Posts in “DIY”

8 Creative Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas (Budget-friendly)

Saturday, December 12, 2020


Here are some creative and fun Christmas gift wrapping ideas that you can try at home. Whether you have gift wrappers or maybe you are on the budget, there are fun ways to wrap up those gifts this Christmas. I’ve shared some tips and creative ideas down below. I hope you enjoy it!

Gift Wrap Idea #1: Use Christmas tree ornament. I use random ornament that we have. I get most of my ribbons in consignment store.

Gift Wrap Idea #2: If I need small boxes but I don’t have one, I like to recycle cereal/food packaging boxes and use the inside surface. You can try to draw Christmas characters, put ribbons, attach an image on top, paste cut-out pictures or wrap with a gift wrapper.

Gift Wrap Idea #3 : Use scarf or scrap fabric to wrap up your present.

Gift Wrap Ideas #4 Use favorite movie character. Tutorial and free printable here

Gift Wrap Idea #5 Make your own Christmas stencil. Tutorial here

Gift Wrap Idea #6 Use paper cut outs to make Christmas character faces

Gift Wrap Idea #7 Use and design brown lunch paperbag

Gift Wrap Idea #8 Try painted gift wrap using artificial pine leaf as brush. Tutorial here

Have fun wrapping!


DIY Christmas Stocking Holder Village Inspired

Monday, November 23, 2020

It’s last week of November and finally we already put up our Christmas tree this weekend. I’m sharing today our first decoration that  I did for Christmas. It’s a DIY Christmas stocking holder village inspired. It’s made of scrap woods that my husband and I found in a construction site. I’m not a pro in woodworking by the way so I believe that you guys can do this project too! 🙂

I always wanted to get  some house decorative figurines or village Christmas set for house decors but we’re too frugal to buy 😉 But I think they are so pretty to use as decoration for Christmas. Some village sets are made in metals, ceramic etc. and it can be expensive and some are simple and less expensive like what I found here . These decorative houses or villages inspired me to create this wooden Christmas stocking holder; it’s easy and cheap too!


We have some scrap woods in our garage so I used some of the woods and cut into different height using circular saw + cut some wooden blocks for the base.  After that, I sanded them all and start to screw the bottom part. I use hook for each house, I used this one. To finalize the design, I searched online for house decorative style windows and doors to give me some ideas on how the houses will look like. I keep the design simple, I used white paint to create the windows and door.

This is our last year’s set up. My friend’s husband made us a wooden ladder with hooks for the stockings.

I knew that this year, I’d like to place our Christmas tree close to our tall kitchen counter that is next to our living room so I can hang up our stockings. We don’t fireplace or mantle in our house so I thought the tall kitchen island counter can be a good place for stockings.


I hope you enjoy this simple and easy Christmas decoration project.  You can view video process here on my Instagram.



Star Wars Family Halloween 2020 + DIY costumes

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Happy Halloween! It’s been more than 3 months that I haven’t updated this blog. Sorry, things got busy in our family as my husband and I became licensed foster parents and got our first placement a couple months ago 🙂 Anyway, I thought to update my blog today since it’s Halloween again! If you know, we enjoy wearing costumes with our kids (see our last year’s family costume here,) I think it’s a fun way to build memories with them!

My husband chose Star Wars as the theme for our family Halloween costume this year. He’s a fan of this movie but I’m not. BUT, I know that my husband and the boys are excited to be in the Star Wars character for Halloween so no questions asked.

Dressing up for Halloween is fun but I have to be mindful in spending since there will be 6 people who need costumes. Handmade or DIY costumes are a great way to save up your money. But of course, if you are not into making your own costume, I found sites where you can find and purchase these character costumes. I will link the site below.

The first costume that I made is R2D2 for my second son.

Using a plant stand, I used an exercise ball and covered it with a garbage plastic bag to do paper mache (it was probably 4 layers). Aluminum foil for silver material on R2D2’s head, you can also use metallic spray paint.

I found random stuff in the house (warning: I’m a plastic container / lid hoarder). I used plastic small cups, laundry lids and milk formula lids.  Too much junk right!?  I also added a small headlight on the lower part of the head to get that R2D2 headlight that he has.

I attached a helmet inside so it’s easy to wear around while trick or treating. And if you are curious if the costume are heavy, my son runs wearing them lol 


I used a wire fence (?) that we use for our garden to create the R2D2’s body. We found this drywall tarp cover in a construction site near us and used it to cover the entire wire surface.  The only blue material that I have at home is this blue stripe paper bag  and use it to decorate the R2D2’s body. I used my guitar holder straps to hold the costume so my son can carry them around easily.


