Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Save Money With Homemade Fun!

This week I've been on a mission to have a go at making things myself rather than buying them. The idea started when I paid £3 for a bubble wand from the supermarket. My kids love these (as do I ). They make fantastic giant bubbles and the children find them truly magical. However my toddler has not yet perfected the art of holding them without spilling them and if I get through one of these a day it will cost me a fortune for the whole summer holiday. So I decided to make my own mixture and just re-use the wands - hopefully saving me quite a bit of cash and having some fun in the process!

After having a look online I decided to try the following mixture and it was really good. We also experimented with adding food colouring  to the bubble mix and this did seem to give a tint of colour to the bubbles  - but be wary as when they pop the colouring goes everywhere, so it's definitely one to try outside!

Homemade Bubble Mix
2 cups washing up liquid
4 cups water
2 tsps sugar

(washing up liquid and 500g sugar come to £1.69 and will make about 6 bubble wands worth of mix so that's 33p per wand)

Another item that I have also found to be pretty expensive is ready-made cake mix. These sell at about £1.99 for a packet. They make about 12 cakes but when we have used them they never taste as nice as homemade ones. You also still have to add the eggs and butter to the mix and so you are basically paying for some flour, sugar and baking powder. 

I love this idea of making your own cake mix instead and storing it in a jam jar with a pretty label and my children really enjoyed making this. You can customise the jar and label, and by adding some decorations and cake toppers in a small plastic bag you can give the mix's different themes. You could try pink glitter for fairy cakes or animal cake toppers for a farmyard theme. They are fantastic for a quick fix on a rainy day - and save on all the mess of weighing out ingredients or wildly searching the cupboards for the right type of flour. They would also make a lovely personal gift.

Homemade Cake Mix (for 12 cakes)
100g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
100g caster sugar
If you want to customise you could add:
40g cocoa for chocolate cakes
or add chocolate drops, raisins or mixed fruit.

(a 500g bag of sugar,500g bag of self raising flour and pot of baking powder come to £1.90 and make 5 cake mixes. So you will get 5 mixes for 38p each!)

The final thing I'll be making myself is playdough. At around £5 for 4 tubs its expensive and it often ends up getting dried out or trodden into the carpet! There is something so different about the feel and smell of the homemade stuff. It seems so much softer and more pliable. You can also add a few drops of vanilla essence or lavender or rose essential oils to make it smell beautiful. I've used the following recipe a lot over the years and think it works really well. You can get really creative with your choice of colourings - black and orange for Halloween, red and green with some gold glitter sprinkled in for xmas. This would also be a lovely present for a child. Wrap it in clingfilm, tie it round with a bow or ribbon and add a cookie cutter!

Homemade Playdough
2 cups plain flour
1 cup salt
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups of water with food colouring added
1 teaspoon vanilla essence or a couple of drops of an essential oil of your choice (this is optional it just makes it smell nice)

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat until the dough starts to form into a ball. Allow to cool and the knead until smooth. This can be kept in an airtight container and should last for a few weeks.

(plain flour 500g, cream of tartar and food colouring come to £2.87 and will make the above recipe about 5 times so that's 54p each time you make it. I'm assuming the oil and salt will be in most people's cupboards already!)


  1. Great tips Emma, I especially like the bubble mixture. Having said that, buying a bottle of bubble mixture is a great present for a child whose house you are visiting, sound familiar!

    1. Yes bubble mix is a great pressie and does keep the kids amused!

  2. These are great homemade ideas. Thanks for sharing them. We'll have to try making our own bubbles too!

    1. Thanks Amy - I'm going to try the moonsand idea on your site too!

  3. Good ideas here, Emma.

    1. Thanks. I've also been thinking about taking one of your tips on board and trying some homemade yoghurt.

  4. Ah so sugar is the secret ingredient in a bubble mix! I have tried so many times and failed to make a decent mixture up. Thank you!

  5. I make homemade boobie milk ice lollies. These are not only great in hot weather but they are also good for soothing teething pain.
    The Twinkles and I recently had fun with spin painting. We used a salad spinner and placed a disc of paper inside then added a few drops of paint. The Twinkles loved spinning the salad spinner and it made some great spin art.

  6. Ooh I LOVE homemade things. So much nicer than shop bought. Great idea.

    Thank you for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!