobby Lobby, $1 each) 
*1 package of floral 'twigs' (catch them on 1/2 off)
*I package of floral "Prairie grass" (again, catch them on 1/2 off)
*2 rubber bands
*Duct tape
*A few pieces of burlap ribbon (I used the wide floral kind) 
*Hot Glue Gun
*Spraypaint- I used gold & matte Nutmeg
*Gold Broom Labels (cut with my Silhouette)

All in all, the supplies for both of these rang in under $15. 
Each broom (if you had some of the supplies on hand like I did) were only about $6 bucks a piece. Not bad at all. 

The hardest part (besides figuring out how to put it together well) was to figure out what material to make the bristles out of.
I wanted them to look somewhat old (because. Hogwarts.) and still have a realistic feel to them. 
After browsing Hobby Lobby for the millionth time, I saw this brown prairie grass that looked perfect!
It was somewhat sturdy, it came in a fairly large quantity & the kind I found even had an almost white-washed look to it which made me happy. 
I picked up a bag of the twig-gy looking things too and used them to intersperse throughout. 
I was afraid the prairie grass wouldn't look full enough, but it definitely did.
So you don't have to use the twigs- I liked the texture it gave though!

Here's a better picture of the grass and twigs I bought:


First things first, paint your dowel rods to your desired color. 
I used a mix of hammered copper (not shown), Nutmeg and a little bit of Brilliant Gold. 
I painted the whole thing in the nutmeg color and then just spritzed randomly over the rod with the gold & copper. 


I created broom labels with my Silhouette in gold vinyl. 
We had a 'Nimbus 2000' and a 'Firebolt'. 
I used the trace feature to trace the logos I found via Google. 

They turned out so fun and definitely were a hit at the party! 
After applying them to the ends of each dowel rod, I painted a light coat of Modge Podge over them to help seal it. 


After you've painted your dowel rods, you're ready to assemble the bristles. 
I did mine with several steps to make sure they held together after a bunch of little boys got a hold of them. 

1. Divide the prairie grass into two bundles- I made one slightly larger than the other for whatever reason. 

2. Arrange one of the bundles around the end of the dowel rod (not the end you applied your gold label!!) and make sure to cover the entire end by arranging the grass all around it. 
You can play with it to get it as full as you want. 

3. Once you have it arranged, take a cut rubber band and tie it tightly around the bundle (including the dowel rod- I tied my bundle several inches up the dowel rod to make sure it couldn't fall out easily). 
Tie several times. Don't worry about how pretty it looks- it'll get covered up. 


4. After tying it with the rubber band, take several strips of duct tape and wrap them tightly around the area that you tied with the rubber band.
So the rubber band will be completely covered by the duct tape. 
I left several inches of grass sticking out above the duct tape. 
I used several pieces just for good measure. 


5. After applying the duct tape, I decided to spray paint it gold. 
The burlap I was using had large holes and the duct tape was going to show through it enough. 
So I wanted it to show through gold so people didn't go 'oh nice, duct tape' and all. 

Here's a terrible picture of it painted gold: 


6. After spraying the duct tape, I then wrapped the burlap mesh around the whole thing. 
Hot glue in place, and add a piece of twine wrapped around several times if desired. 
I liked the finish touch it gave.

Below shows one broom with the duct tape showing, and the other with the finished burlap and twine:


All in all, the whole process takes less than 10 minutes!
And you have some super amazing wizard brooms to show from it!!
Little man was ecstatic when he saw them. 


 We propped them up next to the Quidditch rings until it was time to play.
I loved the whole display!!


And a better close-up of the name label: 


We added other fun elements with the two 'Quaffle' balls (the red playground ones) and our own handmade Snitch (below with the wings). 
I tucked them all in an old suitcase I had. 


The snitches were so easy!
I spraypainted a couple of foam balls that I found at Hobby Lobby (they had smiley faces on them), then used an exacto knife to poke a hole in each side. Hot glue those white feathers in and you're golden (haha!)

We also threw in a House Quidditch Cup for good measure...


I happened to have an old trophy that was collecting dust & peeling so I dressed it up with some gold vinyl and the kids thought it was the coolest! 

So there you have it,
the easiest and cheapest way that I could find to come up with some wizard brooms!!
I can't wait to pull them out in the fall for a fun pumpkin display. 

One of them got a lot of love during the party and several of the bristles have come loose but I think it'll be an easy fix. 

And if you're not needing them for any little wizards in your life, be sure to make a couple for a gorgeous fall display!!

Happy Friday friends- I'll be back with my last *tear* Harry Potter party tutorial this weekend so be on the lookout. It's definitely a key ingredient!




