Easy Inexpensive Handmade Gifts and Other Blogging Lies


Easy inexpensive diy gifts and other blogging lies


I’m in love with everything handmade and I’m determined to make this a mostly “handmade Christmas” with lots of decorating and gift ideas that I plan on sharing with all of you (Or all y’all if your from South of the Mason Dixon line) over the next few weeks. So when I got an email from one of my long time readers sharing her thoughts about what constitutes easy, inexpensive and handmade, I had to slam the brakes on some of my projects. The insights she shared gave me a wake up call about the difference between what bloggers call easy and simple and what readers think of our ideas.

Let’s call my reader, Donna. Because maybe that’s her name and she said it was okay for me to share that and the details of her emails. Donna wrote that one of the reasons she decides to follow a blog is that they consistently give great ideas that she finds doable as a hobby crafter. However, Donna has been unsubscribing left, right and center from blogs these days because she’s tired of “easy handmade inexpensive DIY” projects that really aren’t. As in they require fancy and expensive tools that most people don’t own. She wrote to me after I posted about my pompom garland because she noticed it said “No fancy tool required” and that prompted her to reach out as a “normal person”. How cool is that?

Easy, inexpensive handmade projects and other lies bloggers and crafters tell

Donna pointed out that every single pin she explored lately or post she’s read has required either a Cricut, a Silhouette, a pompom maker, or fancy and expensive scrapbooking supplies to make the promised easy handmade Christmas gift. Donna went on to say that she has been a hobby crafter for years and has many friends who do the same and that she doesn’t know a single person (aside from bloggers) that actually own any of these things. She’s particularly annoyed by the simple and inexpensive Christmas ideas that involved having a $300 cutting machine on hand.

Oh. My. Stars. Total light bulb moment for me! Three years ago, I was right there with her. Pinterest and I had just been introduced and I was pinning like mad. And every single damn time I clicked through there was a cheerful blogger sharing how easy it was to DIY  all the things with with really expensive equipment. I would snort, roll my eyes, and get the hell out of there (Hello. Bounce rate?)

Need an example?….Remember the pallet craze? How awesome it was to make all those great signs and wall art for free? Except those free signs required a reciprocating saw to dismantle said pallet and a Silhouette to make the letters or outlines for the free signs. How is that free, I used to wonder?Easy and inexpensive diy projects and other blogging lies

I’ve since succumbed to the Silhouette craze and I love that cutting machine so much that sometimes I want to buy it a drink. Which means I’ve kind of forgetten how expensive that little baby was to start up and that nothing I make is free and easy. Has it paid for itself over the past two years? Probably. But even vinyl is costly and blades and cutting mats….and….you get where I’m going with this.

Easy and inexpensive diy projects and other lies

Let’s be honest….crafting and handmade isn’t free and sometimes it’s not even cost friendly when you see how little a finished project sometimes costs at Hobby Lobby or even Walmart. Supplies aren’t cheap. Since I’m not a knitter, I was a little shocked by the cost of the yarn I needed for my pompom garland. I’m now a yarn sale stalker because I heart pompoms so dang much. (Warning…pompom projects ahead!)

Easy and Inexpensive Crafts and Other Lies Bloggers Tell

Because I’m a crafter, a blogger, and a designer, I do have a pretty big supply of, well, supplies. So I have often blindly said the cost for a certain project was $0 because I had the supplies on hand. I forget that not everyone has an entire basement full of leftover craft paper, fabric remnants, and lampshades. Or a $300 cutting machine and all sorts of “leftover vinyl”.

I’m not saying it’s not worth it….I love my Silhouette, but I think some of us bloggers have lost touch with reality and regular readers when we promise an easy and inexpensive craft that starts with a $300 machine. Guilty….so dang guilty of this.

