Posts Categorized: Projects

DIY Scratch Pads

Most households have piles of paper – worksheets from school, recipes you didn’t love, junk mail – just waiting to be recycled. But wait! How about a reuse first?!? As long as your paper has blank backs, you can turn it into your own DIY scratch pads with this fun project!

Padding Compound or Rubber Cement
8.5 x 11 scratch paper with blank backs
Paper Trimmer (scissors would work too, but be more difficult)
Thin cardboard (to act at the scratch pad’s backing)
Paint brush (the one pictured above ended up being too large, so we went with smaller ones, which you’ll see later)
Not pictured: Two binder clips for each scratch pad

Take a stack of 8.5 x 11 scratch paper and cut it in half lengthwise…

And horizontally. Gather stacks into whatever sized scratch pad you’d like to make.

Next, grab your thin piece of cardboard (this was in a mailer with some art – cardboard from cereal boxes would work too), and cut it to size (4.25 x 5.5).

We made two scratch pads, experimenting with both Rubber Cement and Padding Compound (read on to see our assessment!)

Flip the pages so the blank sides are facing up, and place your piece of thin cardboard under each stack.

Tamp them together so the pages sit evenly on the side you’re going to glue.

Then grab two binder clips and attach them at the edges of the side you’re planning to glue, like the picture above. Make sure to set up your area to catch any glue messes (we put some paper down).

As mentioned in the supply list, my original paint brush was much too big for this project. So I used this one pictured.

For the Rubber Cement, just use the brush included with the bottle. Apply a nice layer – not too thin, but not so it’s glopping off the edges.

For the padding compound, follow the same instructions (this is what it looks like – it looks similar to school glue, but dries differently).

Here’s the start to my layer of padding compound.

Next, set the scratch pads on the edge of a surface to dry (this is the edge of our table).

After 30 minutes or so, flip the scratch pads over so they dry evenly. Let them dry another 30 minutes before checking to see if they’re totally dry (just tug off a sheet and see if it’s got the feel of a scratch pad). We found the Rubber Cement took just a bit longer to dry. Both glues worked for well the project, but the padding compound was just slightly superior.

And you’re done! These are super handy for to-do lists, writing love notes to your family members, or quick runs to the grocery store! Enjoy!

DIY Paper Gift Bow

What better paper project for a “Wrapping Up” magazine theme than a DIY Paper Gift Bow?! It’s a lovely present-topper for holidays, birthdays, or any gift-day! All you need are a few scraps of paper, tape, and scissors!

When I was younger, my mom taught me to make this homemade gift bow. It is a favorite of mine – a version of it actually debuted our Paper Projects back in 2011 (wow!), but as a flower. These bows always amazed friends at parties – “Whoa, you MADE that?!” (In all honesty, it’s really very easy – but you don’t have to tell anyone that!)

Wrapping paper (or any paper)

Choose your wrapping paper. You can make your bow multi-patterened (like I did), or go with one pattern or color to make it more uniform. It’s up to you! You’ll need to make three different sized bow sections (you could do more, if you want to make a giant bow!), so start by folding one corner of your paper up into a triangle. If it’s not an even triangle, trim the edges (so the paper scrap is square-ish in shape).

But keep it as a triangle! And fold the corners together to make a smaller triangle.

And more more time to make an even smaller triangle (it’s the same set-up as making a paper snowflake to start). One you’ve got your smaller, tri-folded triangle, trim up the wide end to be rounded.

It should look like this at this point:

There are three folds on one side…

And one on the other.

We want to cut along these folds, but MAKE SURE NOT TO CUT ALL THE WAY TO THE TIP! It will all fall apart if you do that. Leave a bit uncut at the tip on each fold. Do the three folds, then the one fold on the other side.

Open it up. It should look something like this now!

Grab one “petal,” and sort of roll the sides into itself. This will be your first bow point.

Flip it over and tape the petal you’ve folded at the back.

Repeat until you’ve taped all the bow points.

It should look like this when you’re done with this part (as you can see, my cuts weren’t perfect, but it still totally looks fine in the end!):

Next, decide if you want your next bow section to be larger or smaller than the first section you made. I went with larger, so I needed to make a larger square for my second bow section. To do this, just fold a piece of wrapper paper corner over, but put it more to make it larger!

Repeat the above steps to this section. Now you have your section bow part!

They looked like this together. You can now decide if you want to add another section, and what size you want it to be.

I decided I wanted one bow section in between these two, so I sized the square appropriately and repeated the steps again for my third section (steps not pictured – I added a pink section!).

Now it’s time to assemble them! Make a tape loop.

And put it in the center of your bottom bow section.

Press your next section down on top of the loop, securing it in place.

Repeat with your remaining sections.

Once you’ve taped the sections together, flip the bow over and put a tape loop on the bottom.

Press it on to your wrapped present.

Now cut a small strip of paper for the finishing loop! You can decide which paper you want to use – I went with the same green as the top bow section.

Tape it so it makes a paper ring. Then add a tape loop to the bottom of it (haha, is that enough loops?!), and press it in place in the middle of the bow.

And you’re done! This is sure to impress all your friends and loved ones! I know it did mine! Happy gifting! <3 – Aryn

Gratitude Garland

Any time is a good time to remember what you’re grateful for, but fall leaves + Thanksgiving makes this a truly perfect time for a Gratitude Garland. Download and print these leaves here, then decorate for the season with this super easy paper project!

Paper leaves / acorn (download here and print on cardstock)
Glue or glue stick
Marker or Pen

Download and print the leaves & acorn (designed by our awesome summer 2021 intern, Claire Sanderman). I used different colored cardstock for our project – you can decide how you want your Gratitude Garland to look. You could print on white cardstock, or just one color, or do a variety like I did here.

Cut out the leaves.

Ask your family and friends to write things they’re grateful for on the leaves and acorn. You could do this throughout the entire fall, or the month of November if you’re planning to have this as a decoration for Thanksgiving. Or you could do it during your actual Thanksgiving party, as an activity for all in attendance! Here I was getting a preview of how it might look hanging up.

Once at least one of the leaves is filled out, you can put it on your string! Cut the string to your desired length, and then hang it up where you plan to display the garland (over a window, above a fireplace, in an entryway…).

Then take a glue stick and glue the top part of the leaf/acorn stem.

Fold over the string and hold for a few seconds to ensure the glue is sticking (also who DOESN’T love cake and presents?!?)!

Adjust on the string to wherever you’d like that leaf to be, and enjoy putting this gratitude garland together! Happy fall! – Aryn