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May 19, 2016

DIY Harry Potter T-shirts (HTV tutorial)

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have noticed a recent obsession with creating things with heat transfer vinyl. 
That's because... well. I'm obsessed. 

I tried my hand at it several years ago with some off-brand vinyl and didn't really love the results. 
So I just kind of held off on playing with it anymore until recently. 

My Silhouette and I have an on/off relationship where we will sometimes take long breaks from each other. 
Sometimes it's just necessary :) 

But we've been teaming up a lot lately and heat transfer vinyl has been at the top of my list of projects for the past couple months. 

When we were planning for the epic Harry Potter Party, I wanted to come up with some easy shirts that wouldn't cost a pretty penny. 

Here's what I came up with & I was pretty psyched with how they turned out...


Didn't they turn out cute? 
My favorite one was the "Straight Outta Hogwarts" one and all of them only took minutes to make!!
I'll walk you through the process the best I can. 
Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) can be a little intimidating if you haven't worked with it before. 
But once you have it down, it's the easiest thing ever. 
I'd rather transfer it to fabric than mess with transferring vinyl to wood any day :) 

First things first, 
create your design in the Silhouette Studio software and make sure you've measured your shirt to make it as big as you want. 
Once you have your design down, BE SURE to 'mirror' the image.
You can do this easily by clicking on 'Object' at the top of the screen, then clicking 'mirror'. 
This will flip your image so it'll be cut out in reverse, making it not be backwards when you iron it onto your shirt. 

After you've mirrored your image, cut it out using the vinyl specifications your machine tells you. 
Make sure you're cutting on the matte side of your vinyl- the clear plastic piece should be face down...
It's hard to get a good picture of it, but the picture below shows the machine cutting on the matte side: 



Once cut out, you should be able to flip your vinyl over and see the outline of your design through the clear liner. 
This is how you know your design cut out deep enough. 
Sometimes it's a little bit more faded but usually you can always see part of an outline through the back. 
Here's what mine looked like after it was cut: 



After you have it cut out, carefully weed your design. 
This is where I've found that the different brands you use make a big difference!
I've used the Siser brand (that you find mostly online at cheaper prices) and was completely underwhelmed by it. 
I've become a big fan of the actual Silhouette and Cricut brand HTV. Although it is pricier- so look for sales & coupons for it. 
I know many people have had success with Siser brands and I plan on trying it again now that I've learned a few tricks but for now, I've been using just the Silhouette/Cricut brands. 

After weeding, you'll want to prepare your shirt for transferring your image.
Make sure you iron is set to it's hottest setting (mine doesn't have set temps so I set it to cotton). 
Once hot, run your iron over the shirt a few times to pre-heat the surface.
I've found that this really does make a big difference in how the vinyl adheres to it!!

Then carefully place your transfer onto your shirt. 
You can adjust it a couple times if you do so carefully!


Tricks I've learned about applying your transfer: 

1. Preheat your fabric item before pressing your transfer onto it. 
2. When applying your HTV, press your iron down firmly on one area and count slowly to 30. Then move onto the next area. I wiggle the iron a little just so it doesn't just sit in one spot. 
3. After pressing FIRMLY for 30 seconds on each area, I run the iron over the whole item quickly one more time. 
4. Let it sit for just a few seconds and then carefully peel the plastic liner off. 
5. Once cooled, flip your shirt inside out and press the design from the inside of the shirt. 

And that's it!!
 

Like I said, it goes SUPER quick once you've done a couple and aren't so nervous about it. 
Unless you're just not nervous about it at all :) 

I LOVE how easy it is to transform plain shirts into something cute with HTV. 
And it's SO much cheaper than buying graphic shirts. 
Especially if you're wanting them personalized. 

Here's my cutie sporting her Harry Potter t-shirt...


And Little Man LOVED his Hogwarts shirt...



As far as washing/drying goes, I turn my shirts inside out to wash on normal cycle with like colors. 
But I do NOT throw mine in the dryer. 
I know many people that do and have good results but I hang-dry all my HTV shirts just to make sure they last a bit longer.
I've had a couple times where the design has started peeling but they were easy fixes. 

But now that I've gotten the hang of it, I've had zero problems with peeling. 

So if you haven't tried HTV, go for it!!
You'll be so glad you did!

I share a lot of my monogramming & HTV designs that I've done on my Instagram feed, so if you're not following over there, be sure to check it out! 

---------------------------------------------

For more details about the Harry Potter bash we threw, check these projects out: 










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May 17, 2016

DIY "Wax-Sealed" Harry Potter Invitations

Friends. 
The struggle is so real right now. 
Less than 2 weeks until school is out. 