The bottom line is this…..we bloggers love what we do and we’re excited to share our ideas and projects with others but we can’t pretend DIY and handmade projects are cheap and easy when they’re not. We craft because we love it and our readers do too or they wouldn’t be reading and pinning our work. But crafting isn’t free and it often isn’t all that easy either. Sometimes it’s not even cost effective. Maybe we need to be a little more honest in our posts when we promise easy, inexpensive, and handmade. Is it handmade if a machine did it for us? Maybe. Is it free or inexpensive if it involves anything other than toilet paper rolls, grocery bags, and used dryer sheets? Because those are pretty much the only thing everyone has “on hand”. Except maybe wine corks. Got lots of those 😉

Easy and inexpensive handmade crafts and other lies bloggers tell

Thanks for the wake up call, Donna. I can’t promise that I’ll live up to the easy and free label every again but I’m going to try to throw in a couple of projects in the next few weeks that don’t involve expensive tools that regular folks don’t own. It may mean less traffic or less pins but sometimes we need to give readers the real goods and not just the traffic driving pretty images and headlines.

Who’s with me?



Sharing these observations here and over at Cedarhill FarmhouseFluster BusterCoastal Charm,  From My Front Porch to YoursTabler for Two,  A Life In Balance and Savvy Southern Style.

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  1. Thank you for this post. I agree whole heartedly. Often times I’ll read about some really tray project, and by the time I buy everything I would need….ugh. I’ve become more and more careful of the blogs I follow as well. Thanks agai

  2. Donna is right! I’m not very crafty and one of the reasons is that the supplies cost so much and I live in fear of it looking like crap after I spent all the money. For example, in my neighborhood we had a craft night this summer. It was so much fun to get together with all the girls. We made beaded necklaces….after I bought all the supplies including pliers, I spent about $40 and it looked like a cheerios necklace. Darn!! It was a lesson learned and fun so it was worth it but surely there’s another way.

    • Bahahaha! I’ve been there! Worked my butt off on something and it looked like it was made by a pre-schooler. I love the idea of a crafting night….the fun of it all trumps the outcome for sure.

  3. I’m with Donna! Whenever I see something made with a Silhouette or Cricut, off I go, away from said site. I don’t have one and don’t plan on buying one any time soon even though I think what you can do with them is pretty neat. I just bought myself a staple gun! It’s so cool and cost me $14. So, if you have any crafts involving the power-imbuing staple gun, I would love to read your post!

    • I heart my staple gun! Stay tuned….I’m doing a bench and a headboard in the new year once the Christmas blitz is over! Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment 🙂

  4. Great reminder. I love my Silhouette so much and use it all the time, but good to remember to do some things without it. I do try to offer PDF options when I have a cut file so you can print and cut out with scissors if you want to (but I never do cause I have the Silhouette!).

    • I love my Slihouette, too. That’s a great idea to make a pdf file. Before my Silhouette days, I used to try to print and cut by hand and that would make it much easier.

  5. LOVE this. Donna is so right. A lot of the ‘easy diy’ projects out there are easy – with the right equipment and a certain creative flare. There’s a reason all those ‘pinterest fail’ sites exist 🙂 Thanks for sharing with the Wednesday Showcase, I had to laugh.

    • Donna is really on to something. I have a Silhouette so I can’t complain and a basement that looks like a Hobby Lobby store room…but still. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Jenna this is true, and I’ve really never dealt with machines because I’m still a Donna. The most expensive thing I have on hand is mod podge. I can’t see spending a fortune on crafts, so I really do make cheap inexpensive things. Or even better to come up with an idea that no one has thought of that costs nothing but the idea.

    • I love my craft room and it’s full of things that normal people don’t own. So full, that I’ve been known to let people shop my basement. I love your blog and you have some great ideas for sure.

  7. This post is fantastic! And true! I barely know how to cook so I sometimes feel the same way about recipe blogs! Thanks for putting this out there, I know I’ll be thinking more carefully about my craft posts!

    • Thanks, Heather! I’m a pretty good cook and I’ve had a ridiculous number of recipe fails lately that looked good on Pinterest and promised to be easy. Easy was PB&J. Crafting is the same.

