Saturday, March 15, 2008

Frugal Easter Baskets: Personalized Notebooks

Last year I did the usual Easter basket routine and my kids were flying higher than kites for three weeks, thanks to all the sugar from the candy. So this year I decided to modify the contents of the Easter basket, and save myself a ton of money in the process.

I'll post again next week with a picture of the finished baskets and the rest of the contents, but I wanted to throw out this idea for anyone who might be needing another little (inexpensive) something for the baskets.

I got a bunch of spiral-bound notebooks during the after-school clearance at Target. I got them in packs of 10 for $0.25, if I remember correctly. Since I'm including a set of washable markers ($0.50 each during back-t0-school sales) in each basket, I decided to make notebooks for them to write in.

I got the illustrations off a junk mail brochure that arrived last week with a bunch of animal wildlife information cards. They enjoyed the free wildlife cards, and I squirreled away the extra insert with these pictures on them. (I just cut them out with a pair of scissors.) My son is currently interested in eagles since his daddy is. My little girl loves anything with anything baby in it - including baby animals.

After mounting the illustrations to a piece of cardstock cut to size (8x10.5"), I took the coil out of the notebook. It's really quite easy. Just open up the top and bottom of the coil and turn it around and around until the coil is completely free.

Then I mounted the cardstock on top of the old notebook cover with some scrapbook adhesive I had on hand. I then used clear ConTact paper to laminate the front of the cover and keep the animal cutouts in place. [A tip for laminating like this: Cut the laminating film 1" larger lengthwise and widthwise than the item you're laminating.]

If you price the ConTact paper ($5.75 for the roll at my Wal-Mart), you might not consider this too frugal, but I have lots of uses for clear ConTact paper, not the least of which is to protect the covers of softcover books that I use a lot. And it comes with lots of laminating film for your money! I considered it an investment in all the other notebooks I'm going to end up making, now that they know I can.

I used my Crop-A-Dile on the 1/8" hole punch setting to punch the holes in the new cover, using the old cover (which it is mounted to) as a guide for placement. There were 41 holes in my notebooks, so expect your hand to get a little tired!

Then I stacked the new cover on top of the notebook and re-threaded the notebook coil pretty much the same way I un-threaded it ... And they were done!
The cost per notebook was $0.22 (which includes the laminating film, cardstock and notebook).
These are super-easy, and you can use the same concept for almost anything: a recipe book for a bridal shower, a make-your-own address book (using a smaller notebook), etc.

Let me know if you try it!


Anonymous said...

May I ask how you did the lettering and if you can do this project without the Crop-A-Dile?

I'd also love to know other projects you've done with the clear contact paper - just brilliant!

I think they are beautiful and you made some really lovely Easter baskets!

Sophia said...

It looks like I never got around to answering your question - sorry! But in case someone else is wondering, I'll answer it a year late ...

Yes, you could do this project without a Crop-a-Dile. You would just need one of the smaller hand punches (is it 1/16" or 1/8"?). They cost a lot less than the Crop-a-Dile.

As for other projects I've done with clear Contact paper, I'm not sure. I'll have to think on that and maybe post about it sometime.

Sophia said...

Oops! I forgot about the lettering ... I opened up a Word document, measured the graphic and then inserted a text box of that same size. Underneath that, I added the name in another text box (with no visible borders). Once that was done, I changed the first text box to have invisible borders (so it wouldn't show at all when I printed) and printed it onto my paper.

That might sound complicated, but it's really quite easy when you do it. It helps you get the letter and graphic just at the right spot on the cover, too!