Which means less than 3 weeks until work is done for the summer. 
The kids can feel it.
I can definitely feel it. 


And the end of the year has just been kicking my butt. 
So I'm hanging in there. 
But just barely. Anyone else in the same boat? 

I've been wanting to sit down and just pump out these last few Harry Potter posts so I can share some different projects I've been working on...and I just haven't had the energy.

So here's to hoping that getting this post out will inspire some sort of energy surge!

And, on top of the crazy work days & lack of motivation, my computer is running as slow as Christmas. 
Anyone else get incredibly frustrated when their machines are running like molasses? 

I digress. 

Let's talk Harry Potter invites.
Because I love coming up with fun invitations to set the tone for the party.

And with Harry Potter, there are so many ways to go about making fun ones. 

We finally decided to keep the invite itself simple and add some fun details to it to make it unique. 


And the best part about these invites is that it was something me and Little Man could do together. He actually told me that this was the 'best day ever' as we were working on them. 
Double points for getting him to do half the work AND enjoying it too :) 

Supply List
*Kraft paper sheets
-I purchased mine at Walmart. They were around $2 for 15 sheets of brown cardstock that were already cut at around a 5x7 size. Slightly smaller. But it meant NO cutting and no prep work for running these through the printer!
*Print Design (I created mine on Picmonkey.com)
*Twine
*Hot Glue Gun
*Red Sculpey Clay (one bar) 
*"H" Stamp


First things first, print your invite design out onto your pre-cut sheets of paper. 
If you didn't find pre-cut, go ahead and just cut the sheets to the size you're using & run them through your printer. 

If you'd like to use my invitation design, head over to this post to download the free printable for it. 
In my free printable invite, I left the details blank (times, dates, address, party type) so go ahead and add those details in yourself. 
Picmonkey.com is a free program that I use all the time. I downloaded the Harry Potter font and the Lumos font to use in my invite. Download these yourself and you can still use them in the Picmonkey program under 'add your own font'.

Once you have your printed invitations, go ahead and start working on creating your 'wax' stamps. 
If you haven't gathered by my crazy use of quotations marks, we are NOT actually using wax :) 
I didn't want to mess with the hot, messy stuff so I came up with this version. 
Easy enough for me and my 8 year old to do together. 


For the seals, gather your red Sculpey clay & your stamp. 
I used an "H" for Hogwarts. 
A regular rubber stamp would probably work better but I used the acrylic one I had on hand. 

Pinch off small pieces of the red clay, roll them into balls and then flatten them out. 
I didn't want mine to look perfectly round because they were supposed to be emulating poured wax- (Can I get a Hallelujah for crafts that don't have to be perfect?!?). 
Make rows of these on a cookie sheet. 


To get your imprint, simply push your stamp down into the clay, making sure it leaves an imprint underneath. 
I let Little Man do this part and he took it very seriously. 


After creating enough for your invites, pop them into the oven and bake according to the package instructions (they don't take long at all!). 

After they are baked, they'll be the perfect little addition to your invites!
Give yourself a pat on the back for creating your own crazy-awesome looking seals!! 

Then gather your supplies & actually put those puppies together.
This is where you'll need the twine, hot glue, the wax seals & your printed invites. 


Fold your printed invite into thirds, I made it so the two ends slightly overlapped each other, so it looked like a letter. 
Take your twine & tie it tightly around the invite, snipping the ends off. 
I pulled the tied part to the back of the invite so it wouldn't interfere with placing the seal. 
If they were real wax, they'd just cover the tied part & do its job. 
But hey, we can't all be as perfect as real wax. 

Take your faux wax seals and hot glue them to the front of your invite, where the overlap is. 
Then step back and look at that invite- it was practically made at Hogwarts!! 


We had so much fun putting these together- and Little Man loved handing them out to his friends at school and soccer. 
They may look expensive to do but most people will pay at least 5-10$, even if you're using pre-made cards & envelopes. 

All together, I spent about $10 for supplies (not counting the ink I used). 
Not too terrible considering how fun & unique they turned out!!


Didn't they turn out fun? 
And I know you're now dying to make some of your own wax-less wax seals, aren't you? 

Don't forget that you can get the free download for the invite here
And if you're wanting more fun ideas and pictures for your own Harry Potter party, I'd love for you to check out our version here

Here's to hoping that the next two weeks fly by (no pun intended) and that I'll get enough motivation to get the rest of these HP posts knocked out soon :) 

Happy Tuesday friends!







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