It might look junky but as long as it looks R2D2, that will work for one night 😉 

Total cost: $0

Next costume is for my eldest son as C3PO…

I have to spend golden fabric for this costume and a few other things. I started to sew his costume and used my son’s pajamas to get a pattern for the long sleeves and pants

I found this chestplate from Dollar Store and added the rounded part using lids from milk formula, green olives and milk. And then, painted it with white acrylic paint as a primer to pop out the gold color. I used gold acrylic paint to finish the accessory. Again, you can use spray paint if you prefer.

Don’t forget the gloves! I traced my son’s hands but the pattern was too small for his hand when the gloves were done. I tried my hand size and it worked perfectly for him.

I used a scrap black fabric to complete the look and used colorful pipe wires to portray C3P0’s costume. I found a C3PO mask  and Amazon was nice to let me keep it since the mask was so dusty when it arrived.

He’s very into it, don’t you think!? 😉

Total Cost: less than $10

Okay, let’s proceed to my third son.. Whoa! so many boys here haha! 

Nothing much to explain here, very simple costume for Yoda. I used my jacket for this photo but I ended up using a beige Thai pants that my husband got from Thailand before. For the mask,  I decided to purchase a Yoda mask since they love wearing masks around the house. But I actually wish I could just make DIY ears, it’s easy to make and you can find a tutorial on Youtube.

Yoda is ready to harvest some veggies. 

Total cost: $23

Next costume is for our foster daughter, Baby L! I’m glad that she’s with us in fun times! She’s our little Ewok.

I found a baby bonnet tutorial on Youtube and stitched these ears that I found in a thrift store (it came from a winter hat). For the brown fabric, I used an old cloth bag  and added some details using embroidery thread and cotton rope. I also added a weapon on the side using scrap fabric and filled it up with pillow stuffing.

She is adorable! We are very blessed and thankful that she’s here. My kids love her!

And Yoda, too!

Costume cost: $2.99 

Next costume is for my husband, Darth Maul.

Brent is wearing his black jacket with a hoodie.  I used a black curtain fabric and created a hole for the neck. We are too cheap to buy the real costume and even the real weapon, that’s why I only tape the lightsaber swords together and painted them red. My husband wasn’t happy with that but I asked him “Do you wanna spend and buy new ones?”, he didn’t answer he’s happy in the end 😉

I face painted my husband’s face but I told him I don’t like the small horns since it looks scary and also, that will be a lot of work to do  lol

Total cost: $2

Lastly, here’s my Star Wars character – Aayla Secura. My husband chose this character for me. If you ask me who this character is, I really don’t know. All I know is that she needs more fabric for her costume 😉

For the headpiece. I tried to use fabric paint but it didn’t work. I ended up using fabric and sew to make the shape.

I used egg cartons for the ears and covered them with blue fabric.

The colors are not exactly as Aayla Secura’s headpiece. I only use what I have at home except for the blue fabric that I got from a local fabric shop of my friend.


My costume cost: $20

NERD!!! haha


Here are the ready-made costumes for Star Wars, if you don’t have time to make one:

R2D2 Costume for Infant

R2D2 Costume for kids

C3PO costume with mask

C3PO mask only 

Yoda mask

Yoda costume for babies

Yoda costume for kids

Ewok costume

Darth Maul Costume

Aayla Secura (headpiece)


I hope you enjoy reading this post and inspire you. Happy Halloween from Smith family!



Making Good, Messy Memories!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

This post is sponsored by all® laundry detergent. #allLaundryPartner

I learned to paint when I was in college getting my BA in Fine Arts. I’ve always enjoyed painting – it’s fun and there are always new techniques and styles to learn. But as a mom of small three boys, it can be challenging and stressful to paint with kids. Messy hands, messy house, messy clothes…oh boy lol. When I think about the mess, it holds me back from  enjoying art time with my kids. But as my husband once told me, it’s important to let kids try new things – even messy things! –  in order for them to explore and learn about art. 

I’m thrilled that I teamed up with all® laundry detergent to bring you a fun and messy painting activity for the family that helps children explore art and makes good memories for the kids. all®  laundry detergent is the detergent our family has used ever since we started our family. I love how this brand focuses on putting family first and encourages parents to create messy moments without fear. Parents don’t need to worry: it’s “all good”, because all® laundry detergent is there to help clean up our messy kids’ clothes!

For today’s art time, we did a yarn painting activity where I covered the canvas using painter’s tape and let the kids use yarn instead of paint brushes to paint the canvas with water based paint. I had the kids dip their yarn into the paint (we used washable paints), then sling it or drag on it the canvas. As if this wasn’t messy enough, I also let them use their hands 😉 

This was a really messy activity, but I had confidence that all® stainlifter® OXI liquid detergent would keep my laundry bright and fresh since it fights 100% of stain types (*bleachable, oily/waxy, enzymatic, particulate). This detergent works effectively even in cold water, and can also be used for pre-treating by rubbing a small amount on a stain before washing.