  8. THANK YOU for writing this! I was beginning to think I was the only one who thought crafting should be cheap and cheerful! It’s so frustrating to get all excited about a project and then realize they’re using a cutting machine. And it’s not a money thing for me — I just don’t want “supplies” that require “supplies” in order for you to use it. Old contact paper and an image and scissors work just fine! 😀 Take care, Cynthia

  9. I never make any expensive crafts, because i can not afford them. I love upcycling and i try keeping all my crafts low or no cost! Yes, i’d love a cutting machine, but who can afford it. But, as you say i get less pins and shares! I do not even have a craft room, just a craft drawer! Thank you for sharing!

  10. I cannot describe how much I love this post! I love crafting and I’ve been doing it for years, only a few of those have been while blogging. I know when something I make it quick, easy and inexpensive to a non-blogger and I do lots of posts for those types of projects. When I’m looking for inspiration and I read “quick and easy and inexpensive” I used to expect that. Now, not so much. I’ve seen far too many posts labeled as such that are none of the above. You have nailed it with your post. I’m so glad you shared this at Snickerdoodle Sunday!

    • Thanks, Beverly. It’s too true….which means I’ve started thinking twice about my posts because I do have all the tools and an entire basement full of crap. I mean crafts. But crap, too.

  11. I’m so glad Donna spoke up and even more “gladder” that you took notice. I don’t buy the expensive machines because I can’t justify the expense for one, or at the most maybe two, projects. Then I also think about how will we be able to buy supplies for these machines when the craze is over and they’re never heard from again? Oh, wait, the next fad will be how to “junk” these machines in style:) I feel the same way about a project that I view and would love to do, but it uses a particular stain or varnish to get that particular finish and stain for one project isn’t cheap either. I may love it for one project, but not enough to want my entire house cluttered with projects using the same stain. Please continue to share this article with blog hops (where I came from) and maybe you will start a fad:) Thanks for the article.

    • You have just answered the question of why I have two entire cabinets full of paints, stains, and varnishes. Because I rushed out and bought them with one project in mind. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  12. Yep, I’m hearin’ ya! Don’t have the machines. Have a sewing machine though, but forget that some (many?) people don’t have those either. Love my crafts, but irks me that I have ‘leftovers’ from projects that only needed one of a thing that you can only buy in packets of 100. Or 1000. What to do with the other 99 or 999? I’m featuring this at Five Star Frou-Frou this week Jenna. Thanks! Mimi xxx

    • Thanks for the feature, Mimi!! This is why my basement is full of “Leftovers”. Sometimes I do Pinterest searches just to find up a way to use my leftovers. Two cabinets of paint and a shelving unit full of throw pillows or pillow materials. And now scrap fabric since I started sewing again (badly but still trying, lol).

  13. Amen to that! I love my scissors and my £4 Xacto knife – I use then for all my craft cutting needs.
    I think sometimes when we have a huge stash of craft stuff we might forget that newbies might need to go out a buy everything.
    In the UK we have Charity shops rather than Goodwill shops and they are a great place to get balls of yarn. Embroidery thread and sewing thread are other ones that get me, SO expensive when you have to buy them.

    • I hear ya, Julie. Thrift/charity/goodwill shops are the best for embroidery hoops and some crafting supplies. I just nabbed an enormous bag of pillow stuffing. Of course, now I need to make more pillows. Endless cycle, lol.

  14. “Is it free or inexpensive if it involves anything other than toilet paper rolls, grocery bags, and used dryer sheets? Because those are pretty much the only thing everyone has “on hand”. Except maybe wine corks. Got lots of those” YEP! 🙂 🙂

    It would be neat to see more craft bloggers posting DIY ideas two ways: the first way with the fancy equipment, and a second way of being able to actually do something with no special supplies. Might be a little more accessible for more people?

