Monday, October 19

DIY for someone else


It's obvious that there are lots of us interested in DIY projects. But why DIY? For me, it's usually to be able to have something that I want for less money than it would cost to buy the item or to hire someone to make it for me. But it's also because doing something myself is fun and rewarding. This past week I got to combine those two attributes into a fun DIY project for someone else--or, more precisely, for a group of someones.

I've mentioned that we're helping to start a new church. (By the way, if you're in Durham or Chapel Hill, North Carolina and searching for a good church, let me know!) One of the wonderful things about helping to start a church is that everyone gets to contribute to the effort. Everyone's gifts and talents are necessary. I think churches are always supposed to be that way, but the needs are most evident in a little fledgling group.

This past Sunday was our very first chance to meet on Sunday morning. We've been looking for quite awhile for space to meet on Sunday mornings, and we were finally able to rent space from a local elementary school. My job for our first Sunday morning service? To create a welcome table to greet folks as they entered the school building.

As you might imagine, my budget for doing this was pretty small. Our little church needs every dollar for more pressing needs than decor. So I sought to use more time than money and see what I could do.

First, the needs. I figured we needed a tablecloth to cover the standard cafeteria table. Then some kind of container to hold mints. (Does anyone else like to find a bowl of peppermints on a welcome table?) And finally a large flower arrangement of some kind.

Here's what I came up with.

First, a tablecloth. I have yards and yards of upholstery fabric that I got on clearance for less than $1 per yard. I originally bought this fabric to make upholstered headboards for my guest room, but after that project and a couple of others I still had nearly 20 yards.

So I cut two identical 2-yard panels and, employing the same method I used on my DIY bedspread, I made a tablecloth. Total cost: $0.

Next, a bowl to hold mints. I had an old Revere Ware bowl that was not only tarnished but stained beyond repair. So I spray-painted it and then distressed the edges a bit. I like the way it looks, and it's just the right size to hold peppermints. Total cost: $0.

Second, a flower arrangement. Since the welcome table is in a large open space, I needed to come up with a large arrangement. The first thing I did was to create a vase for the flowers. I'd admired several arrangements held in containers made of wood. I had these sticks that I'd bought last year on clearance for 99 cents.

I cut them in half and spray-painted them dark brown. Then I hot-glued them onto a cheap glass cylinder vase, just like I did with the pencil vase I made for my son's teacher.

Even cut in half, the sticks are much taller than the glass cylinder, so I ended up with a very tall container for my flowers.

The flowers themselves were the most fun. I briefly considered buying fresh flowers for the welcome table, until I realized that even at Sam's I would have to spend $20 or more for enough flowers to fill my vase. Not bad for an occasional splurge, but not something I can afford to do every week. So I opted to make an artificial arrangement that we can use throughout the autumn. I'd never worked with artificial flowers before, so I didn't realize how much fun it could be. Why? Since the "stems" are wires, the flowers stay right where you put them! Woo hoo!

Michael's had all their fall silk flowers on sale for 50% off, so I was able to get a lot for very little money. I started with a product that Michael's calls a "bush":

Not exactly beautiful, but I chose it because it was, well, bushy. I figured it would be a good anchor to hold more beautiful pieces. For my large arrangement, I used two of the bushes. Next I added pretty pieces: artificial leaves, cat tails, wheat stalks, berries, sunflowers, feathers. I just poked them one by one into the bushes. Since they're artificial, they stayed right where I poked them! Then I added a few curly branches from my yard. I finished the whole thing by tying some fallish ribbon around the vase.

And here it is:

Total cost: $18.

All together:

I took this photo on my screened-in porch; that's my back yard in the background. As you can imagine, the flowers showed up even better in the white cinder-block hallway of the elementary school. The welcome table is the first stop for folks coming in the door, and I think it was in fact a welcoming place.

I got the fun of doing something myself as well as the satisfaction of doing for others. That's a big win-win in my book!

Check out all the fun projects at Kimba's!


  1. Lovely!! :) Such a pretty arrangement. I just love how resourceful you are...those sticks are genius. ;) Btw, do you know where Siler City is?? My Nannie lives there. :) Visiting from Kimba's party tonight. :)

  2. You did a great job! Everything is gorgeous - especially the flowers :)

  3. Very nice. I'm soooo bad at floral arrangements. You've got the touch! It's a beautiful fall arrangement.

  4. I love your arrangement, I can never seem to get them to look so nice and full. Isn't it wonderful the feeling we get from doing something for others? :)

  5. Lovely arrangement and I really like that you did it for little $$$.

  6. Love that flower arrangement! You've inspired me to try that! :)

  7. Wow, that vase is awesome! I would feel very welcome when met by a greeter at that wonderful table.

    Thanks for the help with my valance. Yes, the plum is an accent color I'm bringing in to the bath to pick up the flowers in the picture. I've picked up hand towels and I may trim the top of the white shower curtain. Maybe use the same trim on the valance and shower curtain???

    Some days I just can't seem to move forward like I would like to.

  8. Give the girl a gold star!!! You've done good. The flower arrangement looks fabulous and I love the fabric for the tablecloth.

  9. Your flower arrangement turned out beautifully! Looks right from a florist! I love the fact that it's all frugally made too. And you are so very correct....DIY gives SUCH a sense of accomplishment. Makes me smile when I know I made it and it cost very little to make me happy plus look great! (long run on sentence.)

  10. A. The What a super fabulous addition. After all my coffee drinking, it is what I needed, so as not to drive away visitors :)

    B. All the decor looked fabulous!

    Thanks for all you do!

  11. Richella~ what a beautiful, thrifty, welcoming table. And you chose the best mints to put on them~Bob's soft ones! I would be snatching those up :)

  12. It turned out just beautiful...and perfect for fall! You really do have the touch, which I DO NOT have. I stink at floral arranging. Love those really can't go wrong with feathers!


  13. I love how resourceful you are! And creative! Love it!



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