My kids love activities that create a mess… My eldest son told me “I love this messy painting mom!”. Messy activities are okay sometimes because they can help kids learn about art while also making good memories for them. 

I love how all® laundry detergent allows me to put life before laundry™ and enjoy these kinds of moments as times to treasure for the future and worry about the mess later.

Art projects or activities with the kids are not the time to be perfectionists. Instead, enjoy the moment you and your kids are building. Go and try all® stainlifter® OXI liquid detergent available in Amazon for your next messy activity with your kids.

 What kind of messy kid projects do you have in mind?


Kitchen Organization on a budget

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

I love organizing our home. I think that is something that I got from my mama. Last month, I finally organized our kitchen on a very budget-friendly basis. I always like to try DIY first and see if it works before buying. I used some upcycled material (jars, juice containers, oats containers) and made DIY containers that ended up working well for the pantry and our kitchen.

Here are repurposed glass jars and re-used juice containers. Most ground or small food goes into a juice container since the opening is smaller, such as grits, popcorn, small pasta, and Cream of Wheat. Other foods such as nuts, cereals, raisins are inside the glass jars. I spray painted the lids white just to look nice.

In my childhood days, I watched my mama soaking the label stickers on glass jars in warm water with dish soap to remove the labels easily.  You can find some residue afterwards, but a mix of baking soda and cooking oil easily removes it with a little rubbing. Using steel wool helps.

To separate and store other foods in the pantry, I used DIY containers made of small boxes and covered them with scrap fabrics. You can find a tutorial here and free downloadable labels.

Some of the containers in our pantry came from a thrift store hunt. You can definitely save $$ if you stop on your nearest consignment or thrift store! The couple of containers we bought new are for flour, rice and sugar. We keep these items in containers with wheels (we found them here),  so they’re easy to pull out if we need them. These containers are actually for pet food…but it’s just a container, right? 😉

We keep our plastic wraps, foil, and parchment paper in a recycled cardboard box.

Seasoning packets, baking stuff,etc. are in a small plastic organizer.

Another way I organized our kitchen is using cardboard/ cereal boxes for plastic food lids. I started this a couple years ago and it has always worked well in our kitchen! I made these with  strong cardboard covered with fabric. You can also use cereal boxes and cover with thin fabric so it won’t add extra weight when you attach them on the cabinet doors. I used velcro and hot glue. You could also use small hooks with double sided tape.

I know this organizer doesn’t look classy, but again, it really works for our kitchen. I love how these repurposed oats containers help to organize our stuff in the kitchen. It makes it so much easier to find and grab things, like my husband’s lunch bags or dishcloths. You only need a few large rubber bands to attach the containers together and keep them in place.

I hope this post gives you ideas for solutions to keep your kitchen and pantry organized in a budget-friendly way!

Which parts of your kitchen do you need to organize?

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April Recap: family, our first garden and my kid’s favorite learning activities

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Tomorrow is the last day of April. I thought to share for today’s post on what we’ve done this month during the time of quarantine, how we celebrated a couple of special events like Easter and my birthday and a few personal DIY projects that I did. I rarely share personal posts about me and my family here on my blog, maybe because I prefer to share them on my Instagram and/or in person. So here’s our month of April recap!

Easter Sunday, my youngest son’s first official egg hunting in the backyard. We used our backyard to hide plastic eggs (with raisins and Cheerios inside) for the boys. Our garden was a great place to hide eggs as well.


Easter activity, it’s all about Jesus. After we worshiped via online, the kids have coloring activities that focus on Jesus.

We do schooling in the morning. Here’s my daily routine schedule with my three boys if you’d like to try to set up a schedule with your kids.

My 4 year old son is learning how to write numbers. He enjoys math, like Dada.

Finding letters/words. We use Duplo lego blocks.

I made a chart for “days of the week” and a “weather chart”. Every morning, I ask each of my eldest kids to update these charts.

Little Archaeologists.  My boys tried this for the first time. All you have to do is to put random toys in a large bowl and cover them with water and freeze it. They love doing it but as a mom, I’m a little worried because they have to use pointed metal like screwdrivers to break the ice..imagine there are three little hands :/

Watercolor painting. I asked them if they want to follow a tutorial or paint on their own. Guess what they chose? Hint: Abstract

“Spring” painting using acrylic and fork

Here’s our first garden. Brent planted okra, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, green beans, watermelon, snap peas, peppers, cilantro and four kinds of tomatoes. Brent loves tomatoes so much! And of course, all plants are taken care of by my husband.. Me and my kids are just here to water the garden 😉

Bedtime story with Dada.

