Personalized Notebook

I don’t know about you, but I love giving gifts with a personal touch. And the easiest way to do that is to buy something pre-made and enhance it with your own embellishments. I made a bunch of these as Christmas presents a few years ago. They’re an easy, fun, and relatively cheap way to give a personalized gift that people will cherish.

Recently, I found I needed a notebook to keep a collection of thoughts, instead of having randomly scribbled post-it notes everywhere. After having made these for my sister, cousins, and mom, I realized I should make one for myself! All you need is a notebook and a good variety of stickers. If you’re like me, you have a bin of stickers arranged by occasion so you can pick and choose as you please.

This isn’t really a step-by-step how-to, but rather an idea you can take and run with. It’s something that could easily make a wonderful gift for Mother’s Day or Easter, since they’re fast approaching, as well as a birthday for your favorite writer, musician, or teenager.

The first step is to get a good notebook. This is subjective, however I have some preferences. Leather/Moleskin is probably not your best bet, as I doubt stickers will adhere well, and you’ll want this to last! I prefer a thick, paper-like cover with a matte finish. That being said, if you just wanted to add a splash of personality to your school books, this would certainly work on your standard 1-3 subject notebook. For a gift, however, look in stores with “office/school supplies.” You’ll want a “journal” as opposed to a regular notebook, because frankly those come with the best patterns. I’ve found some great ones in both CVS and Staples, but this flamingo one was purchased at Target.

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Then get decorating! I usually start off by putting the name on the notebook first. That way, you can build a border around it with the rest of the stickers. (or not! there are no rules!)

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In my experience, I’ve found the coolest collages are created when I use a variety of stickers with different shapes, sizes, textures, colors, sheen (glitter, matted, shiny), and thicknesses. Play around to create depth, as it’s more visually interesting and will make your notebook look way more intricate and involved than it was to make. Beyond that, they sell stickers for almost anything you can think of – flowers, sports, hobbies, travel… There are virtually no limits to what you can use and how you can layer everything.

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The best part is with these stickers, while they’ll stay in place when you’re finished, they’re also easily moved before you’re done. I played around with placement of a few of these before settling on a spot. While ideally you’ll find the perfect home for each piece before committing to placement, the truth is that’s not how the creative process works. Once you have more pieces of the puzzle in, you might realize that some things just might look better elsewhere. There was originally another butterfly where the brontosaurus is. I just wasn’t feeling it in the end!

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This notebook has already been put to use, and it makes me smile every time I look at it. I have no doubt you’ll have the same reaction to your finished product, whether or not you’re the intended recipient.

Happy crafting!

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Party Favors – Custom Drinking Cups

I had a big birthday pass recently, and I wanted to throw an epic bash worthy of my new age. Aside from just hoping that good company and good food would create lasting memories, I wanted some sort of party favor, a keepsake, for each of my guests. After hemming and hawing about possibly baking some chocolate salty balls and individually packaging them with some sort of cute label, I realized an interactive project would be more fun (and less work for me!).

Something that had gone over well at my place some years ago was when I had a “decorate your own sugar cookie” station at an Easter party. All my friends got really into customizing their own cookies, and I thought it’d be great if they could create their own takeaway gifts for my birthday. While some ideas are nice in theory, did I really think everyone needed m&ms with my face on it, or a sweatband embroidered with my name and birthday? Or would the memory of a great party simply attach itself to an object when its owner fondly remembered making it at my house? I believed the latter to be true.

I set up a simple station complete with pre-washed sippy cups with krazy straws, a couple of permanent markers, and sheets of stickers with all kinds of fun designs on them. I also had a stack of regular 16oz cups on the table, in case anyone preferred those.

The plastic cups were about $1 each at a party store. I got these particular ones because a.) they had krazy straws (which I would have bought for drinks anyway) and b.) they had a wider mouth and would be easier to wash and reuse. Another unintentional bonus was that these cups were only 12oz, and inadvertently helped people moderate their alcohol intake – not that it was a real concern in this case. But since the straw was so small, and the cup had 4oz less room than the Solo cups, people were drinking more slowly.

As predicted, the cup decorating idea was a hit! While some people created scenes and patterns on their cups, some simply wanted to write their names. Overall, my friends had a great time picking from all the stickers and creating their individualized drinking vessels, which they then used for the rest of the evening. There were no rules, and everyone enjoyed the project. Some people even decorated regular plastic cups. It was a great way to cut down on waste because no one accidentally lost or casually threw away any idle cups.

This is a great, engaging project you can certainly do for your next party with guests of all ages!

You’ll need:

  • Plastic cups with krazy straws (make sure to wash them before using!)
  • Permanent markers
  • a variety of stickers – I got skulls, owls, dinosaurs, cupcakes, fruits, and zoo animals, as well as some blingy rhinestones and stars ($1 per sheet at Target, and they had great options!)

The cups made appearances in most of the photos taken that night, and with good reason! They came out great! Lots of people even kept decorating as the night went on, and it was fun seeing them all involved – even the boys 🙂

With a little simple planning, you too can have a sippy-cup-decorating station at your next party, and drink your Creamsicle in style.