  15. Brilliant post, you made me laugh! You’re so right and I admit to spending quite a bit of money on supplies to make projects to share on my blog, and I haven’t made that many yet. I did buy myself a pom pom maker last year because I just couldn’t get the hang of making pom poms without them. And I think a pom pom maker is an everyday essential really 😉

    • That’s what everyone tells me except when I looked at them online I couldn’t figure them out. Even with Youtube, cuz I’m special like that 😉 I have to say my hands get a little tired of being pompom makers after awhile. Have a great weekend!

  16. Jenna, LLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! This. Just this! Perfect. You are so smart. I have been seeing lately that we overlook things in blogging because we are so busy. We don’t have time to think cause we got so much to do. So we cut corners, justify and forget who we are writing to! This hits the nail on the head. If we all took a minute and looked at each thing we did individually, we would be amazed, and wonder why we are doing it, or why we started, but the activity is not for our audience, it’s a habit.

    And I personally don’t want to put $50 into a DIY project unless it’s really incredible! And I want to know up front! Sometimes I like to read about things people made that are too expensive for me, but not all the time.

    Way to go! xx

    • I don’t mind spending the dough if I think a project is uber fab but it has to be super special. I also admit that crafting is a habit. A highly addictive habit, at least for me. But then again, I have a craft supply hoarding habit taking over my basement.I keep waiting for the hoarder tv show producers to knock on my door. I plan to invite them in. craft things with them, and send them on their way again with their arms full of DIY projects. 😉 Thanks for the comment love, Nikki!

  17. What an interesting post. I thought about this so many times, but nobody ever mentioned it. When a DIY project becomes too costly it really does take the fun out of it and you end up not making it.

  18. Love, love, LOVE this post. Pinning, tweeting, FB’ing, etc! I know I’m guilty of a few of these, but I agree with Donna. Even as a DIY blogger, I still don’t own fancy woodworking equipment, so I still can’t do a lot of my favorite pins. I have a Cricut AND a Silhouette and I love them. When I use them in crafts, I always try to offer an alternative idea as well. Love the wake up call, thanks for sharing at Merry Monday!

  19. Great post Jenna. I usually don’t craft anything unless I already have the supplies. I do, however, pick up crafting supplies when I see them at thrift stores or marked down at craft shops but I would never go out and buy something especially for a project. So many Christmas items can be recrafted into something else. One thing that gets me is people buying new decorations and/or a new tree every year. Like what? Our tree is 15 years old and still going strong. Most of the decorations are what I’ve had all my life plus the handmade ones from the kids. Why would you want to change it just for the sake of keeping up with fashion and trends? Thanks for linking up to Thriving on Thursdays. (I’m featuring this at tomorrow’s Christmas round up.)

    Anne xx

  20. What a great post and wonderful reminder!! As a blogger, a Silhouette has been on my wish list for quite a while because of all of the amazing things you can do with it. But it’s SO expensive and I haven’t been able to justify the cost yet. However, I am so guilty of saying that a project cost $0 just because I happen to have a hoarders closet when it comes to crafting. Good reminder to realize not everyone has junk flowing from every corner of their home!

  21. Hi Jenna! I just plain love this post and so does everyone else! Thank you for sharing. You are one of the fan favorites at the Sunday Showcase from the Make it Pretty Monday party at The Dedicated House. Here is the link so you can check out your feature. http://www.thededicatedhouse.com/2015/12/the-sunday-showcase-from-make-it-pretty.html Hope to see you again tonight at Make it Pretty! Have a gorgeous afternoon. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  22. YES! I broke down and just wanted to make one, maybe even two, “easy”, appliqued pillows to “Christmas up” my great room. (I mean, I had seen them in all these home tours.) After four stores, realizing I probably needed a fancy machine after all much less couldn’t find a decent plaid material, anywhere, unless I needed to fly to Scottland… and now totally mad about Christmas, I plumb gave up! I thought this is ridiculous AND EXHAUSTING! PS I found you through your pink pillow pic via justagirlandherblog.com PSS Where is everyone finding that plaid material, anyway… oh wait, they’re buying not crafting. :p

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