Cardboard DIY hot wheels, tutorial here

I’ve been doing a lot of hobbies and DIY projects to try. I think the West Elm Inspired area rug for my boy’s bedroom is my favorite project.

And my second favorite DIY for my boys is the cardboard playhouse.

I don’t remember if I posted here this oil painting that I’ve been working on since the beginning of last year 😉 Not all done… but we will get there 🙂 You can watch this painting process on my Instagram story highlights called “painting”, you will see how I started it.

April is my birthday month and this is how I celebrated my birthday; folding little clothes 😉 Since my birthday month is during COVID-19 pandemic, we are all at home except for Brent who needs to go to work. And hey, I had Pad Thai and chocolate cake. That’s all I want for my birthday 😉 


See you next month!




Fun Cardboard Playhouse for Kids

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A cardboard playhouse is always a big hit for my children. If you have followed my blog, I made my first cardboard playhouse a couple years ago when I only had two kids. And now that I have three kids, I wanted the older boys to experience a playhouse again with their youngest brother.

Cardboard is great when I want to create something new, fun and playful for my children. It is a cheap and effective way to entertain my kids,  especially during this COVID-19 quarantine.

I used 4-5 large moving boxes from past years of moving. I also used old twists/wires from buying bread at the grocery store,, legos with holes to keep the wire in place, a glue gun and glue sticks, and packaging tape.

I decorated the front using a black marker for easy decoration. You can draw nature pictures like trees, sun, flowers, grass, clouds, or neighborhood sites such as fences, cars, or neighbors. For the door, I used glued red construction paper to the cardboard, and created a four glass-like design on the door using white construction paper. I finished up the door using cotton rope as a door knob so kids can easily pull open the door.

Building cardboard toys can be a lot of work, but seeing your kids’  excited faces is always priceless. I love how imaginative they become as they use their stuffed toys for pretend play. They also learn to share and build good relationships with each other.

I found a good cardboard tutorial and inspiration – check it out if you’d like to build something out of cardboard for your kids.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d be grateful if you share it on your page so other parents with little ones can see it too 🙂 Thank you! Follow me on Instagram and Facebook and don’t forget to subscribe on my blog for the latest DIY or motherhood related topics. See you on the next post!



Do-It-Yourself Desk Organizer for Kids

Monday, April 20, 2020

I made this desk organizer for my kids to make their pens, pencils, markers etc. be organized and stored in one container. It’s helpful and easy to carry around when we need them for homeschooling, doodling and doing other arts & crafts. It saves a lot of space in our bookshelf as well, since I used to separate these things in different containers. Here’s how I made it and materials that I used to create this cute and functional desk organizer for kids.


Beer Carton Carrier


Glue Gun and Sticks

Cotton Rope

Elmer’s Glue


Small brush (optional)

Thread and needle or sewing machine (optional)

Brent cooked sausage bratwurst a few weeks ago so we had beer to marinate the sausages. I used the beer carton carrier as the main material and just added a few cardboard inside to make the bottom and sides strong.

I used scrap fabric that I already have and started to cover the cardboard. I start from the outside and the holder as pictured. I use a glue gun to stick the fabric onto the cardboard.

Finish the both sides and inside divider by covering them with fabric. To seal the edges of the fabric, I fold it in a small seam and sew it or you can simply apply glue gun instead.

I used cotton rope to add detail on the handle. For the front, this is optional, you can make letters on the front by using the same cotton rope. Write the word you like for the front and start to trace it using cotton rope. I chose the word “create”.

I think creating letters using cotton rope can be tricky and requires patience.. I had to seal all the ends of each cut rope with a glue gun so it won’t fridge. Tip: after I apply the glue gun on the end, I wait for a few seconds and when it’s about to cool off,  I pressed it with two fingers to seal the end.

Once you are done making all the letters using cotton rope and glue gun. Mix part Elmer’s glue and part water in a small bowl and use a small brush to give a coat on the top surface of the rope. This helps to add stiffness and put the cotton rope in place.

(shop bookcase here)

Again, the front design is optional. You can simply add rope around the container as a stripe decoration or maybe add fake small flowers if you’re making it for your daughter. Or use felt fabric to create letters or just leave the front as it is.

I hope you enjoy this another DIY for kids! Hope to see you again on my next post. Be sure to follow me on Instagram or subscribe on my blog to see my newest post 🙂


Welcome to Hello Island Mama! I love to share about motherhood, makeup, DIYs, home styling and faith. Based in Houston, Texas. Originally from Philippines. Thank you for your time to read and don't forget to subscribe above! - Em

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

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